A strategic approach to building direct mail lists

building direct mail lists

Many companies wield purchased mailing lists like a blunt instrument. They buy a list of names that appear to meet (some) of their criteria and then blast out direct mail campaigns, hoping to generate leads and sales. Unsurprisingly, these “blanket” campaigns deliver disappointing results.

Why? These low-quality lists are a big factor. Building direct mailing lists requires strategy. Not every situation calls for the same type of approach, but they all require a tactic. To maximize your budget and results, you need to think of mailing lists as a scalpel or a laser—targeting the right audience with pinpoint accuracy.

Getting the right offers to the right people

There’s an abundance of services that will sell you customer data. Each of these services has pros and cons. Some offer a larger sample size with similar demographics (but limited accuracy); others are smaller, more accurate, and often more costly upfront.

What do you need from a purchased direct mail list to deliver the leads, new customers, and sales you want? Well, it depends on your objectives and campaign goals.

Every Door Direct Mail

If you sell goods or services to consumers in their homes, your objective may be to “reach as many people as possible.” For local businesses, the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service is a cost-effective way to saturate a geographic area with your direct mail campaign without a highly targeted list.

As the name implies, mailings sent with EDDM arrive at every door on a carrier’s route that matches your preselected criteria, such as zip code. EDDM is simple and affordable—no mailing list required. You can’t target your message by demographic criteria. You can’t personalize your message with individual contact information, but it’s a great choice if you want to raise awareness amongst potential customers within a specific locale.

Marketing products and services B2B

What about companies trying to sell products and services to other businesses? You’ll need to reach and influence a niche, targeted universe of prospects. List quality becomes challenging because contacts frequently change jobs, titles, and positions. The records you buy from many list brokers might not accurately reflect these rapid changes when a targeted mailing list is crucial. Accurate data can make or break your campaign.

Additionally, many companies don’t identify themselves properly. They may rely on SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) and NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) codes, which can fail to completely capture and reflect the nuances of what a company does. A list you purchase from a broker might miss a sizable number of prospects due to inaccurate coding, and they aren’t always the best choice for a B2B campaign.

B2B marketing requires a strategic approach to data because of longer sales cycles. It’s crucial to keep track of details in your own list that help you build relationships and nurture prospects over the long haul. Online contact list-building tools like ZoomInfoUpLead, and Crunchbase can help you get the data you need. These companies comb the internet, compiling a wealth of data and insight from different sources that you can use to target and enhance your sales and marketing efforts to improve response rates. Business mailing lists are critical tools for your marketing efforts, but a good mailing list is only as good as the data. It requires updates on a regular basis to stay fresh. 

How do these list-building tools work?

  • They append and fill in the blanks of your in-house list and existing database records.
  • They recommend “lookalike” contacts and accounts that share demographic or behavioral traits with your compiled list.
  • They offer “watch lists” that provide up-to-date insights and personnel changes within your target accounts.
  • They integrate with popular CRM systems. That means they can push prospect information into your sales and marketing database for immediate action.
  • They capture buyer intent data, enabling you to laser target your offers to prospects ready to buy. They do this by measuring topics being researched by specific organizations at an above-average rate.

A successful mailing list acquisition strategy

For the best results, clarify your objective before purchasing and building direct lists from any source. If you’re selling directly to customers and your product or service appeals to a large potential audience, sourcing a list from a company like D&B is one of the most cost-effective ways to build a list. 

Above all, remember that not all lists are created equal. A cheap list from a dodgy source is a waste of money. A significant portion of your direct mail pieces will never reach your target recipient, and your efforts will be in vain. Each time you consider purchasing a list, request that the brokers guarantee at least a 90% deliverability rate on personal data. Ask questions to ensure you get a quality list with warm sales leads. 

When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of more focused list selection criteria. Always target your lists and your direct mail campaigns to specific groups of prospects and their needs. Increased relevance in today’s message-heavy environment will drive greater engagement, higher-quality leads, and improved sales.

Contact us if you need guidance on the best way to craft a direct mail marketing campaign that will stand out! We have years of experience and are here to help ensure your next campaign is your most successful endeavor yet!