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Digital Marketing

All about mailing lists

IT’S OKAY. The title of this article may be a bit misleading. I probably should have titled it “some things about mailing lists”. I’m not really going to cover everything about mailing lists.

There is too much to cover. Today I will cover the basics.

So if you’re a bit new to direct mail, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of this article.

So are you ready?

What is a mailing list?

That seems fine to me. In simpler terms, these are names that should represent your target market. In other words, it is who you are sending your sales pitch or offer to.

Types: Believe it or not, there are different types of mailing lists that you can choose from. And you must be very demanding. In fact, one of the most reliable places to start looking for your list is the SRDS Direct Mail List Sourcebook.

Professionals in this business hate to admit it, but it’s better to have a good list with good writing skills and a poor product than to be a top copywriter with a hot product, sent to the wrong list.

So, as you can see, this is very important.

Let’s look at the most common types.

compiled. These name lists are typically compiled from various sources such as phone books, public records, directories, court records, surveys, etc. These lists are usually the least productive.

Subscriber. As the name suggests, these lists are exactly what they say they are…subscribers to something like a magazine or newsletter. These lists can be great for sending your offer, but not nearly as powerful as real “buyer” lists.

Buyer. These are made up of real people who bought from the company. For example, Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Catalog Buyers is a list of everyone who bought from your catalog. As you can see, these are some of the best names you could email. But there is another type that, if managed correctly, is the most profitable list you can mail to and this list is called…

House. This is your list of buyers. And it is without a doubt the most profitable asset you could have. If you don’t have a list of houses, then you should start building one today!


Let me explain some of the mailing list jargon. This will help you when looking for a mailing list to rent.

For starters, when you get a mailing list, you’re renting the list, not buying it. It is usually rented for a single use. Other terms such as unlimited use are sometimes resolved.

A-list broker can be compared to a real estate agent. he represents the buyer. On the other hand, a list manager (Think again of the real estate agent), except that it represents the saddle.

Most of the good mail order companies make their names available for rent. It’s a great source of additional income and they do nothing more than deliver the new names each month to their list manager.

So now you come in and you want to rent the mailing lists and try to sell your stuff to your customers or subscribers.

data cards They are the list of a list. In other words, it summarizes the details about the mailing list. There are a lot of details on a data card, but I’ll highlight a few things here. By the way, your listing broker should be able to give you all the information you need. Just ask.

Last update. This is the date the list added new names to the file. You’ll want to make sure the list is updated frequently and has the most recent names available.

list cost. This is the rental charge listed. The cost is per thousand and can range from $100 per thousand to more than $200 per thousand. Keep in mind that the more specific the list, the higher the cost.

Sales unit is the average amount people spent on mailing lists. It’s best to get a listing with a comparable unit of sale for your own stuff.

list source. This tells you where the names come from. For example, names could be generated from:


Direct mail or direct mail sold



Print (space ads, magazines, newspapers, classified ads, etc.)

Compiled (from public records, warranty cards, etc.)

Attendees (of a conference or meeting)

Segments/Selections. This gives you options to select names based on a region, gender, or other demographics.

ListDescription is a summary of the people on the list.

Usage List/Continued. This provides invaluable details to help you decide whether or not to rent the list. This shows you which other senders have used the list. It is often divided between those who have tried the list and those who have continued it.

So, if you see a referrer who has tried and continued a list you’re considering, and their offer is like yours, then there’s a good chance the list will work for you.

I’ve covered some aspects of mailing lists, but only scratched the surface here. Call your listing broker and ask questions. Order data cards and study them. I am also available to help.

Until next time.

Yours for higher profits.


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