All About Mailing Lists

OK. The title of this article may be a bit misleading. I probably should have titled it “some things about mailing lists.” I’m not actually going to cover everything about mailing lists.

There’s just too much to cover. Today I’ll will be covering the basics.

So, if you’re somewhat new to direct mail,you’ll appreciate the simplicity of this article.

So, are you ready?

What is a mailing list?

Fair enough. In simplest terms, these are names that should represent your target market. In other words, it’s who you are sending your sales pitch or offer to.

Types: Believe it or not, there’s different types of mailing lists that you could choose. And you should be very choosy. In fact, one of the most reliable places to start looking for your list is the SRDS Direct Mail List Source Book.

Pros in this biz hate to admit it, but it’s better to have a good list with “OK” writing skills and a poor product than it is to be top-shelf copywriter with a hot product, sent to the wrong list.

So, as you can see, this is very important.

Let’s look at the most common types.

Compiled. These lists of names are typically collected from various resources such as the phone books, public records, directories, court records, surveys, etc. These lists are usually the least productive.

Subscriber. As the name suggests, these lists are exactly what they say they are… subscribers to something like a magazine or newsletter. These lists can be great to send your offer to but not as powerful as actual “buyer” lists.

Buyer. These are made up of actual people who bought from the company. For example, Gurney’s Seed & Nursey Catalog buyers is a list of all the people who bought from their catalog. As you can see, these are some of the very best names you could mail to. But there’s another type which if handled correctly are the absolute most profitable list could mail to and this list is called…

House. This is your buyers list. And it is without a doubt the most profitable asset you could have. If you don’t have a house list, then you need to begin building one today!


Let me explain some mailing list lingo. This will help you when searching for a mailing list to rent.

For starters, when you get a mailing list you’re renting the list, not buying it. Typically, it’s rented for a one-time usage. Sometimes you work out other terms like unlimited usage.

A list broker can be compared to a real estate agent. He represents the buyer. On the other hand, a list manager (again think realtor), except he represents the seller.

Most good mail order companies make their names available for rent. It’s a great source of extra income and they do nothing more that turn the fresh names over each month to their list manager.

So, now you come along and want to rent the mailing lists and try and sell your stuff to their customers, or subscribers.

Data Cards are the listing for a list. In other words, it summarizes the details about the mailing list. There’s lots of details on a data card but I’ll highlight some things here. By the way, your list broker should be able to give you all the information you need. Just ask.

Last Updated. This is the date when the list added new names to the file. You’ll want to be sure that the list is updated often and that you have the most recent names available.

List Cost. This is rental charge for the list. The cost is per-thousand and can range from $100 per thousand to more than $200 per thousand. Keep in mind, the more targeted the list is, the higher the cost.

Unit of Sale is the average amount the individuals spent on the mailing lists. It’s best to get a list with a comparable unit of sale for your own stuff.

List Source. This tells you where the names came from. For example, names could be generated from the:


Direct mail or Direct mail sold



Print (space ads, magazines, newspapers, classified ads, etc.)

Compiled (from pubic records, warranty cards, etc.)

Attendees (from a conference or meeting)

Segments/Selections. This gives you options to select names based on a region, gender, or other demographics.

List Description is a summary of the individuals on the list.

Continuation/Usage List. This provides very valuable details to help you decide if you should rent the list or not. This shows you which other mailers have used the list. Oftentimes it’s broken into those who have tested the list and those who have continued the list.

So, if you see a mailer who has tested and continued a list that you’re considering, and their offer is like yours, then you have a good chance the list will work for you.

I covered a few aspects of mailing lists but just scratching the surface here. Call your list broker and ask questions. Ask for data cards and study them. I’m also available to help.

Until next time.

Yours for bigger profits.

Next Post

Keep Chickens in Cost Effective Chicken Accommodation by Building a Poultry House Easily at Home

By building a poultry house you really will be able to provide first class chicken accommodation very simply and easily. How you house hens is pretty important and so to be able to get it right with the minimum of fuss is invaluable and building them a poultry house yourself […]

You May Like