Marketing is a lot like talking to a teenager. It can seem like your words are going in one ear and out the other. But studies show that teenagers really are listening—and so are your potential customers.

Direct mail marketing is a great way to get your message in front of your potential customers. Studies show that even the young, tech-savvy generation still looks forward to getting the mail. And despite the arrival of the digital world, direct mail still has a better response rate than email marketing: a 9% response when using a list composed of customer data and a nearly 5% response rate when using a prospect list. Compare that to a click-through rate of just 3% for email.

Tom Foti, executive director of product management for the U.S. Postal Service tells Business News Daily:

“Direct mail creates a one-on-one connection that’s hard for other media channels to match. It lets you incorporate coupons, reply cards, mobile barcodes such as QR codes, URLs and other response mechanisms … direct mail is a workhorse for generating leads, traffic and sales.”

It’s all about the list

Before you mail, however, you need to make your list—and check it twice. No good will come from a direct mail campaign if you have a bad list. The best lists are organically grown through contact with your customers. Collect key information from your customers through a loyalty program or a sign-up for offers online. This allows you to gather information about their shopping habits specific to your business.

But when you want to go beyond existing customers and appeal to prospective customers, purchasing or renting a list might be your best option. A high-quality list will improve the success of your direct mail campaign. When choosing which list to purchase or rent, consider four things:

  • Deliverability – The list seller should guarantee that a minimum of 90% of the addresses are deliverable addresses.
  • Timeliness – Make sure the list has been updated and verified through the National Change of Address database on a regular basis.
  • One time vs. unlimited – Decide whether you want to purchase or rent a list for a one-time use or for unlimited use.
  • Compilation – Know how the list is compiled. Some lists are created by directly gathering information from the people on the list while others are built using a computer model. For example, lists created by a computer model might make the assumption that everyone living in an upper-middle-class neighborhood meets a certain income threshold while a list created from direct information will have actual income data.

No matter what type of list you need, ask lots of questions of the list provider to make sure you’re getting a list that will enhance your direct mail campaign.

Segment your list

Another way to get the most out of your marketing dollar in a direct mail campaign is to segment your mailing list. Whether you have your own organically generated mailing list or you’ve purchased a list from a reputable company, segmentation is key for making that list work for you.

Segmentation simply refers to breaking your list into identifiable groups that you can then target with specific messages. Some segmentation options include:

  • Geographic – Divide your list based on where people live or work.
  • Demographic – Split up your list based on demographic information like age, income or presence of children.
  • Interests – Create a grouping of people who share a particular interest like gardening or reading.
  • Special events – Send out a birthday or holiday greeting.
  • Shopping behavior – Group people based on their past shopping behavior or past purchases.
  • Last interaction – Contact people based on the last time your business had an interaction with them.
  • Amount spent – Target consumers who spend more with your business by segmenting by the amount they spend.

Segmentation works on any list, and the more information you have about the people on your list, the better you can target your direct mail.

Choose a mailing strategy

Another way to use your list is to create a mailing strategy, which generally includes two types:

  • Targeted – A targeted mailing strategy can improve your response rate and tends to work well with a specific offer aimed at a certain set of people. For example, if you’re a plumber, you probably only want to target homeowners (because renters will expect the landlord to fix any plumbing problems). A targeted mailing strategy allows you to mail only to those homes on a specific route where the resident owns the home.
  • Saturation – A saturation mailing strategy means every residence on a certain carrier route receives your piece. Saturation works well for businesses like restaurants or grocery stores that have an offer that appeals to a broad swath of people.

Get your message out

Getting a good list, using list segmentation and choosing the right mailing strategies allow you to design and implement a successful direct mail campaign. Your customers and potential customers are listening, so take the right steps to share your message loud and clear.

Dan Woehrman is owner of Callender Printing, offering full-service printing capabilities – including letterpress, offset and digital – with union craftsmen quality. Share your thoughts on Facebook or on Twitter @CallenderPrint.