Mailing Lists for Insurance Agents and Financial Advisors: How to Find, Specify and Buy a Great Mailing List!

January 2, 2019 Off By Melissa Team

by Jeffrey Dobkin

The mailing list you select is responsible for almost half of the success of your mailing. The other half is decided by the creative strategy you use and the offer.

The creative is the design, style, copywriting, photos and illustrations.  Included in the creative is the format: letter, envelope mailer, self-mailer, booklet, or post card.

You can create a successful mailer with practice, testing and patience. It helps to study what has been working.

As a student of direct marketing, I’ve been studying direct mail creative for the past 25… OMG am I that old already!? But you can see what’s working just by looking at the mailing pieces you receive in your mailbox more than once. Seeing the same piece over and over means it’s working.

If you have a great mailing package, your success boils down to sending it to the right mailing list.  So spend some time to thoroughly research and buy the best mailing list you can.

Housekeeping Note:
You technically don’t “buy” a mailing list, you “rent” the names on the list for a one time use. (You can negotiate for additional use and additional mailings.) For the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to renting as “Buying” the usage of the mailing list. So…

Buying the right mailing list is the toughest part of any mailing. Yet the right mailing list contributes so much to your success.

More than that, mailing to the wrong list is a direct line to failure. Even the best direct marketing packages don’t bring any response when mailed to the wrong list.

Here’s the formula:

Poor List = poor response
Good List = good response
Great List = great response
G-R-E-A-T List = G-R-E-A-T response

Specifying Mailing List Criteria

The mailing list data (the mailing list records) – names and addresses – can be ordered and specified in several different ways. You can buy a mailing list based on:

Consumer / Geographic –
Locality, neighborhood, by zip code, city, township, county, state.

Demographic –
Household income, neighborhood, age, business, number and type of vehicles, value of home…

Business –
Type of business, Industry (SIC), number of employees, position, income, valuation, annual income,

Response –
Names of people who have responded to a direct marketing offer.

Where do mailing lists originate?

There are two main types of origins of mailing lists: compiled mailing lists and and response lists.

Mailing list data can be compiled from state, county or township information such as driver’s license records, vehicle registrations, names in selected phone area codes or zip codes, voting records, home ownership, mortgages, number of children, date of birth, property ownership etc.

Mailing lists are often compiled from phone books, for example: the names and addresses of all photographers in selected cities or states, or all the plumbing supply houses across the Southern US.

Mailing lists can be further sorted.

Additionally by using data “overlays” on the mailing lists you can further define the records you receive.

For a mailing list of mortgage holders this may include not only who the mortgage holder is, but also date of application, final transaction date, amount of purchase, amount of initial mortgage or current balance, or monthly payments. Any and all of this data is available and may be relevant to your offer and as importantly to your response.

Suppose you wanted a mailing list of all the names and addresses of people who have two children in Zip code 19066, who have purchased their house in a 2018, for $400,000 to $500,000, and the amount of mortgage they have left to pay is more than $250,000. Yea, you could specify that list by merging the “mortgage holders” mailing list with the “Parents” mailing list and a zip code overlay of the mailing lists.

Additional “overlays” can be added to specify additional criteria and refine the records search further. For example you want to buy a mailing list of homeowners and specify you want the names of people who own “properties worth more than $2 Million with at least $750,000 left on their mortgage, and have 3 cars and an income property down the shore.” OK, you can get it.

Your mailing list can specify head of households appended with multiple overlay criteria: “with annual income over $250,000 who own a Buick and have 2 children in college and who live in the following zip codes….”

As you can see, you can get very specific with tightly targeting the names on your mailing list. It’s the beauty of direct mail: precise targeting. No wasted advertising expense.

If your market focuses on High Value Clients as most financial advisors seek as their target market, you can rent a mailing list of HNW individuals and specify a value overlay: people with assets over $3 million; or UHNW people with over $40 million in assets. Additional overlays can be “who own a house worth over $8 million, and own a Mercedes and have been divorced within the past two years.”

Yes, if you can specify it there are mailing lists with that specified criteria available. Trouble is in this particular instance, lots of people mail to UHNW individuals – so your great mailing piece can get lost in the clutter of direct mail they receive each morning. This is where the creative part of your package has greater relevance.

A final word about additional “selects.” You can select people with a second house in Florida, a second income property, or who own a boat over 42 feet long. Or who own property on a coastal waterway. Each overlay of criteria makes the list smaller as you weed people out of the list. So this list may be available but it may only contain 200 names matching all criteria.  Not really enough for most mailings, but you never know… if you’re selling jet planes you can mail to this tiny mailing list customized, personalized packages every month for the next 10 years and all you need is one person on the list to purchase to cover your costs and beyond.  Way beyond.

Demographic Lists

Mailing Lists can also be specified of people with selected Demographic profiles. The names on the mailing list can be specified by SIC code, income level, head of household, religion, job position, owner of business, number of employees, industry, title, wealth, home value, number or type of vehicles and so forth.

Continue Reading here. And remember, our list specialists are available to help you create and/or find the perfect list for your business needs. Call 800-MELISSA or visit