One of the best ways for your customers to communicate with their customers and prospects is to send them something – a 4x6" postcard with a QR code that leads to a website, a larger postcard that provides information and perhaps includes a coupon or offer, a newsletter of educational value, or an announcement of an upcoming event. And with less traditional direct mail being sent, the mail piece won’t have as much competition as before for the recipient’s attention.
Help your customers use traditional direct mail by helping them understand about mail lists – what they are, how to use them, and how to maintain them.
Mail List Basic Categories
Mail lists can be generally divided into two basic types: a compiled list and a response list.
• A compiled list is one that has been assembled from different sources, standardized, and (usually) spot-verified. Typical sources of information include government records such as state licensing agencies or registries, public directories such as membership lists or event registrants, and publications such as newspapers or trade journals.
• A response list, in contrast, consists only of those who have responded to a direct mail offer such as magazine subscribers, someone who has requested literature or a sample, or someone who has made a purchase via mail order.
Generally speaking, compiled lists are lower cost and, therefore, are popular for direct mail marketing that is aimed at broad market (all homeowners living within a five-mile radius of a pizza restaurant, for instance).
A compiled list can be made more specific by filters such as household income, age of the head of household, ethnicity, gender, education level, and other factors that are known as selects. However, since the information is not gathered directly from the individual or business on the list, the selects are imputed and so may not be totally accurate. Use of selects usually adds to the base price of a compiled list.
Response lists cost considerably more than compiled lists, and may come with use restrictions such as submitting the mail piece for approval prior to release of the list.
The higher price reflects the higher value of the mail list – not only does the list contain contact information, it also inherently includes information on the buyer’s interest and buying habits.
Whether compiled or response, mail lists are not sold. They are rented by the list broker (compiled list) or list owner (response list) for a one-time use or for multiple use within a specific time period (usually one year).
To check on whether the use restrictions are being followed, mail lists are seeded. Seeding consists of adding names to the list of individuals known to the list owner. These individuals notify the list owner if they receive mail pieces beyond what is allowed by the use agreement.
A house list is a type of compiled list that is owned by a specific business or organization. It is compiled from internal sources such as the list of customers, members, or donors, then augmented to include prospects whose characteristics match those of existing customers.
A house list is one of the most valuable assets a business or organization has, since it facilitates the ability to communicate directly with customers and prospects.
In its simplest form, a house list consists of just the information required to address a mailpiece. But since a house list is under direct control of the business or organization, it can be augmented with other information the business or organization has access to. This might include additional contact information (telephone number, email address) and buying habits (when the last purchase was made, last donation received, or when a membership expires).
A house list has many benefits over a rented list. It can be updated immediately as the billing department or donor relations department becomes aware of a new address or contact name. Outside salespeople or development staff can provide additional contacts so that the list is dynamic and constantly growing.