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How to Generate the Best Direct Mailing List

Posted by The Boingo Graphics Team on Sep 3, 2019 11:20:00 AM

When you're looking to create direct mailing lists, the key is to really dig in and do your research. You may never achieve a 100% response rate, but you can get closer if you understand the people you're communicating with. If you want to run a solid direct mail campaign, we'll give you a few tips on how to get started.

What Do Customers Expect?

Marketing today is all about personalization. Customers don't necessarily want to be told about every sale or promotion, they want to be told about the specials that they actually care about. This is a major shift in marketing, one that not all businesses have been able to keep pace with.

When a company takes the time to understand the individual, they stand a better chance of connecting with them. Your mailing lists may need to be segmented to different audiences far more than you realize if you're looking to increase your response rate.

Is It That Bad to Send Direct Mail to the Wrong People?

There are a few reasons why having the wrong people on your list is problematic for a company:

  • Alienation: If your customers are annoyed by your publications, they may carry that feeling over to your entire company. If they see your mail as nothing more than trash, you can easily alienate a person's repeat business.
  • Inspiration: Having the right audience will show you which direction you should take your campaign. If you market for a coffee shop in a saturated area, you may originally want to send out coupons to encourage people to come in. But once you figure out that your demographic is more likely to care about the quality of your beans, you can pivot to the message that they'll actually respond to.
  • Wastefulness: Your time and money will undoubtedly be better spent finding the customers who will care about your products or services. When you invest the time and money to learn about the persona of your customers, you can start adjusting your campaigns to meet their expectations. If you want to generate maximum ROI with minimum effort, you need to start with a solid mailing list.

What Types of Mailing Lists Are There?

There are two ways to label your list, depending on what you do and who you serve.

  • Saturation: There are certain markets that offer a service that nearly everyone can use. For example, all homeowners will need their gutters cleaned at some point. If you own this type of business, you can consider saturation mailing to all homeowners in your servicing area.
  • Targeted mailing: You can segment your direct mail lists based on the defining characteristics of your target customers. For example, you may send one advertisement to a working-class neighborhood and another advertisement to those in wealthier neighborhoods.

How Do I Define My Target Audience?

The first thing you need to do is identify your key buyer personas — most companies will have several based on their sales. If your primary persona is women over 50 who have high-flying careers, your secondary persona might be women under 50 who aspire to appear ultra-successful. Start defining the criteria you want to use to sort out your customers:

  • Status: Are you sending direct mail to a customer who's only tried your services once? Who has never tried you at all? Who utilizes you every day?
  • Location: Are you adding a new territory? Appealing to people on a specific block? Targeting those who have recently moved to the area?
  • Commercial interests: If you're a B2B company, do you know how many employees your target has? How much money the company makes a year? How many locations the company has?
  • Traits: Do you know what your audience cares about? What they do in their spare time? Why they like certain products and dislike others?
  • Demographics: How old is the person reading your ad? Do they have disposable income?

Once you have all this information and you've triple-checked it's accuracy, you can really start to see how each customer will want to be spoken to (and what they ultimately want to hear).

How Can I Personalize My Message?

The most common way to personalize a message is to include the person's name somewhere other than the address line. However, you can take this concept further than that. Consider specifying the recipient's gender or family status. For example, you might start your direct mailer with "As a working mom...". You can also send out reminders to people, letting them know that they're due for another appointment or to replace a specific product.

Personalizing a message on direct mailing lists may have been cost-prohibitive in the past, but this has changed in the recent past. Between the popularity of this request and the technology available, you can tweak your messages to have maximum impact without canceling out your revenue with the cost of the personalization features.

How Can I Improve My Buyer Persona?

The best way to improve your buyer persona is to sift through the data to learn as much as possible about them. The best mailing lists — whether in-house or outside — are those that find a way to merge a variety of data into the most comprehensive profile. You already know something about the people who want to purchase from you. What you may not know is that there are plenty of look-alikes out there who are just as interested — they just don't know about you yet! Once you have the persona down, those audiences will be far easier to find.

Is There a Danger in Targeting Too Much?

Yes. In 2016, the retail brand Target made headlines for being able to detect when a customer was pregnant — sometimes before the woman's family even knew about it! This can sometimes be perceived as a little overbearing, as though a major corporation is watching your every move. However, as a general rule, people appreciate information they can use rather than useless ads that only add to the recycling bins of the world.

How Can I Obtain a Mailing List?

There are two key types of direct mailing lists:

  • House list: You likely already have the contact information of people you've done business with who are in your CRM. This list can range from repeat or current customers, to people who idly filled out a contact form, have responded to a promotion or have attended an event but have never become customers. This solution is free, and it draws on the people who have already expressed some type of interest in your brand.
  • Buy or rent: There are mailing lists that you can rent or buy if you want to grow your customer base quickly or if you're just getting started in a new venture.

How Much Do Rented or Purchased Lists Cost?

The range of purchased lists can be pretty spread out. A saturated mailing list that contains little more than information you can find in a phone book may only cost a penny a name. A carefully compiled list that lists only those who have purchased related products or services in the past can cost up to $2.50 (or more) a name. Experts recommend shopping around and choosing your list based on the quality of the information — not the quantity or cost.

How Are Outside Lists Generated?

Lists typically fall into two standard categories:

  • Compiled: This list is populated with people who share key traits. So you may be sending your mail to people who identify as amateur cyclists or to small-business owners. A list generator for a compiled list will look at everything from phone records to credit card lists to create direct mailing lists.
  • Response: A response list is populated with people who have already expressed some type of interest in what you do. This may come in the form of having signed up with a competitor's service, or verified data that they've already purchased products like yours.

How Do I Know If My List Is Viable?

You'll really only know the list is viable once you actually run your campaign and see the results for yourself. However, there are a few questions you can ask to find the best direct mailing list services Charlotte, NC:

  • What sources did the company use to generate the names?
  • When was the list last updated and how exactly did the company verify their data?
  • Have your competitors recently used the same list? Has the same list been rented multiple times in the last six months?
  • When was the last time the list was run through the Coding Accuracy Support System or the National Change of Address Database?

Ideally, you're looking for a company that updates their lists at least once a month, and who uses every avenue available to cross-check their data. You should also ask what kind of discounts the company offers based on how many names you use or how many times you use a list.

Can I Purchase Just a Few Names to Test My List?

Some companies will allow you to test the list with a handful of people before you actually buy the full list. However, this will typically mean paying a premium.

Is a House Direct Mail List Better Than a Purchased List?

It truly depends on the business. Some businesses primarily want to maintain their business rather than grow it. The house list is free and can encourage stronger bonds between you and your customers. However, most businesses are using direct mail as a way to generate new business. The right outside list can give you access to customers that you may never even considered before. It can turn your business onto a new demographic who will ultimately double your revenue.

How Can I Improve My House List?

The best way to grow your house list is to either step up your referral game in a big way or to use outside lists to augment your house list. If you want to improve the information you have on your existing customers, consider sending short surveys to them about their buying habits and needs. This is a great way to both serve your customers and identify upselling opportunities at the same time.

You also need to commit to updating your list fairly often. People can move, change phone numbers, or retire in the blink of an eye. If you're not keeping track of these events, you'll end up wasting your time and money while annoying the very customers you wanted to reconnect with.

What Type of Direct Mail Will My Customers Want?

Experts recommend doing whatever you need to do to stand out. This doesn't mean flashy gimmicks or repetitive offers though. Customers like it when they're given a simple message and a clear action. If your first piece of mail did little more than introduce the main highlight of your company (e.g., we're more environmentally friendly than competitors, etc.), you might be surprised at just how effective this tiny piece of information can be.

What Should I Feature on My Direct Mailing Lists?

If it's still unclear exactly how to first dive into your mailing list, marketing experts recommend starting with your number one product or service. Consider why this product or service is so popular, and what your customers really respond to it. Your customers are looking for direct solutions to problems they're experiencing today, or they're looking for a little intrigue on a product or service they didn't even realize they wanted.

Should I Test My Campaigns?

Yes. Running several campaigns with different mailers across different segments of your list is the best (some would say only) way to understand how you can use your lists correctly. Again, testing starts with having the right data and not making assumptions about your customers. Just because a person is a millionaire doesn't mean that that want to show off their wealth, so it may not be practical to start off with that message.

Boingo Graphics understands what it takes to master direct mail lists. If you're looking for the best direct mail list providers, contact us today to learn more about our services. From start to finish, we give you all the input you need to start making a splash with your marketing efforts. No matter how saturated or niche your industry is, there are ways to inspire loyalty in people you've never made contact with before. Let us show you how!

Topics: Direct Mail, Marketing

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