Direct Marketing 101: Perfect Your Direct Mail Mailing List

Posted by Dave Olesen on Aug 23, 2017 11:55:47 AM

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While many incorrectly assume the direct mail industry is struggling, research proves otherwise. It’s actually a unique, effective way to form a physical relationship with your customers. Think about how many emails you get in a day that go unread and deleted. Email marketing is a quick way to reach people, but not always effective. Now, think about when you receive a piece of direct mail. You likely read it, even if you do throw it away. You may leave it on the countertop or put it on the fridge, especially if it’s a promotional piece for a brand you like.  

Used correctly, direct mail can dramatically increase your engagement level with your customers and help maximize your return on investment. That said, there are several key factors to ensuring your direct mail marketing efforts are successful. This series will highlight those things for you so you’ll be set up for success. Even if you’ve been doing direct mail for some time, it’s always important to review all aspects of your campaign to improve your results. We’ll start with the first step -- your direct mail mailing list.

Identify Your Audience
It’s crucial to understand the importance of the contacts on your direct mail mailing list. The USPS® offers a targeting tool called Every Door Direct Mail®, which requires you to mail to all households in whatever carrier route you choose. This tool is presented as a targeting tool because it gives information on demographics, but it doesn’t actually allow you to target based on certain demographics -- just shows you the statistics for each carrier route. So, you’ll end up spending money on mailing to people who don’t even fit your target audience. If you’re mailing to people who aren’t interested in your brand, that’s a waste of time and money. It’s best to use a tailored, targeted mailing list of customers who fit the demographics you’re seeking to optimize your brand engagement.

Another tip for crafting a targeted direct mail mailing list is to take your best current customers and clone their key demographics to find new contacts. For example, if your company is a high-end kids clothing store, one of your best customers may be a middle-class, 30-something stay-at-home Mom living in a suburban setting. You’ll want to target those same demographics in your direct mail mailing list. It’s also key to make sure the current customers on your list are likely interested in the offer you’re sending out. Again -- if not, this is a waste of time and money.

Do the Dirty Work
Here are some other tactical things you should do to perfect your list:

  • Run through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database to increase your mailing’s deliverability. This will ensure that anyone on your direct mail mailing list who has moved will receive the mail at their new address, and will remove any addresses that are no longer valid.
  • Pass through the Data & Marketing Association’s ‘do not mail’ database. Sending mail to people who don’t want it will be a waste of resources and is likely to upset people.
  • Review the direct mail mailing list for duplicates and remove them. You definitely don’t want to be wasting money on sending mail to the same person twice. An easy way to do this is to sort alphabetically.
  • Determine whether to include “Or Current Resident” in your address area. Some people like to do this to protect against any one-off scenarios, such as if someone living in a residence has moved but not changed their address. On the other hand, it’s important to personalize your mail pieces, and omitting this is a way to do that.
  • Make sure the ‘NAME’ field is properly cased. Your mailing should be as personalized as possible. There’s nothing more embarrassing than messing up a merge on your entire mailing distribution.
  • Choose a default name for empty Name fields like guest, friend or current resident. This protects in situations in which people don’t list their names on their registered address.
  • Confirm proper formatting of contacts that use initials as first names like A.J. This ensures the residents’ first names will display correctly in the Name field.
  • Determine if using your contact’s company would be more engaging than their name. If you’re mailing to businesses, this may make more sense, depending on the size of the company and the role of the person there. 

Next, we’ll focus on the actual content of your mailing piece and how to determine a compelling call-to-action. In the meantime, get yourself a targeted mailing list if you don’t have one, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions!

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Topics: Direct Mail Marketing, Direct Mail Tips, Targeted Mailing Lists, EDDM