Using Mailing Lists To Reach Your Customers

Mailing lists are marketing tools used by businesses to contact their customers, both current as well as potential. They can be sent through regular postal mail, or by email. If your business has a web site, you can have a link for potential customers to sign up to receive your mailings. And of course you will already be including your regular customers on your mailing list. These are two ways to develop a mailing list to let your customers know what's going on with your company, new products, sales, etc. These methods can be somewhat limiting, as they are only reaching your current customers. Are you aware that there is another way to develop a mailing list for potential customers? Mailing list companies, or brokers, compile lists of company or individual names and addresses, and rent or sell them to other companies for use as a marketing tool. This article focuses on these mailing list companies, how they work, and other information to consider if you are thinking of using such a company to expand your customer database.

Overview of a Mailing List Company

Mailing lists are essential to the growth and development of any company. Mailing list companies, often called brokers, develop and maintain databases of business and consumers that may become your customer. Their lists should be based on both business and consumer lists. Business lists are strictly for businesses, while consumer lists target individual customers. A good mailing list company will be able to help you find the best list for your company by working with you and the customers you want to reach. They should be able to help you identify your target customers and tailor a mailing list for your company based on this information. A good mailing list company should be able to find or create a list based on your company's needs. Before you begin to look for a mailing list company, you should already have your marketing plan in place. You should know something about the potential customers you are trying to reach before you contact the company. In turn, they should be able to quickly develop a list that will work best for you.

Look for a mailing list company who has experience with the same type of customers you hope to reach. They should already have the knowledge and experience to serve you more efficiently.

Don't expect them to develop design or marketing plans for you. Most can point you to other companies if you need this type of help, although some are also equipped to do this. Expect to pay more for this service, of course.

Reliable companies should not be out for a quick profit. They should be willing to work with you to develop the list you need, not provide you with something that may not be suitable to your company's needs, etc.

Ask about customer service and satisfaction. Don't be afraid to ask them for references, and they should not hesitate to provide you with this information. Mailing list companies should be willing to stand behind their service, and if there are problems, be willing and able to work them out or give you at the very least a partial refund.

Money Matters

Before you contact a mailing list company, you need a budget for the complete mailing, including design, postage and mailing. For an average 5,000 name mailing lists, your total costs will probably run between $2,000-$5,000. Email list campaigns are cheaper ($500-$2,000), but usually return fewer responses.

Mailing list pricing is usually based on a cost per thousand impressions, or "CPM." A typical order is a mailing list of 5,000 - 10,000 names, Consumer (individual) lists typically cost around 10 cents per name; business lists run aroung 16-30 cents per name. Many companies have a minimum charge of $500, regardless of how many names are on your list.

Success Rate, Where to Look, and Other Facts

Direct mail (postal) success rates usually generate a little higher success rate than email. For example, for a direct mail list of 5,000, getting 50-150 responses (1% - 3%) would be considered a good rate. Email list mailing of the same number would generate on average .25%, while a 1% return would be considered highly successful. Direct mailings have a better chance of being read, compared to email mailings. With so much spam email out there, emails may not even make it to your intended recipients' inbox. At least your direct mailing will make it in the door.

As we researched this article, several sites stood out as good sources if you are considering generating business through mailing lists.

BuyerZone was tops with information on how mailing lists work, pricing, selecting, tips, and listings.
Century List Services has a web site, and toll free phone numbers where you can talk with a customer service representative who should be able to answer your mailing list questions. offers online or telephone help and many options to develop your mailing lists and sales leads.

Before contacting a mailing list company, do your other homework first. Have your marketing plan and budget in place; know the types of customers you want to reach; be realistic in figuring your returns; and be flexible if you have narrowed your potential customer base down too much. Go with a mailing list company who can meet your needs, and don't be afraid to ask for references. A good mailing list company can be a big help in your mail campaign for new customers.

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