Why is the mailing list number One on our article with the fundamental elements of the direct mail?

Here is an answer that makes some sense

4 out of 5 mistakes in Direct Mail, listed throughout numerous sources are directly connected to the mailing list. Even the best marketing idea is a complete waste of money and time if there are no results to follow.

In many of our previous articles, we emphasized the importance of the mailing list and the reason we gave it #1 position within the primary elements of the direct mail. Unfortunately, a lot of marketers are giving the mailing list a secondary attention.

The mailing list is crucial and can affect significantly the rest of the factors required for the execution of a successful direct mail campaign.

The most beautiful mailpiece with an offer no one could resist sent to the wrong person is simply a waste of money.

“Even if you give apples for Free, you are not going to get any response if the people you send your offer to likes pears!”

Do Not Start a Marketing Campaign without THE RIGHT Mailing List

What is THE RIGHT Mailing List? There is no exact formula; THE RIGHT Mailing list will vary for the different businesses. THE RIGHT Mailing list is the one that will work the best for your business and the particular goal of the campaign you are creating. How to compile your targetted mailing list and select a basic prospect list (link) was explained in our earlier articles.

In this chapter of our series “Direct Marketing Strategies,” I would like to go deeper into the various types of lists and the data services associated with them, which will give you a better idea of how to improve the data for your next direct mail campaign.

Mailing List Types

1. House List

The most valuable and precise list. These are your customers. They already made a purchase from you. Therefore, you have created a relationship and trust. Always, whenever fit, include your existing customers in your marketing efforts.

Keep your house list clean, up to date and add as much as possible information - besides the obvious name, address, and phone; try to collect demographic data, purchasing and behavioral history.

TIP: To make your House List perform as it best - clean and update it at least twice a year. Use DataPro or similar services, they will make your life easier and help you maximize the response rates of your direct marketing campaign.

2. Prospect List 

A compiled comprehensive lists. These records are created by collecting data from sources like phone books, census data, credit bureaus, government data and other general references. The prospect lists are divided into two major groups: B2C or consumer, and B2B or business lists.

Consumer Compiled Lists (B2C) - typically contain the First and Last name of the prospect as well as his/hers full address. When choosing a consumer compiled list, various demographics can be used for selection - age, income, occupation, presence of children or elderly, home value, religion, ethnicity, etc. Some of the demographic selections are standard and usually are built into the price schedule while another may generate additional fees.

Business Compiled Lists (B2B) - very similar to the Consumer Compiled Lists. Business records always include the name of the company and the address and are mainly selected by their SIC code (Standard Industrial Classification code). Data such contact name and title; and phone number are available for an extra fee but worth the money spent. Also available, usually for an additional fee are sales volume, the size of the business, the number of employees, etc.

Even though the Occupant Lists are a category on its own, for the purpose of the qualification of the lists, we can consider them as part of the prospect lists category.

The occupant lists include all physical addresses (residential and/ or business) exactly as they appear in the USPS® database.

With the technology and data services progress, the occupant lists are not what they use to be - only an address with “Current Resident / Occupant” line on the top. The smart marketers are using the latest option - for less than a penny to include the names where possible. Availability in most cases ranges between 70-85% of the total records. The conclusion, you will execute a personalized campaign at the cost of a saturation one. Ask our experts “How?”.


1. Large counts and extensive geographical coverage

2. Easy accessible

3. Relatively low price - 3¢ to 6¢ per record

4. More options to buy vs rent if comparing with Response lists

5. Discounts possible for volume orders


A lot less targetted than the Response lists



Dun & Bradstreet



US Presort

3. Response List 

Or also called “managed” list - comprised of people who have an interest in particular product or service. They either already have made a purchase or had inquired about one.

These lists usually consist of magazine subscribers, like “Golf Digest” or wine lovers magazine; members of certain organizations, like AIA; show attendees; fundraiser donors; people that already made a mail-to-order purchase from a particular vendor; electronic purchase registration, etc.

Mistake to Avoid: When it comes to a choice of a list, and the best for your business is the Response list, a lot of marketers fall into the trap of a sticker price shock. Before you reject a proposition for a good Response list because of the cost, do the math! A lot of times the higher priced but highly targetted mailing list will yield a lot higher ROI (return on investment).


Highly targetted

Response rates much higher than the standard response when prospect list used


High cost as low as 9-10 ¢ a record

In most cases, requires approval of the mailing piece

Not as readily available as the compiled lists

Low counts

How to achieve the Response list result with a prospect list

!!! Make a list with your best customers (at least 500 records, 1000 is better) and send the file for a Data Model™ Profile. The report will return the demographic and behavioral attributes for your best customers; then use the data to rent or purchase a prospect list using those attributes !!!!

Pointers for selecting your “best” customer

1. Geography - where are they located? Zip, city, state or nationwide

2. Basic Demographics - Age, social and personal status, education, occupation, income level, etc.

3. Lifestyle - do they like wine, golfing, sports, or art

4. If your customers are businesses - what industry they are in - hospitality, education, finances, etc.

5. Which product or service they already purchased from you.

6. Sales volume vs. frequency. Make an assessment whether the total amount or the number of repeat orders is more important for your business.

After the list is selected

Choose the right direct mail and data quality provider.

Use list broker, don’t be afraid of overpaying. The list brokers can pass on discount that would not be accessible for you. They have more experience, sources, and insight!

Creating the Perfect Prospect List in 5 Easy Steps [infographic]

Perfect Prospect Mailing List

Do Not Start a #Marketing Campaign without THE RIGHT #MailingList
Milena Marguenski
Milena is the owner and CEO of US Presort.
US Presort | 3801 Victory Blvd., Suite 1 - Staten Island, NY 10314 | P : 718.980.6556