Direct mail has been a favored marketing strategy for decades. Despite the advent of digital marketing strategies and online brand management, it remains a highly effective way to reach certain audiences. However, its effectiveness is limited by a variety of factors, including the quality of your mailing list; your direct mail strategy is only going to be as good as the mailing list you’re using to support it.
So what does it take to assemble the “right” mailing list for your campaign?
Why Mailing Lists Are So Important
Let’s start by delving into why mailing lists are so important in the first place.
- Audience targeting. First, a mailing list ensures you’re able to target the right audience. If you’re in the real estate industry, for example, and you’re putting together a list of prospects, you need to make sure everyone you’re reaching lives in an appropriate neighborhood.
- Delivery accuracy. How can you be sure that the address you have is legitimate? Are you sure your target recipient still lives there? A sufficiently scrubbed mailing list will give you confidence in the accuracy of your deliveries.
- Repetition and future strategies. Nailing the mailing list also sets you up for repeated mailers in the future – and possibly the integration of other strategies. It’s much easier to market to an audience repetitively if you have all their accurate contact information in one place.
Getting the Right Mailing List
What steps can you take to put together an effective mailing list?
- Define your target audience first. Before you start building a mailing list, make sure you spend ample time on market research. You should know exactly who your business is targeting and why you’re targeting them. What are your core demographics? How do they think and where do they live? The more information you have, the better; it will help you build a stronger list and reach these people with greater relevance.
- Build the list organically (if you can). It’s possible to buy a mailing list online, reducing the time it takes to get your campaign started. But it’s usually better if you build the list organically. You’ll reach more people and achieve more conversions if the people you’re reaching voluntarily give you their addresses; otherwise, the first piece of mail you send to them might be seen as unwelcome. Use social media outreach, competitions, cold calling, and other strategies to collect information this way.
- Know what kind of data you’re buying. If you do buy a list, make sure you know what kind of data you’re buying. Are you working with a qualified lead generation firm that has a good reputation for supplying customers with accurate, robust lists? Do they take the time to verify records before they supply you with these lists?
- Segment. After you have a rough draft list in place, start segmenting. Not all of your audience will be interested in all your offers. Try to figure out creative ways to divide your audience into groups so you can market to each of them more effectively.
- Remove duplicates. De-duping your list is an important step that can save you money and spare your recipient from the annoyance of getting multiple copies of the same collateral in the mail. Fortunately, it’s easy to do with most software and management tools.
- Test for accuracy/verify. Do what you can to test your records for accuracy. You’ll want to make sure you have complete, accurate, and deliverable addresses – otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money.
- Keep growing. Your mailing list shouldn’t remain stagnant indefinitely. Instead, continue making an effort to attract more people and gather more records; over time, your list should continue to grow.
Additional Tips for Direct Mail Success
There are many things you can do to boost your chances of success, but these tips are a great start:
- Speak to your audience specifically. Too many marketers attempt to reach a bigger audience by speaking in broad terms, but you’re usually better off focusing your message and achieving high relevance with your niche.
- AB test. Experiment with different tactics for the people on your list and measure your results. Sending two versions of the same material is a great way to do it.
- Differentiate your mail from your competitors. Direct mail is a common strategy, so make sure you have a way to make your mail stand out. Small tweaks, like using a higher-quality stock, are sometimes all it takes.
There’s a lot of testing and experimentation involved in any successful direct mail campaign. Take your time, be patient as you navigate this space, and remain flexible as you continue making improvements to your approach.