How to Tell if Your New Mailing List is Responsive


How-to-Tell-If-Your-New-Mailing-List-is-Responsive-1.jpgAsk any direct mail expert (or student) about the most crucial elements for direct mail successand he or she will mention “The List” as one of the most essential components. But how do you know if the list you buy (or put together from your own data) is responding to your efforts?

The only way to know for sure how a list is performing is to keep track of your results. Years ago, mailers would imprint a simple code (such as ABTB for Acme Big Ticket Buyers) to the response device so they’d know how each segment of their list was working.

Today, most businesses and organizations don’t use response devices. People either go online to respond or make a phone call. So how do you know who is responding? For phone calls, you can set up a separate number (or extension) for each list and print that number as the contact number.

For online responses, consider setting up separate landing pages for each list you use. It’s pretty fast, easy and inexpensive to have multiple landing pages. The pages will look identical, but will only be accessed through the specific URL you assign (and embed) in your mailing. Here’s how it might work:

Let’s say you want to test three lists: 1) Current Customers, 2) Lapsed Customers and 3) A purchased list. When you urge recipients to respond, you provide different URLs for each list. It could be as simple as:, and of those URLs would route to a specific landing page, enabling you to track where the responses came from.

Why go to that trouble? You don’t want to keep mailing to people who don’t respond. You may want to try to contact them several times with different offers, but if they never respond, you’re throwing your money away. By the way, just because a list broker says a list performs well (and there may be data to demonstrate that), it doesn’t mean it’s going to perform well for you. You have to test it for yourself.

It all comes down to getting the right message to the right people. Basically, you want to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Therefore, you should be constantly working on your list to make sure you are talking to the right people to begin with. The only way you’ll know you are reaching the right audience is by how people respond. Segmenting your list so you can track responses is the only way you’ll know who those responders are.

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