Mailing Lists 101

January 25th, 2008 2 Comments

The selection of the correct mailing list is one of the most important aspects of a direct mail campaign. An understanding of the basic concepts and options will give you a head start in the process.

 There are three main divisions in mailing lists. There are occupant lists, which simply give you an entry for every address on a carrier’s route, perhaps with the name. Then there are basic and premium lists.

 If you’re trying to reach everyone in a given area, an occupant list can be a good option. For example, if you want to give people within a few miles of your store a discount card to encourage local business, this would be ideal. Because the USPS does less work (they place on piece in every box on a route), the postage is lower when using an occupant list. The downside is, there is a very limited ability to target your prospective customers. Occupant list are very inexpensive, usually around 1 cent per address.

A basic mailing list allows you to select the records for your mailing based on many different criteria. Usually, almost any geographic description of your sales region can be provided. For example, you might want everyone in your county, or within 3 miles of your address. There are a large number of demographic “selects” that are provided in the base cost of most lists. You can select most residential lists by household income, presence of children, home ownership status (rent, mortgage, own), and many more criteria. Business lists can have selects for type of business (by SIC, yellow pages heading, etc), number of employees, annual revenue, years in business and others. In addition, most lists have additional “value-added” selects that can help you tune in even more closely, such as total net worth. Business lists can also have the names of executives selected by title. These are available for a small increment of the base price. With proper modeling of your “ideal customer”, a basic mailing list can go a long way toward finding new ones. Basic mailing lists are a good value as well, with costs around 5-10 cents per contact.

Premium mailing lists are a whole different animal. They are best used when you are trying to reach a very specialized niche market. For example, if you sell kayaks and equipment, you might want a mailing list of the subscribers to a white water rafting magazine. Since the owners of these lists usually are selling the names and addresses of their own customers, they are not cheap. Premium lists usually start around 15 cents per address, and keep going up. It is not unusual to find lists costing over $1.00 per record. However, if you are offering a premium service or product, or need to target your clients very precisely, there are times when nothing less will do.

2 Responses to “Mailing Lists 101”


February 9th, 2008 - 8:24 am

Can I get a mailing list of everyone in Arkansas that has owned their house for less than a year?


February 9th, 2008 - 12:24 pm

Yes. With a basic residential list, you can select based on how long a person has lived at their current address. Usually, the low end of this is one year or less.

There is also a specialty mailing list called a new movers list. You can pull this once, or get it as a subscription each month. If you need to reach people that have moved less than a year ago, or be notified of new arrivals, this is the way to go.

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