Targeted Mailing Lists have helped make direct mail marketing an increasingly popular advertising tool with a wide variety of applications. Direct marketing is also the only medium that allows companies to deliver their message to prospects most likely to purchase their product or service.

One of the first concerns when planning a direct marketing campaign is the mailing list. Newcomers often try to compile their own lists. While current and previous customer addresses are readily available, expanding a list to include a larger audience is often more difficult. An effective list will reach prospects who have already responded to a similar offer or who have comparable demographic characteristics.

You can mail to prospects by age, location, profession, spending habits; you can target households with children, credit cards, apartment dwellers and people who have recently moved. You can target businesses according to size, location, type of business and many other factors.

The use of computers to create and maintain large volumes of data has increased both the availability and quality of mailing lists. There are two basic types of compilations: business and consumer. Business lists are available by industry sector (agriculture, manufacturing, service companies, etc.) or by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code, four to six digit numbers that categorize every type of commercial establishment, institution and profession.

With Business-to-business target mailing lists, marketers can mail to companies based on their financial strength, number of employees, location, type of organization (corporation, partnership, etc.), yellow page ad space, and executive names by title, recent relocation and so on. Data for these lists is gathered from trade directories, professional membership rosters, phone books, seminar registrants, trade show exhibitors, credit records, etc. As an option, phone numbers can be supplied with these lists.

Consumer targeted mailing lists are also categorized by demographic and geographic information. The ability to segment by income, age, type of dwelling, occupation, number of children, hobbies and other interests offers a variety of direct mail applications. Consumer mailing lists are compiled using information from city directories or phone books, magazine subscriptions, surveys and many other sources. Also popular are direct mail response lists, the common factor being that people on these lists have already responded to other direct marketing offers.

While targeted mailing lists can be rented or purchased, most transactions are based on a one-time rental. Lists can be purchased under certain conditions; however, unless your list is maintained by a direct mail company, rapidly changing information makes it difficult to keep large lists current.

There are many alternatives to direct mail, but none so targeted. Now a fixture of the American marketplace, mail order became popular when Aaron Montgomery Ward recognized the opportunity to expand his marketplace by mailing a two-page flyer to prospective customers based on where they lived. (Mailing List Strategies, Rose Harper) A good mailing list may be the best information a marketer can have.


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