Direct Marketing

Spend Time On Your Direct Mail List

Bill Nichols

June 29, 2022

Bill Nichols

June 29, 2022

Managing a mailing list is no easy feat. The clutter and disorganization happen slowly over time, as recipients move or their name changes without anyone realizing there was an issue with the data in your system- leading to misaligned information and wasted campaign dollars.

After 48 years of experience in direct mail marketing, I can tell you that most companies put way more thought and effort into what they mail than to whom they mail it. Many a great marketing campaign has fallen on its face because of a flawed direct mail list. Here are some things to consider about your mailing list.

How does your direct mail list look?

Have you taken the time to examine your mailing list? I’m not suggesting that you sit down and read 10,000 names and addresses. But scanning your list can give you insight. Like, how did someone from Kalamazoo, Michigan, end up on the mailing list for my store, which serves an audience that lives within 5 miles of its location in Lexington, Kentucky? A scan might also reveal problems caused by sloppy data entry –it’s probably Main Street not Maine Street, for example. If you know your customers well, you might be shocked to find several who have passed away and are still on your direct mail list. Spend a few minutes studying your mailing list and you might decide it is time to give it a major overhaul and update.

Clean up your current list

In order to ensure that everyone's contact information is up-to-date, create a documented process for adding new, or editing existing entries on the mailing list. It should include instructions about what steps need to be taken in each situation so there are no issues.

One of the most common issues with mailing lists is duplicate entries. When someone moves or gets married and changes their name, they may inadvertently be entered into your system more than once. This can obviously cause problems down the road when you're trying to target them with your marketing materials. Outdated information will lead to targeting people with the wrong information.

It is unlikely that you will need to send every piece of mail to everyone on your list, so it is wise to be able to categorize your list. Perhaps, you might want to send out a mailing with specific discount codes for your most valued customers or clients who have not purchased from your business in 6 months. If you are a realtor and your mailing list includes all homeowners in your city, you might want to segment your list by neighborhood so you can send pinpointed messages to homeowners in one part of town. For example, when sending postcards to let homeowners know you have successfully sold a house in that neighborhood. Having these lists organized by category can make these mailings easier to send.

Growing your mail list

As your business changes, your mailing list will need to change as well. Let’s say, for example, that you started out small, selling gluten-free dog biscuits in your hometown. Word has spread and now, you realize that dog owners across the country who have dogs that are gluten-sensitive need your product. A good direct mail company can help you capitalize on that larger market by creating a national mailing list.

On the flip side, your mailing list could be too broad. For example, if you operate a shop that sells knitting supplies, is it smart to send direct mail to every household within 10 miles of its location? Probably not. Better to pinpoint some qualities of your typical customer using gender, age, income, etc., and create a targeted mailing list using those attributes.

Save time and money

Keeping your mailing list accurate and up-to-date is essential for a successful direct mail campaign. It may take a little bit of time and effort, but it is well worth it in the end. Make sure to regularly audit your data to catch any errors and fix them immediately. With a clean, accurate mailing list, you can focus on crafting a message that will resonate with your target audience.

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