listdirectmailMake your list and check it twice.

The success of any direct mail campaign begins with the list. Profile your best customers. Discover the attributes that will ensure new customers will become loyal customers. Once you’ve dialed in on the optimum characteristics, start building your list.

Where should you start?

Those who offer mailing services will have mail specialists that are skilled at researching, cleaning and purchasing targeted mailing lists. To better understand the process, below is a brief description on where list criteria come from, specifically for two types of purchased lists: Compiled Mailing Lists and Response or Specialty Lists. It is truly a case of ‘you get what you pay for.’

 Compiled Mailing List

This type of list is comprised of information from public records and sources such as the telephone book, courthouse records, bankruptcy filings, deed recordings, tax documents, census findings, etc. Information that is readily available to the public is collected and compiled into a mega database.

This type of list is ideal for those businesses that need special demographic selections to target a well-defined market, for example manufacturing companies with more than 50 employees and an annual sales volume of $3,000,000 or more. Or perhaps single family households with an annual income of $125,000 or more in all zip codes representing Chicago.

Since these lists are based on self-reported information that is easy to access, the cost of purchasing this type of list is low.

Response or Specialty List

Information in this type of list is much more targeted and will be your best choice if you need to reach a specific market or audience that has similar interests or characteristics. These people have responded to specific media offers, have purchasing habits that can be tracked and measured, subscribe to specific publications or have signed up to receive discounts and information on targeted subjects.

Because these lists are comprised of individuals who are willing participants and purchasers, response rates tend to be higher—justifying a higher cost for the mailing list.

Be aware that not all criteria are available in each type of list search. You may be able to locate architects with a household income of more than $250,000 in Boston, but this type of list may not have the available information on registered boat owners. You must decide the most important characteristics of your ideal customer and model your mailing list around those criteria.

No purchased list will guarantee a 100% response rate, but purchasing a list from targeted criteria is a good place to start. With a bit of research, and tweaking over time to check and re-check your list, you’ll find yourself on the path to a successful direct mail campaign.