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Purchasing the Right Mailing List


As you develop your marketing plan of attack, there are three types of mailing lists you want to keep in mind. Each will be used for a different marketing purpose and to target a different type of customer or prospect base.



When it comes to direct marketing, it’s all about the list. Even the most powerful offer sent to the wrong list will produce dismal results. Conversely, when sent to the right list, even a mediocre offer can generate great results. The goal, of course, is to get the right offer to the right list.

What is the “right” list? It’s the one that contains your best customers or prospects. However, what is “right” may change from mailing to mailing.

If you’re focused on customer re-engagement, for example, the “right” list may be people who once bought from you but no longer do. If you are prospecting, it might be one that mirrors the demographic characteristics of your best customers—the ones that buy from you most frequently and spend the most money. If you want to boost sales quickly, however, you might want only the customers with the highest per-order values, even if they aren’t purchasing from you as often.

The better job you do with list selection, the better your chances for success.

Specialty List

These are pre-defined lists that target specific categories of consumers. Parents with young children. Expectant mothers. Health enthusiasts. Pet lovers. Small business owners. New movers. Homeowners. They are great for prospecting and beginning a dialog.

Custom Mailing List

Sometimes you need a list that is more refined than a specialty list. You might be targeting a specific psychographic profile or lifestyle that requires a customized combination of variables. If you’re a natural foods store, for example, you might want a list of consumers within specific ethnic groups, with higher incomes and levels of education, and with young children. If you are a custom home manufacturer, you might want a list of high-income consumers in a specific age bracket, who have great credit, but who are currently renting.

 Cloned List

What if you already have a list that is highly productive and you want to add more customers like them within the same market? Or you want to take your products into a new city or geographic region? You can purchase a cloned list in which you add the names of customers similar to your current and best customers.

All lists are not created equal, and different types of lists can help you accomplish different goals. Keeping in mind these three types of lists can help you expand your print marketing efforts in ways you might not have previously considered.