How important is your mailing list? It is responsible for 40% of the success of your mailing. If you have lots of bad addresses, your direct mail goes nowhere. Unfortunately, the list generally gets the least amount of attention before a mailing. If you're using your own customer list, be sure you have 'scrubbed' your list and eliminated any bad addresses - or updated any addresses that have changed due to customers moving, etc. Need help? There is a National Change of Address (NCOA) database any good printer or mail house can use to check your list for address changes. People are added to this list when they fill out those 'change of address' forms at the post office. The format of your address matters too - wrong punctuation, wrong spacing, and your mail goes into a dumpster. Again, any printer or mail house worth the money has software that checks address formats you have in your list to make sure they are valid. These services cost you a little money, but they are definitely worth it. Cleaning up your list costs less than printing a bunch of direct mail and throwing it in the garbage because it can't even be mailed. If you are renting a list for your mailing, make sure that the source is a good source that will provide good, 'clean' addresses that will get to the intended audience. Make sure that your list source is constantly updating their lists with address changes and eliminating bad, undeliverable addresses. Ask them when the last time their list was updated. If it was more than a month ago, you might want to dig a little deeper. Most reputable list sources are constantly updating their lists and records. They too know how important good, clean lists are to the overall success of the mailing.
Building a Quality Mailing List
If you are just getting started on marketing your business with direct mail and email marketing, building a quality list should be your top priority. It doesn't do any good to have useful content or valuable offers if you don't have any way to promote them or anyone to promote them to.
Assembling Your List
When it comes to building an email or direct mail list, it's important to put quality ahead of quantity. The first step is to take a look at your existing customers. Do you have physical addresses for them? How about email addresses? Maybe your customer contact information lives in an existing 'rolodex' like Outlook, ACT, Goldmine, Salesforce.com, or in a drawer in the form of business cards with a rubber band around them. Whatever the case, you have a list in the making.
Segmenting Your List
Next, take a look at your list and see if there are any logical segments. In what ways can you slice and dice your list to send your customers more relevant content through email or direct mail? These segments could include gender, past purchase history, industry, order frequency, etc. If you are able to segment your list up front it may help you target your customers with specific content, making your communications more meaningful and driving greater sales.
Growing Your List
Lastly, just because you have a list of current customers doesn't mean you're done. You should strive to continually grow your list. Evaluate every customer touch point whether in person or online and put in place a plan to offer your customers the opportunity to join your list at each touch. For example, your website should include an online "Join My Mailing List" button. Give your prospect an opportunity to provide their physical mailing address by offering a free catalog or sample kit. Research has shown that 60% of your customers will provide their contact information to you if you ask. If you aren't asking, you are letting a valuable asset walk right out the door.