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A direct mail marketing campaign is an excellent way to promote your business. But, if you either don't possess a quality contact list or you want to grab the attention of new customers, it makes sense to buy a mailing list. Due to significant variations between direct mail lists and mailing list services, however, it's vital that you understand how to find the one that's right for your campaign. This buying guide explains how to do just that and also offers general pricing information for buying mailing lists.
An Overview of Mailing Lists
Before you purchase mailing lists, you should have a basic idea of what type of list you need. The following criteria can help you develop a starting point.
- Buying vs. Renting: Buying a mailing list means that you own the list, can use it as many times as you want, and are responsible for keeping it up to date.
More common, however, is mailing list rental, in which you pay for one-time access to a list or unlimited access within a specified time period. It's cheaper, on average, to rent a mailing list, and some companies only allow you to rent mailing lists.
- Compiled list vs. Response list: Compiled mailing lists, also known as "cold lists," are culled from databases with consumer and business information obtained from numerous sources. The contacts on a compiled list did not necessarily respond to previous direct mail requests, and response rates for these lists are generally lower.
Response lists, on the other hand, are comprised of people who have previously responded to direct mail requests or given permission for companies to contact them. As a result, you can expect a greater response rate from mail sent to these customers.
- Business list vs. Consumer list: For a more targeted (and successful) direct marketing campaign, you'll probably want to narrow down your list to include either businesses or consumers (though most brokers can provide both).
Business to business mailing lists are put together from data sources such as business directories and government agencies. You can further narrow down a business mailing list by using selects that include number of employees and annual revenue.
Compiled from phone directories, birth certificates, and other sources, consumer mailing lists can be narrowed down by using selects like credit rating and household income.
Other things to keep in mind when buying mailing lists include:
- List quality: The success of your campaign is highly dependent upon having a good list. With mailing lists for marketing, like most things, you get what you pay for. Extremely inexpensive lists are likely to be out of date or poor quality. Lists filtered by multiple, specific criteria, while pricier, should provide a better return on investment (ROI).
- List brokers are just middlemen: Although you purchase a mailing list from a broker, it most likely came from a list owner that holds information on millions of contacts. Because they are essentially "go-between" entities that match list owners with those who want to buy mailing lists, most list providers don't deal with the actual mailing of materials. A few brokers are full service companies that handle everything from design to mailing to data management.
Mailing List Average Costs
The cost to buy a mailing list is typically based upon the cost per thousand impressions (CPM), although you can also evaluate it on a cost per name basis.
- For a consumer mailing list, expect a CPM cost of around $50 to $200 ($.05 to $.20 per name).
- For business mailing lists, the CPM is around $150 to $350 ($.15 to $.35 per name).
- The total cost for an order with around 5,000 names (including obtaining a list, designing marketing materials, postage/mailing, and fulfillment) is approximately $2,500 to $5,000.
Mailing List Sample Costs
To better understand the cost of purchase a mailing list, take a look at actual prices paid by customers nationwide:
- A Georgia consultant paid approximately $.12 per name for a business mailing list.
- A Texas real estate company paid around $5,000 for business lists in different states.
- A Rhone Island advertiser paid roughly $.18 per name for a business list.
- A New Jersey media company paid around $.06 per name for a consumer mailing list.
- A Florida plumber paid approximately 10 cents per name for a consumer list.