Direct Mail List Criteria 101

You’ve decided on a message, a direct mail piece and budget. Don’t forget one of the most important factors to consider: who’s on the direct mail list to receive this material? Without narrowing your target audience, you could be wasting valuable marketing dollars.

First thing’s first- what zip codes are you mailing to? In rural areas, clients have a larger footprint. In more urban areas, where there is typically more competition and people are less likely to travel, footprints are much smaller.

Next, look at a map and factor in natural barriers like mountains or bodies of water. Zip codes on the “other side” should be reconsidered or eliminated. There’s a variety of other reasons for areas to be suppressed in a direct mail list: low income, zip history, poor response rates, competition…

Direct Mail List CriteriaOnce the where is selected, the next step is choosing the who.

For most, age is the easiest criteria to determine. Our clients generally mail to 65+, but many also target adults 55 and over. When deciding the age of your target audience, think back to the last few customers you had, about what kind of customers you want and your specific location. Are you in an “older” area? If so, you can be more selective with a higher age range and finances. Do you find that 55 year olds tend to come in for evaluations, but aren’t ready to purchase? Bump your demographic up to 65.

While some healthcare professionals choose not to do this, we always recommend to consider financial positions with mail campaigns. Hearing aids are a large purchase, and some don’t have the resources to make that purchase. Income can be a tricky criteria, simply because older people often don’t have one. Evaluating net worth can paint a more complete picture of a prospect’s ability to make a purchase.

Now that you’ve got your demographics, this information gets purchased from a direct mail list vendor. As we’re sure you know, the end result is not perfect. Our vendors update their lists every 90 days for NCOAs (national change of address), but it’s impossible to get a 100% accurate list. Did you know that in order to get a deceased family member off a mailing list, you may have to send a copy of the death certificate? These and other variables guarantee that a purchased list won’t ever be exact, and a 2-4% return rate should be expected with any campaign.

Every business and every location is different. There’s no canned approach to take. It’s all about smart evaluation, and trial and error to determine what will be most effective for you.

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