Without a doubt, the right mailing list determines whether your direct mail campaign is successful. It doesn’t matter what you say if the right people don’t get the message. So, how do you create the right mailing list?
There are companies with resources to research and build mailing lists for all sorts of industries. However, if you purchase a list that is “pre-made” you run the risk of overexposure. The likelihood is great that the list has been sold several times prior to your purchase.
In contrast, there are “brokered lists” sourced from third-parties that come from transactional responses. The way these lists are compiled makes them ever changing. Some companies rent these lists or sell them outright.
Consider the source of the mailing list. Was it compiled from actual transactional responses or gleaned from public data sources? Ask for a sample so that test mailings can determine the appropriateness of the list. See if you can determine the age of the data. Newer lists are less likely to have outdated information.
While sourcing is important, industry experts will tell you that “name-brand” lists outperform both compiled lists and response lists. Branded lists are generated by familiar companies and nonprofit organizations.
Beware of “exclusive” but unbranded lists whose names and descriptions are “too good to be true.” It’s not uncommon for some list owners and managers to exaggerate the importance of their “exclusive” lists.
Weighing the Price of Purchased Mailing Lists
Economizing can cost you more in the long run. If you base your list selection on the cost per name without regard to how the names were sourced, you stand a much greater likelihood of losing money on your mailings. Compiled lists cost less but typically produce the lowest results.
Putting Together Your Own Mailing List
There is no reason you can’t develop your own mailing list. All you need to do is narrow down a few things.
- Identify the audience for your product or service.
- What is the demographic of your customers?
- Is timing a consideration?
Identify Who Should Receive Your Mailing
Focus your target by considering what you offer. For example, if you sell wedding photos, you might target women between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age. A good resource for qualifying leads and targeting customers is our article “How to Qualify Leads and Build Your List.”
What Is the Demographic for Your Customers?
Let’s take a closer look at the previous example, wedding photos. You have identified the age group most likely to respond to such an offer, but what about the money? Where is it coming from? More than likely, their parents. Therefore, you might want to target the parents of those young women with a “deal breaker of a deal.” They are the ones watching the bottom line.
It takes about four to six months to plan a wedding. Since most weddings occur around Valentine’s Day or in June, the optimal time to send such an offer would be three to four months prior to those dates. Knowing when to reach the people on your mailing list is incredibly important.
These three things are good for consideration. By identifying your target, their characteristics, and the best time to reach them, you stand a better chance of getting a response. Whether you purchase a list or create one of your own, make sure you build it carefully, because your mailing list can make or break your direct mail campaign.
The Bottom Line
According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail response rates achieved a 5.3% response rate to house lists and a 2.9% response to prospect lists. These response rates are the highest the DMA has tracked since 2003.
Response to a house list versus a prospect list is going to result in a significant variance. Experience shows that a house list will perform at a minimum, 30% better than a prospect list and the conversion you achieve with a prospect list will be half what you would achieve with a customer list.
Call us. We can show you how to build a mailing list that delivers.