Choosing the right mailing lists for your direct mail offer is the single most important factor in a successful campaign. Not only is it critical that you identify and target your “best bet” customers, but you need to ensure that the contact information you get is accurate and timely. Otherwise you will waste a lot of expensive packages on undeliverable addresses, raising your costs and reducing your sales.
So it follows then that choosing the right mailing list broker is crucial. But with so many list brokers advertising on the Internet today, how do you know which one is the best fit for you? It all comes down to three things: experience, reputation, and service.
Simply put, experience counts. There are over 50,000 mailing lists available in the U.S., though not all are useful. Experienced mailing list brokers get to know which lists have been proven successes, and which ones to avoid. Generally speaking, they are also the first to know about new mailing lists on the market that may give your campaign the extra edge you are looking for. It is also a good idea to confirm that the company has worked in your industry, and therefore knows where to find quality “niche” lists that can really boost your response rate.
Like experience, reputation is very important. First and most obvious, you want to find a mailing list broker that will work well with you, and who secures quality mailing lists that will work best the client. Not-so-reputable companies select lists that offer them the best commissions, looking for the one-time score at the expense of your campaign rather than build a long-term relationship. (On the subject of commissions, all list brokers are paid directly from the list owners and reputable brokers never charge their clients extra brokerage fees. If you see any sort of fee-based system, run away!)
But reputation also helps you access resources and mailing lists that others do not. In fact some list owners do not rent their lists directly to marketers, choosing only to do business through reputable brokers. Larger brokerage houses may also qualify for better-than-advertised prices due to their yearly volume, and pass that savings on to you. Find out about a company’s reputation by asking about their industry memberships and contact those organizations. A brokerage without any industry affiliations is not a good sign.
The “best of the best” mailing list brokers help you improve your campaign through many extra services such as list research (very important), merge purge, CASS certification, list management, even campaign reviews and design services. Some of these services, particularly list management and creative design, may have fees attached – just make sure you know how much you are paying and what you are getting for those fees.
The best way to find out if your potential mailing list broker meets these three standards is to ask questions. Find out about their industry membership affiliations. Ask about the success rates of any lists they recommend. And of course, ask for – and follow up on – references. If the broker scores high on all three points, you know you have found a winner.