Q&A Friday: Selecting Mailing Lists

Mailing list selection can have a greater impact on the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign than any other factor. Getting this one thing right can make all the difference in the future of your business.

Silver member Scott is embarking on his direct mail campaign for the upcoming tax season, and trying to find his best mailing list. Specifically, Scott asks:

I went to InfoUSA last night. How many leads would you recommend to be a target amount? Based on the criteria you selected I got about 4,400 leads. Using only a 2% return that would be 88 tax returns which would be more than enough right now. Am I on the right track?

Scott is specifically selecting a mailing list for building his tax preparation business. Ideally, you want to select a targeted mailing list that matches your ideal client. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to have more than one type of ideal client. What matters is that you precisely define what your ideal client is.

For example, after a review of your most profitable clients, you discover that active real estate investors with at least one rental property located within a 30 mile radius are an ideal target audience for marketing your services. Thus, you’re going to want to select a mailing list that meets these parameters.

The total number of contacts on your mailing list is really limited only by your budget. The most important thing to remember about direct mail is that it is not a one-time event. You want to select a list size that you can afford to mail to multiple times. For example, in launching my Vancouver tax prep practice, I am mailing to the same list of high net worth individuals on at least a monthly basis for six straight months. This repetitive mailing, if done with the right kind of mailers, increases overall response rate to your offers. Some lists can convert at a double digit rate into paying customers, blowing the lid off the idea that a 2% response rate is all you can achieve from a list.

Specifically to Scott, I would reply that a list of 4,400 is perfect to mail to, as long as the entire list represents ideal prospective clients and he can afford to mail to the list multiple times over the coming months. In reality, it’s even better to mail to this ideal prospect list year round, in order to build solid relationships with prospects. Therefore, the list size should be as big as you can afford to mail to at least quarterly throughout the rest of the year as well, and slightly more frequently from October through March.

Do you have a question you’d like answered in Q&A Friday? Just send me an email with your question, and I’ll either answer it directly or include it in the newsletter.