Direct Mail Lists for Maximum Success

By Travis Lee
Co-Founder and President

Direct mail lists are by far the most important part of any direct mail campaign. While all components of a campaign play a role, the list ultimately has the greatest impact on its overall performance. Investing in the right custom mailing list can lead to exponentially better results. Here are three steps to help you find the right list, followed by three essential questions to ask when purchasing a mailing list.

Step 1: Decide between buying or creating a direct mail list

When compiling a list for your mailing campaigns, you have two main options:

  1. Compile your own list based on your existing customers and prospects.
  2. Purchase a list from a reputable provider.

Choosing to compile your own list is the more cost-effective route, but it requires significant time and effort, especially if you haven’t been actively collecting contacts. On the other hand, purchasing a list requires a financial investment but saves you the effort of compiling it yourself. The decision between the two options depends on your business’s specific needs and marketing strategy. Assess whether compiling a list internally is feasible for your business and if you’re willing to invest the effort required.

Step 2: Identify your ideal prospects

Instead of thinking of marketing as “convincing” people, consider it as “identifying” those who already have an interest in your product. An effective marketing campaign targets individuals who are likely to desire your product and presents them with an attractive offer. The goal is to make it clear why they should choose your business over the competition. By focusing on prospects who are already interested, you gain an advantage from the start.

For example, a local jewelry store should not simply send postcards to everyone in its zip code, as not everyone in the area wears or desires jewelry. Instead, the store should identify the ideal demographic of potential buyers, such as women between the ages of 35 and 70 with a household income of $75,000+. By targeting the right audience, the store can generate better results and attract quality prospects.

Step 3: Determine the appropriate list type

direct mail listsThere are five primary types of mailing lists to consider:

The house list: This list consists of your current customers, past customers, and individuals who have contacted your business. House lists are effective since these individuals already have some level of interest and trust in your brand. This makes them warm prospects that should be targeted regularly.

Response based direct mail lists: This list includes people who have responded to businesses offering similar products to yours. Providers such as magazines, private list companies, or direct mail companies offer response lists. While these prospects haven’t specifically responded to your business, their interest in similar products makes them warm leads for your offer.

The targeted demographic list: This type of list allows you to narrow down prospects based on demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, income level, and other factors. It enables you to target a specific audience precisely.

The opt-in list: Opt-in lists are composed of individuals who have willingly subscribed to be on the list. Although they can be more expensive, they often yield a high return on investment (ROI) and should not be overlooked.

Segmented direct mail lists: Segmented lists are even more targeted than demographic lists, focusing on specific data such as spending habits, reading preferences, travel patterns, and more. Analyzing your current customer base using segmentation technology can help identify common traits and build a list based on those characteristics.

Three essential questions when choosing a reputable list company:

  1. Do you guarantee deliverability? It’s important to choose a company that offers at least a 90% deliverability rate to ensure your mail reaches the intended recipients.
  2. Do you update your lists monthly? Regular updates are crucial for maintaining list quality since people frequently move, and outdated information can render your mailing ineffective. Ensure the list company you choose provides up-to-date data.
  3. Can I use this list more than once? Repeat mailings are essential for success in direct mail campaigns. Before purchasing a list, inquire about the company’s policy on list usage. Ideally, they should offer an unlimited usage option for a specified duration at an additional cost.

Finding the right mailing list may seem complex, but it is a critical factor for your campaign’s success. Don’t get discouraged. By following these steps and asking the right questions, you can procure a well-targeted mailing list that will significantly contribute to your marketing successes.

For more on mailing lists, visit these articles:

How To Segment Your List for Maximum Success

The Truth on Mailing Lists

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