Targeted mailing lists make personalization—the lifeblood of any successful direct mail campaign—possible. Research has shown that campaigns with at least three personalized data points are vastly more successful than those with two or fewer. In fact, the increase in ROI (Return On Investment) can exceed 100%, according to the trade group Data & Marketing Association (formerly the Direct Marketing Association), or DMA.
Moreover, modern printing equipment—such as the HP T240—allow you to create highly personalized mail at scale. Whereas changing a picture or other creative was a labor-intensive, multi-step process even a few years ago, it’s now possible to change every part of a direct mail piece to appeal to a specific recipient.
To best take advantage of this technology and improve performance, detailed data is required. Data tells you who your recipient is, so you can tailor your message to them, speak to their needs and desires, and sell more of your product or service.
The challenge then becomes, what data is necessary to create an ideal targeted mailing list and improve campaign performance? Below are several helpful tips on how to find the perfect targeted mailing list.
Let Your Goals Guide Your Data Selections
Before deciding anything about your campaign—including what data to include in your email list—it’s important to set clear and distinct goals. It sounds simple, but is absolutely crucial, and many marketers can’t clearly articulate what they’re trying to do at the start of their campaigns.
Before you start, ask yourself who you’re trying to reach and what your goals are for the campaign. Be specific. Goals like “get more customers” or “increase revenue” aren’t detailed enough to help achieve a meaningful result.
Set the Right Kind of Goals
A proper strategy is specific about goals and the target audience. For example, a great goal could sound something like this: “I’d like to target new homeowners in their 30s who live near our local offices. I’m going to offer homeowners’ insurance with a goal of 1,000 new policies in the next month.” This goal is specific, measurable, and makes selecting a list simple.
To get 1,000 more policies opened, you could assume that 10 miles is close enough to your offices for recipients to feel comfortable driving to your location. Perhaps a previous campaign had a 1% conversion rate, so you know to get 100,000 emails. Then, add on data fields for age range, homeownership, name, and address, and you’ll know exactly what your targeted mailing list should look like.
If you don’t know your conversion rate, talk to an experienced printing partner—a shop like ours has worked with thousands of campaigns and can help you set realistic expectations. As a start, remember to create the most detailed profile of your ideal customer possible and use at least three points of personalization.
Go Beyond Demographics With Targeted Mailing Lists
Simple demographic information is the basis of many high-performing mailing lists, but ideal customer profiles often require more specific targeting. Many list brokers can provide specialized data through a mixture of public and proprietary sources to help you hone in on the perfect persona.
Here are six of the most popular list types:
Anyone who has moved and changed addresses in a defined time frame
People who signed up for their first mortgage recently (The definition of “recently” varies from broker to broker.)
Current Customer, or “House” List
Proprietary lists of your previous customers or clients
People who own a home, typically combined with another data point, like location
Lists of parents who had or are expecting their first child
Anyone renting an apartment or other dwelling
Using any of these list types can help you improve performance and add another layer of personalization. For example, if you’re promoting a kids' clothing line, you might send a direct mail piece with pictures of your clothing on children. If you also know the recipients are all new parents, you could make sure to include happy parents in the pictures.
Customization that goes beyond name and address makes for happy customers and increases response rates and ROI.
Shop Around for the Best Mailing List
When you’re clear on your goals and what you need from your mailing list, it’s time to find a list broker—and not all are created equal. Prices are often a big differentiator, as well as data accuracy, customer service, and track record.
We recommend shopping around and asking for quotes from several companies. While you’re talking to each one, ask them about their experience and data sources. See which companies are willing to talk to you and answer questions. Remember, this should be a long-term relationship as you continue to integrate direct mail into your regular marketing strategy. Finally, if you have an existing relationship with a printing partner, ask for a recommendation—most longstanding companies like Design Distributors have a few select brokers they work with regularly and trust.
Once you know your goals, have received your quotes, and decided on a list broker, you’re ready to print. If you have any questions or want to ensure your next direct mail campaign is a success, contact us. With more than 50 years of experience and the latest technologies at our disposal, we can help you improve response and ROI to create the best campaign possible.