The mailing list is the foundation for any direct mail campaign. Asking yourself these questions will help you in what type of list you will need:
Once you have answered these questions, you should be able to decide on what type of list you will need. If you are offering discounts to loyal customers or launching a special promotion, you should be able to use your current customer database for information. On the other hand, if you are mailing materials to new customers or advertising products to an audience who isn’t familiar with your business, you may want to consider purchasing a list from a list broker.
- Who will receive the materials I’m sending?
- Do I want to reach out to past customers, offer new deals to current ones, or let more people know about my products (or services)?
Purchasing a List
Typing in “mailing list vendors” in a search engine can turn up hundreds of results. Because of this you need to know what to look for when purchasing a mailing list.
Quality mailing lists, simply put, are thorough. These lists will contain full names, addresses, zip codes, email addresses, etc. They will also be up-to-date and targeted. You shouldn’t just send your mailer to every house on random streets, but instead base your mailing on market research you have conducted to see who is more likely to be interested in your business.
For example, if you sell high-end children’s clothing you probably wouldn’t want to send your mailings to an area known for college age kids living there. To get a better result find the geographic areas where families with school-age children, moms-to-be, or shoppers who’ve purchased children’s clothing recently (grandparents, relatives, etc.) live. Targeting your mailing starts with the list you choose, so here are some points on how to choose the best list for your company.
- How is the list put together?
Mailing list companies generate lists in two ways. One is by using Response Lists, which are generated by using customer responses to advertisements (“click here for more information about children’s boutiques in your area”). Compiled Lists are usually collected by using data from other similar businesses; they do this by determining who would subscribe to a certain magazine and would correspondingly also be interested in certain products. Both techniques can be successful, though Response Lists are generally able to generate more reliable results.
- Has anyone else used the list?
It’s a good idea to ask mailing services who has purchased the list you are looking at within the last six months. Call these companies and ask how well the list worked for them. Ask them what their mailing strategy is, and see if it is similar to yours. Be sure to consider geographical differences, product offering and other factors that might make the list better or worse for your strategy.
- Is the list up-to-date?
Inquire how often the information is updated, or how recently the addresses were obtained if they generated their list by customer ad responses. Older lists can be out of date, and are less effective for mailing campaigns.
It is hard to determine what a mailing service will charge for a list. Mailing list costs can vary depending on the quality. Newer and more targeted information will be more expensive. You can expect charges anywhere from $100 to $500 for a list of up to 1,000 names. If you are looking for more exclusive lists, targeted data, and/or filtered results, expect to pay more.