Ever wondered about the world of mailing lists? Well, if you read on, we're gonna tell you all about it. Why? Because the mailing list is arguably the single most important factor in your direct mail effort. Mediocre creative and copy anchored by a great list will always outperform the obverse.
Mailing lists can be categorized into two basic types:
Compiled lists are derived from sources of information such as public records or other sources that may or may not be public, like vehicle registrations, phone books,public directories, trade directories etc..you get the picture.
List managers who do the compiling attempt to glean as much information as possible from their sources. Their efforts to build a robust a record allow us to select names of individuals or businesses that have certain characteristics, such as all the Pediatric Orthodontists in Atlanta, GA, and who are therefore likely to respond to our offer for Pediatric Orthodontic supplies. We infer that they are likely respondents because of who they are. Other examples include everyone individual living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or any business in Portland, Maine with fewer than 20 employees.
How reliable are compiled lists? Well...like an economist would answer...it depends.
Think about it ...if you were to compile a list of everyone within, say, a 1 square mile of your house, how long to you think it would take for that list to become unreliable? Not long...
Compiled lists have the shelf life of vegetables...
This means that they need to be constantly updated...and like everything in life, you've got the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to managing the update process.
Generally speaking the more sources that go into the updating process, the greater the ability to cross-reference for accuracy and integrity when analyzing any given piece of information...
At this point, we'll gratuitously pitch our own ConsumerVision, Business Databank, Resident Databank, Mortgage Databank and New Mover Databank list products as being multi-sourced, frequently updated and therefore, highly accurate!
Response lists, on the other hand, are derived from gathering information about people who have responded to an ad, or who have purchased from a catalog, direct mail offer, TV, radio, email offer etc.
Their propensity to respond to your offer is therefore derived from an assessment of their past purchase / response behavior. It is important to note that individuals and businesses may be potential candidates for your offer because of past behavior toward complementary goods and services and/or substitute goods and services.
Other lists such as Magazine Subscribers, Catalog Lists, Trade Association Lists, Trade Show Lists are arguably hybrids of both basic categories, sharing the characteristics of both.
There are over 10,000 magazines in print and online and for most products or interests, you can probably find a Magazine Subscriber List that goes straight to the most perfectly suited audience. If you're selling hydroponic equipment for the home gardening crowd, then the subscriber list for the Herb Quarterly Magazine might be worth testing.
Catalogers also derived revenue from the sale of their mailing list...and provided that your product or service doesn't compete too directly with their products, you might be able to rent their list. But if your company sells high end leather handbags and accessories, the kind folks at Coach Leather might think twice about letting you use their list...
You'll see this quite often for many mailing lists..."Sample piece required prior to mailing."
Trade Associations and Trade Show Lists are also good sources for individuals or businesses interested in your product or service. These folks share a common belonging...that being a profession, a hobby or other interest.
Whatever type of mailing lists you end up with, you always start by asking yourself what groups, characteristics and/or, behaviors make up your perfect audience. Then you either find the lists yourself, or you employ the expertise of a list broker (well, okay...like DietrichDirect) to help you find the right list.
Often, you may need analytical help in figuring out just who your customers are. That typically involves an analysis of your current customer database whereby your customer records are compared against a large universe of consumers or business in attempt to find record level matches. You may know that John Smith on Main St is one of your customers...but you may not know anything else about him. A demographic analysis attempts to find out as much information about John Smith as possible...and similarly, the process repeats itself for all your customers. Then, the information is examined for commonalities, trends, patterns, as well as dissimilarities...the goal being that you will be identify with you your best, worst and typical customers.
Of course, the best list of all is YOUR own customer list of current and past customers. They're the folks that bought something from you...and the very same folks who are likely to repeat their purchase behavior with you...but you have to let them know about your products! Identify and segment your customers for cross / next / up sell opportunities...these are by far your cheapest acquisition...you've already got them...they're free!
Here are several important considerations regarding your quest for the perfect list:
Believe us...this stuff matters!
But that's why were here...to answer all these tough questions...and to make sure your getting the most targeted, most up-to-date list for the lowest price possible.
Finally...A Few Myths to Consider About Lists
This article presents some of the fundamentals for buying and selecting lists. Of course, nothing beats the experience and knowledge of knowing who your customers are, and then knowing where to find the right list. And if you've gotten to this point in our article, we think you're in a good position to get started.
How may we help you?