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How to Get a Mailing List for Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail has experienced a resurgence, with 73% of Americans saying it’s a preferred advertising method. However, to fully capitalize on it, it’s essential that you have a solid contact list for direct mail marketing. When compiling a list, you have two main options — either purchasing or renting one, or building one from scratch.

Generally speaking, growing your own list is preferable. This is due to the fact that buying contacts can potentially result in poor quality leads, a low open rate, and damage to your reputation (if people receive mail they don’t want). Here’s how to assemble a mailing list for marketing, along with specific techniques and strategies to consider using.

Identify Your Target Audience

First, you need to identify who it is you’re trying to reach with your direct mail marketing. This not only ensures you send relevant offers to the right leads, but it should also help maximize your return on investment (ROI) and prevent unnecessary friction to keep your reputation positive. Note that it can be useful whenever you’re retargeting leads later on.

Here are some common ways to segment a target audience:

  • Location;
  • Demographic;
  • Interests and traits;
  • Shopping behavior;
  • Sales stage;

If you’re a B2B company, you’ll want to segment your audience by industry, including niches like:

Consider Your Mailing Strategy

There are two basic mailing strategies to choose from — targeted mailing and saturation mailing. Targeting mailing is sending direct mail to leads based on specific criteria, such as their location, demographic, or interests. Saturation mailing is sending direct mail to every address in a location. 

The pros of targeted mailing are that it can result in higher quality leads and potentially a higher ROI. The drawback is that it requires considerable research, which can be time-consuming. With saturation mailing, there isn’t much research involved, and you can get a high volume of direct mail leads relatively quickly. However, this tactic can lower the overall quality of your leads, and tends to have a lower ROI.

Draw from Your Existing Customers

A good, reliable technique is to use your existing customers’ information to construct your mailing list. You could, for example, tap into your customer database or CRM software to quickly obtain physical addresses from people you already have on file. Some advantages of this method include that it’s easy to create a basic list and there’s a certain level of pre-existing rapport. The main drawback is that you run the risk of potentially upsetting people when they receive direct mail they didn’t ask for.

Look at External Sources

Another approach is to leverage external sources outside your company, such as newspapers, trade associations, and customer websites. These sources often have a high volume of contacts, with many being potential leads that meet your target audience’s criteria. Note that newspapers should be based in your immediate area, and trade associations and customer websites should be hyper-relevant to your industry.

Try EDDM Marketing

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is an easy way to advertise in your local community. Simply choose the location you want to target, identify ZIP codes and neighborhoods, and plan your mailing campaign. It’s highly customizable, and you can filter your list based on demographics like age, income, and household size by tapping into up-to-date data from the U.S. Census. 

Use a platform like the USPS EDDM Online Tool to explore your options and get set up with the ability to send anywhere from 200 to 5,000 pieces of mail per day.

Use Email Marketing to Your Advantage

You can also combine your traditional and digital marketing strategies by using your email marketing list to build your direct mail list. There is a form of integrated marketing that’s most easily done by including slightly longer email signup forms on your website. Rather than just asking for a person’s name and email address, for example, you would also ask for their physical mailing address. 

As long as your offering has legitimate value — an eBook, whitepaper, and webinar are good examples — a good portion of people will be willing to give over their mailing address. Then, you send them relevant direct mail based on the topic they’re interested in to create a highly-personalized experience. This is a great way to merge traditional tactics in the digital world.

Offer a Promotion

Consider offering a limited-time promotion or hosting a giveaway to build your mailing list. This can provide the right incentive needed to persuade prospects to give out their mailing addresses. The key to being successful is to ensure your offer is attractive enough to get people’s attention. 

Make it easy for people to give you their contact information. If you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, prospects could drop their business card in a box to enter a contest. If you’re online, you can run promotions and giveaways while giving participants an easy way to give out their contact information through a signup form.

Purchase a List

Purchasing a list is certainly an option worth mentioning, with the potential to quickly reach a large volume of targeted leads. When done correctly, purchasing or renting a list essentially provides access to a decent number of leads quickly — many of which will likely have a genuine interest in your products or services. The key to a successful campaign is to work with a direct mailing specialist. They’ll use sophisticated techniques, such as data resource targeting, competitive analysis, and detailed reporting to inform the list they provide.

Keep Your List Up-to-Date

Finally, it’s important to think of a mailing list as being dynamic rather than static. People may ask to be removed, change locations, or simply no longer have a need for your products or services. It’s important to perform continual upkeep and maintenance to the list to make sure that it’s up-to-date with qualified prospects. Incorporating one or more of the strategies mentioned above can help to both compile and refresh a direct mailing list.