mailing list consumer tips
Combined FAQ Document

  1. The Importance of the Mailing List
  2. How can a direct marketing campaign help my business?
  3. Step By Step Guide
  4. How To Choose A Mailing List Provider
  5. Targeting your Mailing Lists Geography
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Direct Mail Terminology
  8. Key Mailing List Success Tips
The Importance of the Mailing List

Many marketers spend a lot of time and money in the production of the mail piece itself and the actual mailing of the piece. You can have a great product and an attractive mail piece, but if you do not have the proper target market all of your efforts have gone to waste. The mailing list is a key component in any direct marketing campaign. You should not compromise your marketing efforts by cutting corners on the purchase of your mailing lists. There are millions of mailing lists available and a little research can go a long way. Study your product or offer and determine your best target.

  • Who would want or need to purchase my product?
  • Should I market to businesses or households?
  • How will my product benefit the consumer?
  • What is the best geographical market?
  • Can I market my product nationwide?
  • Do I need to narrow my geography to a more local region?
How can a direct marketing campaign help my business?

Most any type of business can benefit from a mailing campaign. Here are some examples of how a targeted mailing can promote a business, service or product.

  • Increase sales
  • Increase profits
  • Increase customers
  • Increase awareness
  • Fund raising
  • Advertise seminars or trade shows
  • Market research and analysis
  • Promote new products
  • Promote political campaigns

Remember, mailing lists can get very targeted. For example, if you are targeting households you can narrow your search by age, income, homeowner, female present, child present and many more. Business mailing lists can be broken down by sales volume, employee size, type of business(SIC Codes), phone numbers and fax numbers. Just ask your mailing list broker.

Step By Step Guide

Analyze your product and your present customer
Understand who would benefit from your product or service
Study your competitors and how they market the product

This will help you in understanding what types of mailing lists may be best for your target market.

Review your budget, sample costs of direct mail can include:
  • Postage
  • Design of the mail piece
  • Printing of the mail piece
  • List purchase
  • Processing by the mail house
  • Fulfillment of orders
Make sure you schedule ahead because a successful direct mail campaign takes time. Rushing can lead to mistakes and each step is very important.

Designing of the mail piece
The readability and the attractiveness of your mail piece are very important so that the consumer will open and read your offer.

Printing of the mail piece
Make sure you check with the post office before printing the mail piece to make certain that the mail piece meets all postal regulations.

Purchase of the mailing list
This is as important as all other aspects of your campaign. Analyze your target consumer and pick the list that best suits you needs. A list broker can give you valuable tips and advice and the service will cost you nothing. A mailing list broker has access to most all available lists so they will provide you with the best list that suits your needed. List owners would only want to sell their own list. So the services of a broker can be more widespread because they are not offering just their own lists the options can be greater.

Preparing your mailing for bulk rate delivery
An experienced mail house does this best because they will prepare the mailing pieces for entry into the postal stream. Their services can include applying the postage, sorting the mail for bulk rate savings, stuffing envelopes and affixing the addresses. If you are doing a large mailing these processes can be very time consuming and labor intensive.

Delivery time by the Post Office
If you have time sensitive materials you must take delivery time in to consideration.

Analysis of the results
You can measure the success of your campaign by tracking the responses and the number of new customers that are generated from your efforts. Remember, just a few new customers can more than cover the cost for the campaign. Evaluate what was successful and tailor your next mailing to meet those needed.

How To Choose A Mailing List Provider

Choose a company that can offer a wide variety of mailing lists. An effective list broker has access to most all available mailing lists. This way your marketing efforts will not be limited to just a few types of lists. If you purchase from a company that only offers consumer lists then if you wanted to expand your prospects to businesses you would then have to go to another company for the business lists.

A mailing list broker will be able to provide you with a greater variety of services and mailing lists verses going directly to the mailing list compiler. The compiler will obviously favor their own lists where as a broker will have access to a wide variety of mailing lists where they will be able to help you choose the best list for your target market. A broker can usually offer better pricing than going to the compiler because of the volume discounts offered to brokers.

List response is often confused with list deliverability. A list could be 100% deliverable, but perhaps you did not get any responses to your offer. Automatically it is assumed that the list was "no good." It could be that the mailing list was targeted to the wrong market. Again, we stress the importance of making the mailing list work for you by knowing your target audience. Keep in mind that the national rate of response for direct mail is ˝ to 1% and depends on many factors….attractiveness of your mail piece, cost of your product and timing of the mailing.
See our step by step guide.

When should I order my mailing list? Timing is critical. Your mailing list is custom ordered - it is not sitting on a shelf waiting to be mailed. It generally takes 4-5 working days to produce a standard order on printed material or magnetic media. Many mailing lists are now available by e-mail format but it can still take 24-48 hours depending on the list. Make sure you allow plenty of time to receive your list. A general rule of thumb would be to order your mailing list before ordering your printed material. If the list you have ordered has gone through an update, or a count was pulled incorrectly (this can happen) your count may have changed. A discrepancy of even 500 names may affect printing and mailing costs.

If you have dated material to mail - make sure you allow enough time for your mailing piece to be delivered. The post office has 2 working days days to process your mail, BUT your mail could go to 3-4 different post offices before it is delivered. It could be 6-8 days before your piece actually reaches its destination. If you have taken your mail to the post office a week before your sale, you run the risk of it being delivered on the day of the sale or after the sale has already occurred - resulting in disastrous consequences.

Remember to plan in advance when purchasing your mailing lists and planning your direct mail campaign.

Targeting your Mailing Lists Geography

Following is a guide for selecting the geography for your mailing list by sectional center (the first 3 digits of the zip code). If you need to cover an area broader than just by the zip code selecting the first 3 digits is a great way of doing that. The chart below shows you the SCF ranges for the major metropolitan areas within the US. If you wanted to target the LA area just let your mailing list broker know that you would like to target sectional centers 900-918.

State City S.C.F.
Alabama Birmingham 350-352
Mobile 365-366
Arizona Phoenix 850-853
Tucson 856-857
Arkansas Little Rock 720-722
California Los Angeles 900-918
Santa Anna-Anaheim 926-928
Bakersfield 932-933
Fresno 936-937
Oakland 945-948
Oxnard-Ventura 930-931
Sacramento 956-958
San Bernardino-Riverside 923-925
San Diego 920-921
San Francisco 940-941,943
San Jose 950-951
Santa Rosa-Petaluma 954
Stockton 952-953
Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa 945-948
Colorado Colorado Springs 808-809
Denver 800-806
Connecticut Bridgeport-Milford 068-069
Hartford-New Britain 060-061
New Haven-Meridan 064-066
Delaware Wilmington 197-198
District of Columbia Washington 200-205
Maryland Suburban 206-209
Virginia Suburban 220-223
Florida Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach 330-333
Jacksonville 320-322
Lakeland-Winter Haven 338
Palm Bay
Miami 330-333
Orlando 327-328
Tampa-St. Petersburg 335-337
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton 334
Georgia Atlanta 300-303
Augusta 308-309
Hawaii Honolulu 967-968
Illinois Chicago 600-606
Joliet 604-605
Peoria 615-616
Rockford 610-611
Indiana Gary-Hammond 463-464
Indianapolis 460-462
Iowa Davenpont, Iowa-
Rock Island, Illinois
Kansas Wichita 670-672
Kentucky Louisville 400-402
Louisiana Baton Rouge 707-708
New Orleans 700-701
Shreveport 710-711
Maryland Baltimore 210-214
Massachusetts Boston 017-022
Springfield 010-011
Worcester 014-016
Michigan Detroit 480-483
Flint 484-485
Grand Rapids 493-495
Lansing 488-489
Saginaw-Bay City 486-487
Minnesota Minneapolis-St. Paul 550-554
Mississippi Jackson 390-392
Missouri Kansas City 640-641
St. Louis 630-633
Nebraska Omaha 680-681
Nevada Las Vegas 890-891
New Jersey Atlantic City 080-084
Bergen-Passaic 074-076
Jersey City 070-073
Monmouth-Ocean 077,087
Newark 070-073
Trenton 085-086
New Mexico Albuquerque 870-871
New York Albany-Schenectady 120-123
Buffalo 140-143
Nassau-Suffolk 115-116
New York City 100-114
Rochester 144-146
Syracuse 130-132
Utica-Rome 133-135
North Carolina Charlotte 280-282
Raleigh-Durham 275-277
Oklahoma Oklahoma City 730-731
Tulsa 740-741
Ohio Akron 442-443
Canton 446-447
Cleveland 440-441
Columbus 430-432
Dayton 453-455
Toledo 434-436
Youngstown 444-445
Lancaster 175-176
South Carolina Charleston 294
Columbia 290-292
Greenville-Spartanburg 293,296
Tennessee Chattanooga 373-374
Johnson City 376
Knoxville 377-379
Memphis 380-381
Nashville 370-372
Texas Austin 786-787
Beaumont 776-777
Dallas 750-752
El Paso 798-799
Ft. Worth-Arlington 760-761
Houston 770-775
San Antonio 780-782
Utah Salt Lake City 840-841
Virginia Norfolk-Virginia Beach 233-237
Richmond-Petersburg 230-232
Washington Seattle 980-982
Spokane 990-992
Tacoma 983-984
Wisconsin Madison 535-538
Milwaukee 530-534

Frequently Asked Questions

Response Rate?
Begin tracking the results of your direct mail campaign as the first responses start to come in. The best way to measure the success of direct mail is to analyze the results to determine your best course of action. Response rates will vary because there are many factors that go into a direct mail campaign. Important components include the mail piece itself, your offer or product, timing of your mailing and of course the mailing list.

How do I narrow the geography?
You are able to narrow your target by selecting the geography that you think will best suit your target market. You can select the geography by state, county, SCF, zip code or by carrier route of the postal carrier if you need to get even more specific. Carrier routes can usually be obtained from your post office or by going to their website SCF is the first 3 digits of a zip code that is a useful way to target a broader area than pulling just by zip code.

Will all of my mail pieces be delivered?
Direct mail is a very effective method of marketing a product or service, and the mailing list is a very important part of the of the campaign. However, mailing lists cannot by guaranteed 100%. Look for a mailing list that is guaranteed to be at least 90% deliverable. This is an industry standard with most business and residential marketing mailing lists. Some of your more specialized mailing lists should be guaranteed to be about 95% deliverable.

When should I do my mailing?
This depends on the product you are selling. If you are selling Christmas ornaments you would want to start your marketing efforts in the fall. If you are selling a gardening tool you may want to consider the spring to start your campaign. It is important to analyze your product and the target market to determine the best timing for your mailing campaign.

How often should I repeat my mailing?
When a consumer sees a product more than once or twice that consumer is more likely to remember. Humans learn by repetition and the more something is put in front of them the more likely they would be to respond to the offer. So, depending on your product or offer the answer to this question can vary. With your first mailing you can determine what worked best and what did not work, so with your additional mailings you can revise your mail piece and your offer to best suit your needs. Follow up mailings are best done fairly close together so that the consumer can recall the product.

Should I follow up with a phone call?
You can enhance your mailing efforts with a telemarketing program. Most mailing lists have phone numbers available as well. This is a good tool to use as a follow up to a direct marketing campaign to remind the consumer of your product or service.

Direct Mail Terminology

An individual who is a current subscriber to a particular magazine or any other type of goods and services. Active subscriber lists are a very targeted way of reaching customers.

Usually with subscriber lists the list user has to have prior approval for a particular mail date. This is to avoid overlaps in mailings from other users.

One who has purchased products from a catalog

The mail carrier's delivery area

This process arranges the mailing list in the order of the postal carrier's delivery route. The US Post Office gives additional postage discounts for this sorting.

This type of label is a print out that is usually 4 names and addresses across by 11 names down. A special Cheshire machine must be used to cut, apply the glue and affix the label to the mail piece. Check with your mail house to make sure they can use this format.

A percentage of the sale of a mailing list paid to the broker or list manager for the usage of the list.

Any list created from the compilation of public sources such as phone books, deed information, directories, newspapers and courthouse records.

A company that puts together various pieces of information to form a list of individuals that has similar characteristics, such as age, income and buying habits.

A mailing in which multiple offers are included in the same envelope. This can cut costs for all of the mailers.

This is the number of addresses that fit a certain criteria in the target market.

A 3.5" floppy diskette is one format for which your mailing list can be provided on. The standard format is ASCII Comma Delimited, which is IBM compatible.

A unique name inserted into a mailing list to track the usage of the list.

Information concerning socioeconomic characteristics pertaining to a geographic unit.

A service that enables individuals to have their name and address removed from mailing lists

An electronic format in which you can receive your mailing list information

Individuals who have let their subscription to a publication expire

A method of printing mailing list information line by line. Also called a manuscript

The most recent names added to a mailing list, usually defined in 30 day increments

A list compiled of those who have previously purchased from your own company. This would be your customer base.

A list of those who have only inquired about your services, but have not actually purchased. This is great prospect information.

A code, such as letters, numbers or markings that are added to the mailing label to accurately test response rates and list quality.

A specialist who makes all the arrangements for one company to rent the mailing list(s) of another company. You usually receive better pricing from a list broker because the list compilers base pricing on the volume of business.

The process of updating a mailing list by correcting and/or removing a name because it is no longer correct.

A bartering system by which companies will trade the use of a mailing list for another list, product or service.

The process of keeping mailing lists up to date

This person is the agent responsible for the use of the mailing list by others. This person would update and market the list to others.

Someone who has compiled a database of names that have common characteristics.

When a mailer purchases a list of names the list is for 1 time use unless purchased for additional usages.

One can further define a mailing list by targeting by additional selections such as age, income, homeowner etc.

The media that is used to compile the names on a mailing list

A storage device for electronically recording and reproducing defined bits of data

The date on which a user has the obligation to mail a specific mail piece from list agreed on by the list owner

One who orders merchandise or services through the mail

Combining two or more lists usually in a predetermined sequence

Combining two or more lists while simultaneously eliminating duplicate names

One who has bought two or more times from the same company

A fractional unit of selection that is repeated in sampling a mailing list

An agreement between the list owner and the list user in which the list owner agrees to accept adjusted payment less that the total names shipped.

An agreement between the list owner and the user to pay only for names that survive a given screen

A mailing piece returned by the Postal Service because of an inaccurate or undeliverable name and address

The product or service that is being sold or promoted

List rental agreement in which it is understood that the mailer will not use the names on the list more than one time without prior approval of the list owner

A test between one mailing piece with another

An item offered for free to a buyer as an enticement to purchase or obtain for trial a product or service offered via mail order

One who buys a product or service to get another product or service that is usually free or offered at a special price, or who responds to an offer of a special product premium on the package or label of another product

A mailing label printed on a peel off sticker that can be affixed to the mail piece

These are single-line listings including the name, address and phone number mainly used for telemarketing or follow-ups to a mailing.

Any character or quality attributed to the lifestyle or attitude of a customer.

A list compiled of people who have responded to an offer either by mail, phone or through other means of mass communication.

The price charged by a list owner for addresses run or produced but not used by a specific mailer. When such a charge is made it is usually made to cover extra processing costs.

An example of the mailing piece being mailed by the list user that is submitted to the list owner for prior approval before release of the list.

The first three digits of a zip code area

A numerical classification of businesses as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce

Two or more samples from the same list considered to be representative of the entire list.

The number of bits of information that can be included in each inch of magnetic tape (1600 BPI, 6250 BPI)

A printout of the data on a magnetic tape used to check for accuracy and readability

A map of the data included in each record and its location

A term used to identify each of the parts in a split test

An additional line of copy added to an address to aid in deliverability.

One who buys a product for a limited time with the understanding that the item may be returned before paying for the item

One who subscribes to a publication on the basis that the subscription may be canceled, purchased at a lower rate or there could be a delay in payment option.

After a merge purge has been done the names that have appeared on one list only, not a duplicate.

All mailing lists are provided numerically by zip code unless otherwise requested.

Key Mailing List Success Tips

  1. Know your consumer
  2. Provide your mailing list broker with an accurate description of your product or offer. The broker may have suggestions as to the type of list that would best suite your needs.
  3. Know the difference is a response and a compiled mailing list.
    -Response mailing lists are comprised of individuals who have responded to an offer either through the mail, phone, and television or through other means of mass communication.
    -Compiled mailing lists are a compilation of information from public records and sources such as the phone book, courthouse records, bankruptcy filings, mortgage deed records and more.
  4. Have a customer profile-address your offer to an individual. Understand your customers' needs and desires
  5. What is your offer? Be straight forward and enticing in the merchandising of your product
  6. Make sure there is quality in your offer. How can the consumer benefit from your product?
  7. Evaluate your costs. What is the cost per lead verses the pricing of your product?
  8. The appearance of your mail piece should look personal so the consumer is more likely to open it.
  9. You may want to include informative brochures and testimonials regarding your offer.
  10. Track responses. You can evaluate the success of your mail campaign by analyzing and tracking the response so with your next mailing you can make adjustments to increase responses, thus increasing business and profitability.
  11. Many times it does take more than one contact with a consumer to turn a prospect into a loyal customer.
Mailing Lists   Importance of Mailing Lists
Mailing Lists   Increasing your Business
Mailing Lists   Step-by-Step Guide
Mailing Lists   Planning a Campaign
Mailing Lists   Targeting your Geography
Mailing Lists   SIC Codes
Mailing Lists   Mailing List FAQ
Mailing Lists   Terminology
Mailing Lists   Key Success Tips
Mailing Lists   Large FAQ
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