You Can't Sell Without The Right List

As a matter of fact, direct mail marketers pay not enough attention to the mailing lists. The list is actually far more important than the letter itself. The list is the most important of all element of your email marketing campaign. A poorly written newsletter can work to a good list. On the contrary, a fantastic newsletter will never work to the wrong list. The list is not only a way to reach your market, but is your market itself.

Lists For Prospecting

You should focus your attention on the lists you can rent. There are more than 30,000 lists containing about one billion names available for rental. We are almost sure, that everybody receives a lot of mail every day from businesses, charities, political causes, and candidates. There is a simple explanation. Your email, and most likely your name and address are rented by list owners, list managers, and list brokers. Your personal data was sold or rented, because you probably bought something via the mail. If you’re on a mailing list, it’s almost impossible to get off. Your data was sold or rented to dozens of organizations and businesses. In order to get off the list you have to not buy anything via the Internet, not subscribe to any magazines not use your credit card, and not fill out any forms.

In the direct mail business you typically do not buy a mailing list. You rent a list for a one-time use. If you want to mail to the list again, you must rent it again. The name is now yours and you are free to continue to send letters to that person without renting that name again. But you are not permitted to continue to mail letters to those who do not respond to your prospect appeal unless you rent the list again.

What you want are buyers who have bought a lot of what you are selling—multi-buyers. And you want buyers who have bought something recently, within the last six or 12 months. You might need to pay more for these premium names, but it will almost always be worth it. I would much rather pay more for names that I know will be good than less for names that I’m unsure of. The more recent the purchase, the better the prospect.
This is an important point, worth underscoring, because it’s counterintuitive. You might think these would be the weakest prospects on the assumption that these buyers might be tapped out since they just bought. But these recent hotline frequent buyers are, by far, the most likely to answer your letter with an order.

Those who have not bought anything for a long time are weak prospects. Once you build a sizeable customer list, you’ll then have some clout to start negotiating name-exchange agreements with marketers who sell similar products, and this can help you save money on list rental fees. A name exchange is when you allow one marketer to mail to your list of buyers in exchange for that organization or business letting you mails its list of buyers.