How to Purchase the Right Direct Mail List

Do you need to purchase a mailing list from direct mail services to make your next mail effort a success?

It’s a complicated question.  In years past, there was no question, but these days people are a lot more protective of their personal information and less likely to respond to “cold” advertisements than ever before.  Direct mail campaigns are still a great way to reach people, you just have to be a bit more savvy about how you go about it.

Getting The Most Out Of Modern Direct Mail Campaigns

So, who is most likely to respond to direct mail?  Largely speaking, you get your best results from:

  • Existing or previous customers
  • Referrals
  • People who responded to direct mail in the past
  • Customers of other companies in your field

In other words, by and large, you get the best responses from direct mail when it’s targeting people  have already had contact with your business before.

Therefore, the best mailing list is the one money can’t buy: your own.  Before looking into buying a list, go through your own records and compile all the addresses in one database.  You may already be sitting on a contact list that’s as good as anything you can buy from direct mail services.

But, what if you don’t have that list?  Well, you’ve still got some options…

Building a Great Direct Mailing List

First, you need to understand your customers.  The more you know about people who are likely to purchase your services, the better-targeted your mailers will be.  When each will likely cost at least a dollar, proper targeting is necessary to see a return on the investment.

From here, it’s possible to do much of the legwork yourself if you’ve got time or an intern to work on the problem.  Online resources about your area, like Zillow, can be used to pinpoint neighborhoods that are likely to be responsive.  Your local city hall or planning office is also likely to have a lot of useful information.

However, building your own mailing list is quite time consuming, so that’s the point when it may make more sense to purchase a list.

Purchasing An Effective Direct Mail List

Even if you’re purchasing a list, you still need to have as much information about your customer base as possible.  The quality of the list you get will depend largely on how well you know your own needs and audience.

When it comes to purchasing lists, there are List Compilers and List Brokers.  Compilers used to sell direct, but increasingly, they use Brokers as middlemen rather than dealing direct.  So, you’ll likely end up working with a List Broker.  You give them the information on your target demographics, and they go to the List Compilers to get a custom list.

Testimonials or referrals are your best research tools here.  The success of direct mail services can only be measured in terms of how successful they are in helping other companies.  Good ones can pull lists vastly better than what a company can do for themselves.  Bad ones just recycle the same list over and over.

Find a broker with a history of satisfied customers and your spend on the direct mail list will likely be well worth it.

Be Savvy About Your Mailing Lists

Direct mail is still a great way to reach new and existing customers, but it shouldn’t be scattershot.  A well targeted list will minimize your advertising spend while ensuring your message is only seen by those most likely to convert into leads.

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