- Talk to any direct mail expert and he or she will tell you that the list you use for your mailings is perhaps the most important single element in determining the success of your mailing. It’s what’s known in the industry as “The 40-40-20 Rule” (40% of your success comes from your list; 40% comes from your offer; and 20% comes from your creative). Here’s an article that discusses that breakdown in a bit more detail.
The thing is, not all mailing lists are created equal. What are the different kinds of lists and how do they work?
First of all, there are lists that you own (In-house lists). These are your customers and contacts that you generated on your own. You don’t need permission from anyone (except the recipients) to use these lists. They don’t cost you anything other than what it costs to keep them current and perhaps to run them against the current USPS database to ensure they’re still accurate. You can segment your list into current customers, past customers, lapsed customers, or any other designation that helps you identify exactly who these people are.
There are also rental lists that you can use. You pay a per/thousands price for the privilege of using these lists one time (You don’t buy them, you rent them). If recipients respond to your mailing, then they become part of your list and you don’t have to pay to use those names again.
There are also categories within the rental list option. You can request lists based on geographical parameters (down to specific ZIP codes). You can rent saturation lists (that cover every address in a certain area—but without names). You can choose lists based on response to certain appeals (“Households that donated to charities” or “Disaster relief donors”). You can also select business lists or consumer lists based on the type of customer you’re trying to reach
It’s important to know that the more specific (and exclusive) the list, the higher the price will be. The good news is that you can narrow down your scope dramatically. The list will cost you more, but you’ll likely waste less money mailing to people you don’t want to reach.
To be honest, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to lists for your direct mailings. To find (or create) a mailing list that best fits your specific needs, we’d suggest talking to one of our experienced Customer Service Representatives. We have a number of veteran direct mail specialists who can help you tailor your list to achieve the results you’re after.