Do you buy mailing list data? If so you may be familiar with datacard selections, which provide the source titles and brief descriptions of the audience the list targets. Importantly, datacards are about numbers. For starters, the sheer number of datacards is upwards of 100,000. Some may reach a wide audience, with records totaling in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. Others may be narrow – a few thousand records – but represent a specialized, high value audience. In any case they go a long way to providing marketers with an actionable idea of just how big their reachable target audience can be.
To succeed, direct mail campaigns have to be targeted strategically and accurately. The connection between offer and audience must be, well, direct. That’s where those 100,000 mailing lists come in. They offer myriad ways to put a keen edge on your prospecting.
At its core, a useful mailing list captures a significant portion of a defined target universe. High quality is achieved when a list is current, verified, and detailed. Quality come at a cost. However it is far cheaper than a mailing rife with undeliverable addresses or a mis-targeted audience.
Datacard Selections: Choose. Then Pick.
The record counts that make up mailing lists tend to flow from general to specific. Segments tend to be the largest groupings, headed by the “universe” count. Major sub-segments follow.
As an example U.S. residents might proceed from National, to State, County, and City population counts. If the mailing list is about credit activity, magazine or software subscribers, or new movers, major sub-segments may be expressed in terms of recency. If they are investors the segments may be calibrated by net worth. Segments can be the big chunks of records that set the boundaries for list building. They pave the way for more granular selections.
Once the broader segments have been identified, fine tuning begins. Choices become more detailed. If the mailing list is of businesses, then selections may include business formation type, industry subcategory, SIC code, years in business, sales volume, UCC filings, number of employees, main phone/fax contact, and top contact. It may go on to provide details about the executive leadership, matching names with tiles, including demographic details for each person.
Go With The Flow
With so much choice, it is easy to get lost in this sea of data. The relationship between segments and selects is determined by the domain the list represents. This reveals itself as a natural flow from larger/general to smaller/specific. While the nomenclature may differ, it’s actually quite logical. Depending on the subject at hand, the sequence of selections can look something like this:
- Political Donors > Party > Age > Education > Geography > Amount > Postal / Email / Phone / IP Targeting
- Educators > Admin or Classroom > Subject > Grade Level > Postal / Email / Phone / Fax / IP Targeting
- Expectant/New Mothers > Age > (Pre-natal) Trimester > (Post-natal) Baby Age > Number of Children > Postal / Email / Phone / IP Targeting
- Businesses > Business/Industry type > SIC code > Business Address > Branch Offices > Years in Business > Sales Volume > UCC filings > Number of Employees > Top Contact > Postal / Email / Phone / Fax / IP Targeting
- Executives > CEO > COO > CFO > CMO > CIO > Director > Manager > Postal / Email / Phone / Fax / IP Targeting
- Investors > Age > Gender > Net Worth > Postal / Email / Phone / Fax / IP Targeting
- New Movers > Geography > Age > Gender > Presence of Children > Asking Price > Dwelling Type > Income Range > Mortgage Type > Postal / Email / Phone / Fax / IP Targeting
An interesting approach to consider is that the ideal list may be built from datacard selections using a number of lists. Demographic details from a New Movers list may be augmented with party affiliation email addresses from another, then subscriber details from a publication, and so on. It’s not a “one list fits all” world.
SEgments? SElects? SEmantics!
The bottom line is, segments and selects differ mostly by scale. Each is a selection. A choice. The nomenclature is designed to help direct marketers organize and prioritize the process of building their mailing lists. Top to bottom. Big picture to close-up. Macro to micro.
Whatever they are called, mailing list selections are among the most critical choices to be made when designing a direct mail campaign. Experienced marketers understand this, and are able to understand and evaluate the potential of a mailing list datacard. They, or the brokers they work with, will then be able to determine if they are in the right neighborhoods, on the right streets and at the right doors.