The Most Important Part of your Mailing (Part 1 of 3)

A direct mailing is made of up three basic parts: the design, the offer, and the most important part – the list.

It’s true, the list you choose to mail your postcards to is the key element of getting the best response. This is because the wrong list can take your response rate down to 0%.

For example, you could have a great offer for a $2 Million commercial property, which you have listed for only $1 Million – you could have designed the card with all 10 elements required for an effective postcard – and it could be a great time to make the offer – but the list that you chose was homeowners, age 18-55, with annual household income of $50,000. Absolutely no one on your list would be qualified to take advantage of your offer, no matter how great it is. (It is true that if you send a lousy design with no offer to the perfect list, you could end up with squat, too, so I may be remiss in calling it the most important part of your mailing – I waffle on this!!)

If you have a gym that caters to serious, heavy lifters and you mail to senior citizens, again, your offer and your design won’t mean a thing.

In order to help you when it comes to lists, I’ve put together this article, in 3 parts, to show you exactly how to make the smart choices. This week we’ll look at mailing to your in-house list. The people most likely to respond to an offer are people who have either purchased from you or inquired about your services in the past. It may sound simplistic, but getting more sales out of your database is the best place to start.

Keeping a well-maintained database is going to be the best way for you to make sure you have this avenue available.

First, make sure that you are getting ALL contact information from your customers, including mailing address, phone, and email. In addition, get as much information as you can from any prospects you talk to. Collecting all the contact information that you can allows you the best opportunity to contact them in the future.

Next, keep every contact you ever make in your database. NEVER delete them, even if you think they are never going to buy. Make sure each record has either the date they contacted you or the date they last made a purchase.You never know how long it’s going to take for a prospect to actually pull the trigger, so you need to keep mailing to them on a regular basis. As time goes on, you can spread out the time between mailings for your older contacts, but you never want to cut them out completely.

Finally, keep track of what each customer bought and how much they spent. This is very important because it can help you put together the right offer to be mailed to the right contacts.

These steps take some effort to implement, but will help you to keep your database in the best shape for mining even more money out of it in the future.

Next week, we’ll take a look at how to use the data you collect to purchase the best new lists for a lead generation mailing.


April 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm 2 comments

Specialized mailing lists make all the difference

If there is one thing I can’t say enough it is that the most important part of your mailing campaign is your mailing list. It is vital that you put the right amount of energy into learning about lists – who to mail to – so that your mailing efforts aren’t wasted. There are a few different ways that you can get an adequately targeted list.

As always the first step is to determine who your target market will be. Should you market to consumers or businesses? For this example consider that your product is a set of home woodworking tools. This should be marketed to consumers because it is not an industrial grade product. Good, now we have narrowed it down to only 291,324,219 people in the US. As a minimum, your mailing campaign should send to the same names three times. So all you have to do is send out 873,972,657 postcards at $0.185 per piece & you get the point. We need to narrow it down some more.

So how do you accomplish the narrowing of your list? Many factors can be considered, including age, gender, zip code, annual salary, profession and number of children are some of the more common qualifiers. It may take a while to figure out what combination works for your specific product. Don’t worry about political correctness when considering whom you should mail to. It is perfectly acceptable to test certain lists that may be considered “stereotypical”. Many times these lists will work well. But you never know until you test them.

A special eye cream would go to women over 40, right? You need not worry that you’re targeting “older women” or that 40 is no longer considered old. No matter how great an idea you have about a certain market, ALWAYS DO A SMALLER TEST MAILING FIRST! Average test mailings run around 1000-1500 names. Once you see acceptable returns on the smaller mailing then you can jump in with the larger numbers. You may think 40+ is a good age to start with the eye cream, but you may get better results purchasing age 50+. Test test test!

Sometimes, like with our home woodworking tools, you have a product or service that you are not comfortable that you can adequately narrow your list by the normal qualifiers. You can make certain assumptions about people who are woodworking hobbyists: Mostly Male, Probably Homeowners, but what else do you really know? At this point you may want to consider using a privately “managed” list. These lists are going to cost more per name but will give you a much better way of pinpointing possible customers. For example you could order the subscriber list for Fine Woodworking Magazine. The cost per name would be $0.095 per name compared to the normal average cost of $0.05 per name. These names are nearly double the cost, however you are guaranteed that all of the names you get are for people interested in woodworking and therefore are much more likely to be interested in your product. With the “women over 40” example – some may be wrinkly and some may look quite young and aren’t even thinking of eye cream yet.

Managed Lists are not appropriate for all situations, but can be a major help when a very specific target is needed. Don’t fret over the extra cost, the more targeted names will undoubtedly show greater overall returns in the end.

The purpose of special mailing lists is to target a specific type of customer for your specific type of business. The eventual end result is more customers and a better bottom line. And this is what we all want, right?

April 7, 2010 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Effective List Management Can Save You Big: Marketing smarter can lead to greater profits

Let’s talk about how to keep your postage costs down.

So far you have been following our advice and mailing to the same list more
than once. At some point you find lists that will produce returns continually, but you notice that you are receiving more returns than when you started mailing to those lists.

You may see things like “Undeliverable as Addressed” or “Forwarding Order Expired.” Every time you mail to an address and that prospect has moved or cannot be found for any reason, you have just paid for the postage with no possibility of getting a response.

Obviously it is a pretty big waste of money to continue to mail to this address, but what do you do about it? You could simply go into the list of names that you have purchased and delete the returns. No more bad addresses, no more wasted postage, right? That is one option but there is a better way to handle the situation.

The US Postal Service has an NCOA (National Change of Address) System that a limited number of companies are licensed to access. These companies are able to take the list that you have purchased, or compiled yourself, and check it against the USPS system. You will receive a report that will let you know if anyone on your list has moved, gone out of business, or even if the zip code that contact was in was changed by the Post Office itself. Along with the report you will receive a new copy of your list that has been cleaned and updated.

The cost for having your list checked is very economical (about $5.00 per thousand records) and will allow you to keep getting your message out to as many people in your list as possible.

At times you can see up to a 10% undeliverable rate, and it can even be higher on older lists that you have been using for a while. Average is more like 5% undeliverable so let’s take a look at the numbers at that rate.

If you mail 10,000 and get 5% back for bad addresses: 10,000 x .05 = 500 pieces.

You will have paid postage on 500 pieces that did not reach their destination.

So if you mail to your list again without cleaning it you have just wasted: 500 x $0.28 (for 4.25×6″ postcards) = $140.00. (Note: The rate is even higher for larger postcards)

If you were to NCOA that list at a rate of $5.00 per thousand you would have spent: 10 x $5.00 = $50.00.

So you have three choices when faced with a list that needs cleaning:

1. Spend hours deleting every return that you receive from your list.

2. Waste $140.00 or more in postage every time you mail to that list.


3. Have the list checked by an NCOA service and get back in touch with customers that may have moved, for around one third the cost.

The NCOA service is the easiest and most effective way to keep your postage costs down.

April 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Win Big Discounts on Mailing Services

Did you ever wonder how bulk mailing works? I get this question asked so many times. What’s the minimum I can mail? What is the cheapest way to mail? How does it all work? Take the Marketing Quiz # 1 and save up to 25% on Mailing Services. Click on the link below, save money and learn some interest facts all while having some fun!

October 20, 2009 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Why do I have to fill out so many forms?

We know that it may seem like there are a lot of forms, but each form serves its own purpose and tells us how many cards you want to print, how you want your card designed, what list and quantity to mail to, etc. These forms benefit you as they allow us to know exactly what you want for your campaign.

August 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

Can a Standard Class mailing really take that long?

The normal delivery time for a Standard (3rd class) mailing is up to 2 weeks, but we’ve seen these mailings take longer. There are many things that may affect a Standard Class mailing. During the holidays, the USPS delivers billions of pieces. The USPS treats First Class mail as a priority and handles all of the Standard mail after the First Class mail is handled. The postage rates are considerably lower to mail Standard (except in the case of the 4.25 x 6 card as stated above) and this is why it’s not treated as a high priority. Mailing Standard makes sense when there is no particular timeline for when your mail piece should arrive.

August 7, 2009 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

What is involved in doing a drop shipment?

As stated in an earlier blog, drop shipments are not for everyone. It really needs to make sense for a drop shipment to be cost effective. When we do a drop shipment, we process and address the mailing as we normally do, except after it’s verified at the post office, we bring it back to our facility. We have a relationship with a freight service that only handles drop shipments. We prepare the mailing for them and then arrange for them to transport it to the appropriate post office.

July 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

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