What Insiders Don’t Want You to Know About Mailing Lists

By: Laurean Callander

So, you’re thinking of launching a direct mail campaign? Here’s a few insider pointers every mailer should know about mailing lists and their campaigns. I can guarantee you, most mailing houses do not want you to know these tips.

Mailing List Tip #1

Mailing List Minimums
Most mailing lists have a minimum of 1,000 records. But that does not mean you have to mail to all 1,000 at a time. Most mailing companies don’t want to talk to you if you are mailing less then 1,000 or 5,000. So, if you are a shoe string marketer, buy the one list, and release from that list as your budget can afford. This will save you lots of money from incurring the minimum fees. The minimum pieces to qualify for the USPS standard mail postage rate is 200, your mail house may impose an internal minimum for their own business operations.

Mailing List Tip #2

Opt for the Multi-Use Mailing List
Mailing lists, by default, come as a single-use list. So, if you didn’t know any better, and you were mailing to the same people every time, you could be getting charged for the same list over and over. For a small upcharge fee, opt for the Multi-Use mailing list, and you can mail to the same people over and over within a specified time frame from the same list. If you are following my previous advise of mailing to the same people at least three times, this becomes a no-brainer.

Mailing List Tip#3

Ask for a copy of your B2B mailing list
When you are going through a mail house, you are literally buying a mailing list, and you are entitled to receive a copy of it. Most lists include names and phone numbers – and in some cases, websites and titles – which is great for B2B prospecting and follow up.

Mailing List Tip#4

Any public information is available as a consumer mailing list
The cheapest mailing lists available care called “Consumer Mailing Lists” and are based upon public records. So, think of what is on your drivers license, property tax bill and court records. All of that is publicly available and can qualify for a cheaper list. For example, say you want to mail to only homeowners, with home values over $200,000 with at least 2 cars. That’s public info, and you can! Before calling a mail house to order your list, see what data you want to target, and control the cost of your mailing list yourself. Keep in mind, that the more data points you include (or filters) the more the mail house may charge you for your list.

The more expensive mailing lists are considered “subscription” lists, and can be very useful for TARGETING a very specific audience. For example, say you have an annual music festival that specializes in JAZZ, and want to increase attendance. Buying a subscription list that features Jazz Enthusiasts or Travel Enthusiasts may yield you higher results then the consumer lists would.

Mailing List Tip#5

It’s cheaper to target your audience then it is to mail to every house on every street.
In recent years, the post office launched its EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) program that includes cheaper postage, if they don’t have to sort your mail. Why? Because revenues at the post office have dropped dramatically. But don’t get caught by the hype!

It is far cheaper to TARGET your list then it is to save on postage through the EDDM program. The only way EDDM works, is if you have a retail shop that everybody in the radius can buy from. For example, say you have a barber shop. Well, most barber shops are for men. Not every household in an EDDM campaign will have men in it (let alone, men with hair!). So, why pay to mail to a household that can’t take advantage of your offer? The cost savings really don’t justify itself, unless you are the grocery store, pizza chain, burger joint or other like establishment.