Buying a Direct Mail List? Ask these questions first.
You probably just Googled, “buy direct mail list” and were looking to shop for a list. But, you should consider if a direct mail campaign is appropriate for you first. I run a company that is built on direct mail, but there are tons of people I tell not to run a direct mail campaign. Direct mail it isn’t right for everyone at every stage. Honestly, you should optimize your free channels first and your business should have a strong grasp of your ideal customer before you invest in direct mail. Here are the three things that should be true before you buy your next or first direct mail list.
- You -shouldn’t- be a new business. You should know everything about your best customers before you buy a direct mail list. Don’t start with direct mail.
- You should should know everything about your customers first and send postcards to the less engaged ones first, buy a direct mail list as your last option.
- You should know the one key benefit of your product to your customer. Know their viewpoint deeply. Do not talk about features!
We often chat with company leaders looking to try direct mail as their first channel. That almost never makes sense. You need to deeply understand your customer, understand the key benefits they get from your product, and also you should have already optimized your free or cheap channels.
The better you know your customers, the better you can explain your product to new customers and send postcards to those that you know will benefit from your solution.
1. Insource Your Direct Mail List
Always try to insource your list. Think critically. Here are some ideas where
- What about current customers who have dropped off?
- How about customers who aren’t very active?
- What about customers that only got half way through the funnel?
Sending postcards to people who know your brand is the single greatest thing you can do to boost your conversion rate. We can even help you build a list with demographics that are based off your current best customers, a lookalike list. Before you buy a direct mail list, start with the customers who know you.
If you’re in real estate you can often work with your title company to get free mailing lists.
2. Know Your Customer’s Benefit
I say be big because postcard marketing isn’t the first place you should start. You shouldn’t just go and buy a direct mail list unless you have a bunch of customers, know your big benefit to them, and have optimized your free channels first. The chart below is the life of a startup as told by Paul Graham. It’s really a good chart for any business, though.
I’ve added a color legend that should give you an idea when you should consider sending postcards.
We can do look-alike lists based on your best customers, so start there. Or if you know your customers really well, but don’t have their addresses… read here and here. These posts will give you some direction on how to narrow down the 700+ criteria that are available to you.
How are your email campaigns? What about talking to current customers and getting them to use your product more? Start with those things first.
3. Get Emails from Addresses First
I really hope no one reads this far down or reads this critically, because I’m basically telling you to NOT send postcards first to a list you bought.
But Jordan, I really want to give you money. Ok, but not all the money! If you are buying a list, you can actually run it through an email match (or we can). On average, there’s a 25% hit rate of matching physical addresses with email addresses. So, if you’re big, you know your customers, you don’t have any internal customer lists, and you’ve decided to buy a direct mail list… well run it through email match first and email these folks. See if it works, it’s much cheaper than postcards.
Talk to us about your list, they’re the most important piece of your campaign and my advice is totally free.
Buy a Direct Mail List by Zip Code or Addresses
Ok if you’re convinced you are ready for a direct mail targeting list here are some places to start. If yoiu want to buy a business, consumer, or property list you should know your targeting options. Here is a post on how to get in touch with our favorite direct mail list companies.
If you’re just targeting by location, consider doing EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) as it’s cheaper because of postage savings, if less precise. If you’re going with EDDM, here are the prices for 10+ direct mailing companies.