Buying or renting a mailing list is an investment. With targeting being an essential element of a direct mail campaign, it’s important that the data quality for your target audience is high. At Mailjoy, we don’t provide mailing lists as many of our customers create campaigns with data from their own customer database. For everyone else that needs help building a list for acquiring new customers, we often refer them to a few trusted data partners.
Today, Will Spero, CEO of Mailers Haven, joins us to answer some questions about what to consider when buying a mailing list. Will is a direct mail pro that has been working in the industry since he was in high school where he assisted with both the selling and production of direct mail campaigns.
What are important things to consider when coming up with your mailing list strategy?
60% of the success of your mailing will be determined by the mailing list so it’s important to get it right. If you are unsure of your target market, run multiple tests and meticulously track your results. Also, if you have a customer mailing list, you can take that data and have it modeled to get an idea of who your customers are.
What kind of targeting options exist for reaching consumers? How specific can you get?
It can get very targeted. There are the basics like age, income, age and gender of children, homeowners, renters, ethnicity, religion, education, etc. But there are also micro-selects which are high-level models of consumer tendencies. Things like: “propensity to dine at a mid-scale Asian restaurant ” and “Early Technology Adopters”. Typically, the more targeted the list the better. Just remember, nearly all selects are modeled and not perfectly accurate.
What’s the difference between consumer data and occupant data? When should you use each?
Consumer data is a named list of households and individuals that is used for targeting purposes. Occupant data is a list of every known address in the United States regardless of household or families residing at the address. These records are addressed to the “Current Resident,” though you can add names where available.
Typically, an Occupant mailing will have better postage and a less costly list, but the targeting and response rate will be less. If you have a targeted audience you wish to mail, then a Consumer list is what should be purchased. You should use an occupant list when a prospect’s nearness to the location is more important than any demographics. So for example, a hardware store might be a good use for an Occupant list.
How can you determine the quality of a list and data provider before buying?
Ask them about their delivery rates and any data guarantee they have. Also, tell them that you will be mailing your job First-Class Mail. Even though you are more likely to send out a direct mail campaign using Standard Mail postage (bulk rate), the postal service is not required to send returns with Standard Mail. If you mention to the list company that you plan to mail First-Class, they will give you a real expected return rate. Also, pay attention to any guarantee they have. At Mailers Haven, we pay our clients $0.50 per return over a certain percentage. Some list companies will only supply free records for excessive returns, which is not as strong.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when acquiring a mailing list?
They send out too large of a mailing with their first foray into direct mail. They should start small and build it if it is successful. Also, another rookie error is to only use the basic selects (i.e income, age, etc.). You should always ask your list provider if there are any micro-selects or specialty lists that they might recommend.
What have been some recent advancements in creating more targeted mailing lists?
Micro-selects, as I mentioned, are relatively new and make for better targeting. Modeling is now for small businesses. It used to cost $10,000 to model a customer list, but now you can do it for only a few hundred dollars.
Where do you see the industry heading towards?
Better targeting and more innovative mail pieces, but smaller volume campaigns. Rather than mail 100,000 records monthly, companies will mail 25,000 to 50,000 records using a more targeted list with more personalized material (1 to 1 marketing) to achieve better results.
If you’re looking to build a B2C or B2B mailing list, reach out to the team at Mailers Haven.