How to Buy a Mailing List

Buying a mailing list made easy

If you’re going to send a direct mail campaign, you need names and addresses so we’ll show you how to buy a mailing list. After all, you can’t send a mail campaign without it!

we show you how to buy a mailing list
We show you how to buy a mailing list

The path to finding a good mailing list is not always easy. You can’t just buy any mailing list; you need to find one that fits your campaign’s specific needs. The success of your campaign hinges on the quality of your address information.

If you’ve never bought a mailing list before, it may seem like an overwhelming project. You might have tons of questions, including: how do I buy a mailing list, where do I buy one, how much does a mailing list cost? Whether you’re a buying a mailing list for the first time, or you’re looking to improve your list-buying experience, read on and we’ll answer these questions and more.

And once you have a mailing list, here are instructions to build a mailing list using Excel.

How do I buy a mailing list? First find your target audience

If there’s an enthusiast hobby, you can bet there’s a mailing list available to reach it.

When you’re buying list data, the first thing you need to decide is who your target audience is. Who are you trying to reach? When you think about your audience, you need to break them down into demographics: the types of people you are trying to reach. This is also known as mailing list segmentation.

Examples of segmentation in mailing lists include location-specific demographics. This is where your audience lives, like in a specific ZIP code or in a specific state.

Other demographics include people stats, like their age, gender, and income. Using segmentation to reach specific types of people is known as targeted mailing.

Other types of segmentation include sales stage segmentation for new or returning customers, business segmentation for reaching companies, or even hobby segmentation that you can use to reach enthusiasts in your field.

You are not just limited to one segmentation. You can also order a mailing list with multiple demographics. For example, you can first narrow a list down to a specific location, like a ZIP code radius. Then you can use another segmentation, like age, to find people within your ZIP code between 30-40 years old. These options are also called “selects.” Selects will sometimes cost extra.

Reaching enthusiasts through mailing lists

Reach enthusiasts in many different markets using mailing lists

We just mentioned hobbies as a possible demographic you can reach. If you work in a field that’s trying to reach hobbyists, you can find them through a targeted mailing list.

Some companies, like Enthusiasts Direct, specialize in enthusiast mailing lists in countless different markets. Potential hobbyists you can reach include fishing enthusiasts, fitness enthusiasts, RV owners, sports fans, musicians and music collectors, plus much, much more.

To understand where hobbyist data and other data comes from, you need to understand two different types of lists you can use. These are compiled data lists and response type lists.

National Change of Address (NCOA)

When buying a mailing list ask about National Change of Address (NCOA) processing. NCOA is a database of movers and address changes compiled by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The database contains about 160 million permanent change-of-address records of names and addresses. This data includes individuals, families, as well as businesses. It is a service provided under the trademark NCOALink.

This service is licensed to mailing list data companies by the USPS to maintain good list hygiene.

Any mailing list provider should be able to answer questions on how recently a list was processed through NCOA and how often a list is processed.

Compiled mailing lists

Compiled lists group together people with similar interests. The information in compiled lists comes from many different sources, including consumer databases, phone records, magazine subscriptions, vehicle registration data, and government databases.

“Big data” companies that compile billions of bits of consumer-level data contribute to compiled mailing list data.

Response mailing lists

Addresses on response lists come from people who bought products or services in the hobbyist fields you’re searching for.

Response lists also include self-reported data. For example, an enthusiast registers on a website and allows that personal information to be shared. If the website is very specific in nature it can be assumed all people share the same interest. If the website is not very specific, there may be qualifying questions on areas of interest when someone registers.

Choosing a type of mailing list

Once you’ve decided on your demographics, you need to think about how you’re trying to reach people. If you’re sending out a promotional flyer, you’ll want postal addresses, or if you’re sending out an email, you want a list of email addresses. Be clear on what type of campaign you are sending.

You also need to choose between whether you want to buy or rent an address list. Buying lists are more expensive and require constant maintenance to keep them accurate. Because they are cheaper and easier to maintain, rental lists are a popular option. You won’t be able to keep the addresses on a rented list, but you can keep the information of anyone who responds to your campaign.

Once you’ve made these decisions for your campaign, you can start looking at where to buy or rent a mailing list.

Rent or buy?

If you’re getting a mailing list, most of the time the lists are purchased. Lists from Enthusiasts Direct are purchased lists. When you purchase a list you own it and have unlimited access to use it.

Lists from publishers or from companies with a customer list are usually rented. You pay to use the list one time, or multiple times if that is an option. The list has seed names in it so the owner of the list knows if the list is used more than it should.

Today most lists are purchased. Up until ten or 15 years ago, lists were commonly rented.

Where do you buy a mailing list?

Whether you’re buying or renting a mailing list, you get your information the same way. There are many services dedicated to giving you mailing list information.

One way you can get mailing lists is through a list broker. List brokers take the goals and demographics of your campaign into consideration, then do research to find addresses that best fit your needs. There are also list managers. They already have specific lists compiled, and you can rent or buy these lists from them.

If you’re using sending your campaign through a full-service mailing company, they will usually provide a mailing list for you. “Full service” means they handle every part of your mailing campaign, including mailer design, building and sending your campaign.

A full-service mailing company is sometimes called a “mailing house.”

When you’re looking at a mailing list provider, be sure to ask them plenty of questions. Examples of questions you can ask include how often they update their data, how do they receive their data, and how much does it cost to use their mailing list? This information is useful in determining how accurate the addresses you’re using are. We’ll cover the cost of a mailing list in the next section.

How much does a mailing list cost?

Regardless of whether you’re using email addresses or postal addresses, the total cost of your mailing list will depend on the cost per thousand addresses, also known as CPM. For example, if each name on a mailing list is worth $0.15, then the CPM would be $150 for every one thousand addresses you buy. If you buy 10,000 addresses, that brings your order total up to $1,500.

The price for each name on a list may vary depending on whether you’re buying a list to reach out to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B). The average cost of a name on B2C lists average between $0.05 to $0.25, which gives you a CPM of $50 to $250 for every thousand addresses. B2B mailing lists are typically more expensive, around $0.175 to $0.375 for each name, for a CPM of $175 to $375.

You get what you pay for! Cheaper lists are typically compiled from data that is less accurate, or older, or both. Cheaper response lists usually use outdated data.

Enthusiasts Direct mailing lists start at $0.13 per record, or $13 CPM, with a minimum order of 10,000 records. For 10,000 records, that is 10-thousand records, so the math is $13 CPM x 10 = $1,300.

There may be additional fees wrapped into your mailing list. Often there is a minimal list delivery feed to cover administrative expenses because mailing lists have low margins. Services like mail deployment, analytics tracking, and turnaround time could cost more. Be sure to consider all possible costs when budgeting for a mailing list.

Enthusiasts Direct charges a $50 List Delivery Fee for orders up to 50,000 records.

Conclusion on how to buy a mailing list

That concludes our guide to mailing lists. Now that you know how to search, buy, and budget for a mailing list, you can shop more confidently. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our site for more information.


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