Buying a mailing list is often a confusing and cumbersome experience. There are many list brokers out there and it’s hard to find one that you can trust. Are they a genuine company or just some guy in his garage selling the same names and addresses over and over again? Do they offer fresh and productive lists or will they blow dust off of an old CD-ROM and copy/paste 5-year-old data for you? Mailing list cost is a fairly large investment and a good portion of your overall marketing budget but it is only a fraction of what you’ll spend on printing and postage when you use the list. This leads to the other decision – do I spend more per record on a mailing list that is said to outperform other mailing lists, or do I get a cheaper mailing list and just hope to get good results? If you have gone through this thought process, you’re not alone.

In my experience, there is an art to buying mailing lists. First, you have to do your homework. Call around to different mailing list companies. Talk to the so-called “list experts” and see what kind of knowledge they really have. After all, it is better to collaborate with a mailing list expert as opposed to just buying what you think will work. List brokers deal with mailing lists all day long and they see what works and what doesn’t for their other clients. An experienced list broker is very likely to have already had experience with the mailing list that you’re interested in and they should have suggestions or ideas on how to improve your results. Don’t purchase a list blindly – considering the high cost of postage and printing/mailing services, you want your mail pieces to be delivered – and to the right target audience.

Price is a tricky aspect of your mailing list buying experience. If the data is priced too low, there is probably a reason for it. In our business we have a saying, ”never use the cheapest doctor, wear the cheapest shoes, or mail the cheapest list.” You should be deeply cautious of cheap mailing lists. It takes lots of money to compile data, maintain data, and to keep it clean, current and accurate. You’ll also want to deal with a company who has compiled their own data or have genuinely licensed the data you are purchasing so you know it’s real and fresh. Generally, list brokers who quote a higher price have some room to negotiate on that price; especially if the quantity you need is flexible.

Based on all of that, I suggest trying to negotiate with those offering medium to higher quotes and run away as fast as you can from those with the cheapest quotes. It sounds impractical but experience proves that this is the only way to go. Most people would rather get a list that makes them a lot of money rather than get a list that was cheap but didn’t work. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on mailing campaigns where I’ve used cheap data and I don’t want you to go through the same frustrating, time wasting, and expensive process.

When you find a mailing list broker that you feel comfortable with, check out the company’s BBB rating and see if they have any testimonials on their website. You can usually tell if the testimonials are real or not – they will sound like they are written by different people, a name and a company name will be listed next to each one, and the level of detail should vary (some clients are quick and to the point, and others are more wordy). Then, it is important to test the data. Buy a small order of 10,000 records (no less!) and send out your mail piece to see what kind of response you get. It’s important to send out enough mail pieces with each drop so that you meet what the industry calls “critical mass”. One definition of critical mass is “the minimum amount (of something) required to start or maintain a venture”. Sending out any less than 10,000 mail pieces at a time is a waste of time and your money would be better spent elsewhere if you can’t afford a 10,000-piece direct mail campaign.

If you have the marketing budget, test 10,000 pieces from a few different mailing list companies and compare their results. Going through this testing phase once will help your marketing campaigns for many years to come because finding a reliable, effective mailing list company is one of the most important parts of your marketing efforts.

Moving forward, you should always work with your mailing list expert to see what other lists could work for your company. You may not know what other “selects” on your list are out there and you never know until you ask. For example, there are 200 + different bits of information on each consumer in the US. Your mailing list can get extremely targeted, if you want it to. There are also over 25,000 extremely specific specialty lists available that only an expert would even know about. Finding the right mailing list company is the first step. Finding the best list could be a life-long process. Just keep stay focused on the ROI you are looking for and make sure you are meeting or exceeding those goals with each mailing list campaign.

Trust US Data Corporation for your mailing lists. Call 888-610-3282 or Click Here to submit a form for a free, no obligation quote!