A good direct mail targeting list is key to a great mailing campaign. Basically, if you’re not targeting the right people, don’t bother. A pizza shop targeting people 50 miles away won’t be selling any pizzas from postcards.

Direct Mail Targeting: Scout
Hey look, a photograph that targets photographers… meta…

Personalization and targeting are essential to making your campaign effective. That being said, list building can sometimes get overwhelming. Where do you start? We’ve talked about this in some detail in the past. Consider this post your primer to direct mail targeting.

Here’s what you have available to you and how to use it.

Your Options For Direct Mail Targeting Lists

Direct Mail Targeting Lists

Building an effective direct mailing list starts with a your customer. Are your targeting consumers, businesses, or properties? Each of these segments contains a ton of options and can dramatically impact your conversion. Know thy customer!

Consumer Data:

You can build a direct mail targeting list based on demographics. For example age, marital status, household health habits, income, etc. Consumer targeting can be super specific. Break down your ideal target by the following segments:

  • Location: Based on geographic data. Examples include city, proximity to an address, zip code, neighborhood, etc.
  • Demographic: Your target consumer’s age, number of kids, or gender.
  • Lifestyle: Including hobbies. Are they a runner? A photographer? Own a boat?
  • Purchase history: You can also use a consumer’s tendency to shop in specific ways – i.e. online or via a catalog to narrow it down.
  • Life events: New parents, movers or retirees all fall under this category.

Here’s a comprehensive list for consumer data:

Direct Mail Lists: All Consumer Options

Occupant Data:

We’ve written a lot about the difference between consumers and occupant lists, specifically that the consumer data file only has 75% of all addresses, where the occupant file has 95%+ of addresses. There are a few benefits of buying an occupant list vs targeting and sending directly via EDDM (no cost for the “list” portion):

  1. Occupant lists are much more targeted than carrier routes.
  2. You can include personalization or tracking on a per-address level.
  3. You can do crazy specific mapping, outside of the limits of USPS carrier routes.

If you think that you want to do reverse email matching, add peoples names, or do much more specific demographic targeting… go with consumer lists. If distance is your primary targeting factor, go with occupant data. It’s always worth a quote so you can compare your personal benefits with the cost savings in targeting entire carrier routes. Usually occupant data is much cheaper than consumer data, so be aware.

Occupant Targeting

Property Data:

You can also target specific properties. Select from data segments on everything from financial information, such as loan amounts or home equity, to the number of rooms in a home.

You can also pair this data with consumer targeting. Start with homes and narrow things down further by the types of consumers who live in those homes. 

Here’s a comprehensive list for property data:

Direct Mail Targeting: Property Details

Business Data

Direct Mail Targeting: Business

Need to narrow in on a specific type or kind of business? There’s a list for that, too. Start by breaking down the customer you’re looking for into three different categories:

  • Geographic: Is there a particular area where most of your current customers are today?
  • Business type: Are you targeting a Fortune 500 company? Or after the hardware store down the street? Mailing lists also differentiate between Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
    • *It’s worth noting that most major distributors distribute lists based on SIC, not the NAICS, with a few exceptions.
  • Company stats: Firmographic stats will help you to build out a more concise customer profile.

Narrowing in on Business Data

Direct Mail Targeting: Narrowing

With a little extra spend, you can add additional details on each of those categories:

  • Business detail
    • Legal status
    • Number of computers
  • Specialty
    • Commercial credit score
    • Veteran owned
  • Phones and contacts
    • Phones
    • Job titles

It’s worth keeping in mind that some targeting criteria can cost you more. But, some can be added as part of the basic list price. Make sure you’re only targeting the segments that define your ideal customer. 

Here’s a comprehensive list for business data:

Direct Mail Lists: All Business Targeting

You Can Add Email, Too!

Direct Mail Lists: Email

We can also add on email addresses to many physical addresses. Or you can specify up front that you only want to match households that also have an email address associated with them. Our average match rate is 25% and are CAN-SPAM compliant.

So where do you get all of the information?

Time spent on your list is time well spent. Here are some of your options for buying lists.

  • Mailers Haven: Mailers Haven is who we use. Mailers Haven has high-quality data with a guaranteed delivery rate. They also offers consumer data through both the Excelsior and Acxiom databases.
    • When to use Excelsior: If you need the highest-quality, most up-to-date statistics, you’ll want to choose the Excelsior Premium Consumer file. While the reach is more narrow than Acxiom, it provides the most accurate information about your selected demographics.
    • When to use Acxiom: If reaching the broadest audience possible is your aim, then Acxiom is your best bet. Acxiom has over 700 data points from life stages to hobbies, which will help you to reach as many potential customers as possible.
  • InfoUSA: InfoUSA is well known and you can use their tool to target yourself. Their biggest differentiator is that they enable their customers to program the lists themselves via an online tool, versus having to work through a broker.
  • Send With Scout: Hey, that’s us! In addition to our postcard design chops, we’re also able to help with targeting the market and customer that you’re after. Message Jordan in the corner.

There’s a lot out there when it comes to direct mail targeting lists. If you arm yourself with the right data and the right tools to fuel your campaign though, you’ll be well on your way to building your most effective mail targeting list yet.