Finding The Right Mailing List For Your Business

Blog Administrator | Article, Direct Mail, Mailing Lists | , ,
Dan Anglin, Senior Sales Specialist, Modern Postcard
The right list is critical to the success of your mail campaign. 40-41 percent of your direct mail success begins with the list. It doesn’t matter if your mail piece is beautiful, has a great offer, a stunning design, or a strong call to action. If you add in the wrong list, what happens? No response. 
What’s the key to list selection? Find out what your customers look like and then go out to find more that look just like them! Learning from your own customers is the best way to find out who your next customer is going to be.
So, how do you get the right list? 
• Make sure you are up-to-date on the currency of information for your customers and house files 
• Learn what demographics are available
• Determine optimal geographic markets
• Find where you’re going to acquire the data/sources
• Advanced level data services available
Customer Lists
When you’re mailing to your own customer list, that list should outperform any other list that you rent. Making the sale is a lot easier if you’ve already sold to them before, as opposed to a rented list where they may or may not have heard of you in the past, and where response rates are typically lower. 
When collecting information on your customers, it’s always best to try and gather as much demographic data as possible–above and beyond just their name and address. Email addresses are great to capture for newsletters. Birth dates are also a great demographic to collect. Restaurants collect birth dates and then mail something to the recipient offering them something free or discounted to come in and collect for their birthday. 
Use your customer lists to keep current customers “in the know.” If you’re rolling out a new product or service, it’s best to start by informing your current customers. 
Capture new business by renting outside lists–the nature of the beast
Your customer/house file is always going to be changing. An average of 3-5 percent of Americans move every month. They pass away, switch jobs/responsibilities, or consider other vendors. 
What types of lists are available?
• Magazine subscriberss
• New Mover/New Homeowner Lists
• Direct Response/ Buyer Files
• Association Membership Rosters
• Tradeshow Exhibitor/Attendee Files
The biggest category is obviously specialty lists, because they cover everything that isn’t a consumer, business, or occupant list! 

• More targeted than occupant
• Wide variety of demographics to choose from
• More personable with (Head of Household) HOH first/last name
• Multi or Unlimited Use licenses are often available
• Large available universe, approximately 15MM-18MM records nationally–best for local mailings
• Almost 100 percent telephone coverage for follow up work
• Approximately 85-90 percent of the entire universe has an available Top Contact
• Multi or Unlimited Use data licenses often available
• Relatively inexpensive B2B data product
What should you be aware of when evaluating complied business lists?
• A lack of depth in the area of job function or title selects
• Suite numbers of lack thereof in some cases
• Phone numbers–main office phones, direct lines not available
• Inconsistent deliverability
Occupant Lists–Mailing to Anybody and Everybody 
• Updated monthly
• The most inexpensive list product available
• Provides best postage pricing
• Geo-zip and carrier route select
• Radius select
• Delivery point type select
• Dwelling type select
• Business address select
Occupant data does not provide you the consumers first/last name 40-60 percent of the time; however, the blank name area does provide room for creativity.
“Specialty Lists” is a very broad category.
With almost 40,000 available lists on the open market today, this kind of list makes up the greater majority. They include, but are not limited to:
• Magazine Subscriber Lists
• New Mover/ New Homeowner Lists
• Direct Response/ Buyer Files
• Association Membership Rosters
• Tradeshow Exhibitors/ Attendees
• Licensed Professionals
Compilation sources for Specialty Lists
• Subscription records
• Survey response information
• Sweepstake entries
• Mail order information
• County records
• Infomercial purchase
• Product warranty cards
• Association membership rosters
• Tradeshow exhibitors/ Attendees
What you need to be aware of with Specialty Lists
• They need to be updated frequently
• When was the last time the names were complied?
• What’s the minimum order?
• What’s the price per name?
• Are there any restrictions?
• Who are the sources used? Is it a private label data product?
• Limited selection options
• What are the turnaround times for delivery?
• What are the available delivery methods/formats?
Specialty List Buying Tip: Use a List broker!
—Source: Modern Postcard Webinar Dec. 9, 2008. Dan Anglin is a senior sales specialist at Modern Postcard. Reach him at