Archive for January, 2021

Direct Mailing List Tips Self Publishers & Business Owners Must Know

January 16th, 2021

Many self publishers, book publishers, entrepreneurs, and home-based and small business owners are in the dark about mailing list rentals — how to order targeted, direct mailing lists – say for a direct marketing campaign, what to look for, and what to beware of. And they often make a few expensive mistakes. The following tips and trade secrets will help you avoid some of these mistakes and help you make better decisions when you seek out quality mailing list services.

First of all, generally, you rent, not buy mailing lists. They remain in the ownership of the mailing list company and are usually not for sale.

Many business owners rent lists but don’t use them right away, which is a mistake. Most lists change considerably in 30 days or less. Some lists, like mailing lists of public libraries, prisons, hospitals, hospital gift shops, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, daily newspapers, TV stations and radio stations will have very few changes. They are fairly stationary so not as likely to move. Bookstore lists, new age bookstores lists, organization lists, specialty lists, MLM lists and business mailing lists may have a high rate of return. To avoid a lot of returns, rent the selected lists just prior to making your mailing.

Be careful about renting any mailing list that goes to individuals: consumer mailing lists, seniors mailing lists, residential mailing lists, homeowners mailing lists and opportunity seekers mailing lists, for example. With 20% of the population moving every year you may get significant returns.

But do expect some returns. As often as we mail using lists, we always get returns (called ‘nixies’ in the trade) from the post office. People move, forwarding orders expire, people expire, post office boxes close, and businesses close their doors.

Mailing list management and upkeep is expensive. It takes a lot of time and labor for companies to compile, add to, clean and mail to their lists and other necessary maintenance. They also use expensive mailing list software programs which can have costly bugs of their own.

To help you plan ahead, before you order your mailing lists, ask when you can expect the order to arrive. This can vary considerably from company to company. Some companies can take up to two weeks or more.

Mailing lists can usually be ordered in at least three formats – peel and stick (pressure-sensitive) labels or Cheshire (18 pound, spreadsheet-size computer paper–less common these days) or on a floppy disk (used less often these days) or CD. You order peel and stick labels if they’re going to be affixed to your mailing piece by hand. Or if you know how to import the lists you can order them on CD. If your mailing house is going to do your mailing they’ll probably prefer the floppy disk or CD – check with them on this before you order.

Mailing houses used to require the Cheshire format instead of peel and stick labels before the advent of computer technology and CD ROM. They have machines that cut the printed Cheshire sheets into labels and glue them to the envelopes. When ordering lists on CD, specify the format you want to use for conversion, usually ASCII comma-delimited. You must know how to import it when you get the disk though. The mailing lists will always be for one-time use only even if they’re on a CD or disk. And some mailing list companies offer instant downloads of lists.

Also if a mailing house is going to do your mailing, they may want the labels to be merged if there is more than one list, or bar-coded, which will save considerably on postage. If you can’t answer their technical questions, have your mailing house call your mailing list rental company to work out the final details.

Consider the cost to mail out your mailing piece. You might want to test a small number on the list first if you have an expensive or heavy package.

When you do mailings First Class, you’ll get returns from the post office at no additional charge. If you mail Third Class (bulk mail), you won’t get returns. They will be tossed out at the post office, UNLESS you’ve printed ‘Return Service Requested’ on the envelope. Then each return (nixie) will cost additional postage (based on first class), or ‘Change Service Requested’ (cost based on piece regardless of weight.) Make sure to check current costs with the post office because they change their rates AND rules periodically.

Always send any nixies back to your mailing list company, even if there aren’t enough for a credit, which is almost always offered. This is a good practice especially if you plan to mail again to the same list soon. They usually have a time limit as to when they can accept the nixies for credit because the lists you rented will become outdated fairly soon.

When you contract to rent a list, some mailing list companies may require a sample mailing piece. This is so the company can determine if you’re mailing a competitive or objectionable piece.

The business of mailing list rentals is based on the honor system to a degree, but this honor system also has a built-in alarm: owners protect their data by planting decoy names (seeds) in the mailing lists they rent. If a renter contracts to use a list on a one-time basis and uses it a second time, the decoy will receive the unauthorized mailing and report the misuse to the list owner. The decoys are often friends or relatives of the staff of the companies. Also, many mailing list companies employ companies that specialize in tracking or monitoring mailings to detect any misuse. Since decoys are different for each list order, the renter who abuses a contract is easy to trace.

Mailing lists are protected by copyright and trade secret law. Any violation of a list agreement is strictly upheld by the courts. Once a list rental contract has been broken, the list owner has legal recourse to sue for compensatory and punitive damages. Punitive damages could amount to as much as three times the value of the list and more.

All list owners have good reason to be so protective of their data. List rental is a multibillion-dollar business. There are literally thousands of lists available for rental in the United States alone.

If all else fails, you can enlist the help of a mail list broker. Brokers usually collect their fees from the mailing list company. Check this out first.

In any case caveat emptor! In any case you can reap rewards handsomely from sending out fliers, press releases, press kits, review copies of books and other materials via the direct mailing lists you choose.

These tips and trade secrets should help self publishers, book publishers, entrepreneurs, home based or work-at-home and small business owners make better decisions when working with mailing lists, mailing list rentals and mailing list companies.

Mailing Lists – The Two Kinds of Lists and Two of the Best Places to Purchase Them

January 16th, 2021

In this, the first of this two-part article set, you’ll learn from our discussion the types of mailing lists, and two of the best places to buy lists. In the second part you’ll learn the other 9 places to buy a mailing list.

There are two types of direct mail lists, determined by their origin: compiled direct mail lists and response mailing lists.

Compiled Direct Mail Lists

Compiled mailing lists are a common source of name and address records that have been gathered, collected, and entered into a database. The names may have been acquired through public records such as vehicle owner registrations, court transcripts, or private sources such as warranty cards or purchasers at a store.

The bulk of compiled mailing lists are generated from categories in phone books across the U.S. Examples of a few of the compiled lists available from phone books would be a list of all the photography studios, or a listing of all the luggage dealers in the United States. Or a mailing list of all the plumbing supply dealers, or Chevy or Ford agencies.

Most industries have trade directories that are usually compiled industry data from various sources; most are verified by phone and make pretty good direct mail lists. A directory of pet product manufacturers, or of heating and cooling contractors would be good examples of a compiled industry direct mail lists.

Keep in mind that compiled information – like fish – gets old rather quickly and doesn’t age particularly well. Mailings lists fall into the top of that category – the fresher the names, the better. The older the names, the less accurate – and the greater your returns.

Response Direct Mail lists

Response direct mail lists are usually databases of consumers who have inquired or purchased from a direct response ad, direct mail catalog, from a direct mail offer, direct-selling TV ad, direct response newspaper ad, or other direct response offer. The most common response direct mail lists are from catalog merchants.

Before you consider purchasing any direct mail list, analyze the database of your own customers. Ask yourself precisely what commonalities they have, then look for these characteristics in a new list mailing database.

Start searching for a new mailing list based on your perfect target audience. Find a list that closely matches the definable characteristics of your own customers. If this exact mailing list isn’t available, see how close you can come to buying the most perfect business mail list – and test mail to it in smaller numbers. Measure and track response.

Today’s direct mail can be very precisely targeted due to the precision of the mailing list data available. If you can tightly specify a mailing list, you can probably find a list perfectly matched to your specifications. The more you qualify the names on your mail list, the tighter you specify your perfect mailing list segments, the more response, and the less wasted advertising expense you’ll have in your direct mail campaign. The higher your response, the better your chances of success and profit.

Your selection of a direct mail list has more to do with your success or failure than any other single element in your mailing. Before any mailing, calculate what percent response you need to have to break even, and see if it’s realistic. If it’s over 2%, better rethink about mailing.

The precise targeting of mailing makes direct mail one of the most effective, cost efficient ways to market as long as you define your audience up front and match your direct mail list to your audience.

Delivery of your direct mail depends on the accuracy and recency of your list. Better quality, more recent mailing lists have much better delivery rates. A poor list can mean up to 20% or 30% of your standard mail (bulk-rate) won’t be delivered. 10% more will be delivered, but you won’t know to whom. Of that 20% to 30%, some of your direct mail pieces will be returned to you, beat up beyond recognition by the postal service and certainly of no further value.

Some pieces get delivered, but to the wrong address. Other pieces of your mail just get lost, and no one really knows where they went. In contrast, when you purchase a recent, accurate direct mail list, delivery can be as high as a whopping 95% – 97%!

Some of the best delivery percentages of direct mail mailing lists can be found in magazine publisher’s list of their magazine subscribers.

Magazine mailing lists have some of the highest delivery rates available. For good reason: Subscriber lists are naturally very targeted to their annually-qualified magazine readers. Publishers pay for returns: so their mailing lists have high deliverability rates as publishers are extremely prompt with their name and address corrections.

Most magazine publishers will rent their mailing list for non-competing offers (such as anything other than similar magazines). If you see a magazine that looks like it will be a good target for your direct mail campaign, call the magazine publisher and ask if their subscriber mailing list is for rent. Most larger publications will offer their list through a mailing list broker, so you’ll be referred to that firm.

1. Magazine Publishers Mailing Lists

There are over 10,000 magazines published in the U.S.. Chances are good that you can get a magazine subscription subscriber mail list that goes straight to your perfectly targeted buyers. If you’re not sure what magazines would have the best mail list to reach your target market, there are some easy-to-use magazine directories found in the reference section of most libraries. (They’re online, too – but they’re subscription-only and pretty expensive!) You can read the magazine’s profile and see if their audience would make a good mail list for you to mail offers for your products.

The best directories of magazines are Bacon’s Directory of Magazines, and Oxbridge Communications Standard Periodical Directory. If you can’t find the exact targeted magazine filled with the eager-to-buy-your-product subscribers you are looking for in either of these directories, the publication doesn’t exist. You can find any industry and every single magazine that is sent to that industry – in under 10 minutes in these powerful directories. As a practicing marketer, I pretty much live in these directories.

2. Catalog Merchants Direct Marketing Mailing Lists

Catalog houses earn a good portion of their revenue from the sale of their list. Call the catalog house phone number and ask for their corporate business office, then ask who handles their mailing list sales. Almost all catalog houses sell their mail lists – it’s a big profit center than can account for as much as 20% of their revenues.

Catalogs can be found in The Directory of Mail Order Catalogs from Grey House Publishing ( This directory is an awesome publication and the best resource in the catalog industry. In each catalog description and write up, it gives the number of catalogs mailed, and name of the broker who handles list sales.

This is the first of two articles on mailing lists. In the second part of this article, we’ll discuss the next 9 places to buy a direct mail list.

Bio, Jeffrey Dobkin
If you’re struggling with poor response from your direct marketing campaign, you can solve this problem and get guaranteed help; gain an advantage fast – and get amazing results by reading practical how-to marketing ti