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How to create a direct mail list

Mailing lists are very important to the outcome of a direct mail campaign. Get the message to the right person at the right time and you are well on your way to success. Having a “bad” list can likewise sink all your hard work. Let’s take a look at how to best compile a list for maximum success.

First, create a customer profile which is a description of your best client. Then, try and pick some demographics and behavior characteristics which describe your ideal client.

Demographics can include: gender, age, household income/net worth, children present in the home, marital status, homeowner status, the year a home was built, pet ownership and many more. Businesses many look for industry type (SIC codes), company size (sales volume and number of employees) and job title.

Consumer behaviors may include: hobbies, magazine subscriptions, charities supported and political affiliations. Behavior characteristics for companies may include buying authority, magazine subscriptions to trade journals and equipment purchases.

Where do you find the data for your mailing list? You can gather or use internal company records or rent a list from a list broker or service provider such as a printer or mail house. Types of lists include compiled lists which are demographic lists compiled by a list provider and response lists which are typically behavior-based lists of consumers who responded to something such as buying from a catalog. There are also specialty lists available such as new movers. Saturation lists include every business or residence in a geographic area and are ideal for local businesses such as restaurants.

You will need to consider your budget. How many pieces can you afford to mail? Most list companies will provide a complimentary list count, then you are able to purchase the entire list or just a certain portion.  Your list can be developed based on geography so you are able to purchase a list based on zip codes or even a radius from your business.

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