Conventional wisdom has long held that your mailing list is one of the most critical components of a successful direct mail campaign. Guess what? It’s still true. After all, if you’re selling pet supplies you’re not going to have much success if you mail your cards, letters, or catalogs to people that don’t own pets. A huge part of direct mail success is getting the right message to the right people. So how do you select the right list? Here are four keys.
Think About Your Audience: As you plan your mailing—and look for your list, write down as many characteristics as you can about the audience for your goods or services. The more details you know (or can reasonably guess) about your audience, the more specific your list can be. And that increases your chances of success.
Think Value Instead of Price: When is a bargain not a bargain? When what you purchase doesn’t deliver value. There are “bargain-priced” lists out there, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. It doesn’t matter if you save a few pennies on your list if the list is lousy and doesn’t respond. It actually costs you more.
Take Your Time: Don’t rush the list selection process. Take some time to talk to your list broker or mail house. Tell them what you want—or what you’re trying to accomplish. Read the descriptions of the lists to see if they really match your requirements. Look at where your list has been successful (that’s generally included in the description) and ask yourself if it seems like a good fit for your audience.
Test Your Lists: Before purchasing an entire list (particularly a large one) test a significant sample. It’s better to try out a few thousand names to see how they respond than it is to mail to 100,000 names that may or may not be right.