Buying Direct Mailing Lists: Does it Ever Make Sense?

Despite constant speculation the USPS, Royal Mail, Canada Post, etc., won’t be hanging up their mail bags in the foreseeable future. Why? Because people like the feeling of opening their mailbox and sorting through the various paper treasures that await them inside.

Direct mail is often considered dead by the vast majority of marketers, who feel the time and expense needed to push out a campaign pales in comparison to the push button convenience offered by marketing online with email. However, this age-old practice is actually quite lucrative, and safe. Spam complaints can sideline online marketing efforts, while complaints are extremely rare with paper mailing.


But you want to know if you should actually waste time and money buying a curated list or not. Can it be profitable? Will the people on such Direct Mailing Lists actually respond to the mailers you send them?

Yes and yes!

Direct mailing is powerful, profitable, helps significantly spread your branding reach, and can help to double or triple your online marketing efforts if done right and done regularly.

Direct mail is a proven concept, no matter what your friends or family tell you

Everyone, regardless of how they make their purchase decisions, will succumb to direct mail at some point in their life. It’s been around since the first postman made their first delivery. Heck, the Romans probably marketed via mail, though evidence doesn’t really exist. Take a look at some of these promising direct mailing stats:

  • Half of Americans prefer direct mail over email.
  • 70 percent say they find direct mail to be more personal than email.
  • 56 percent of Americans take pleasure in receiving direct mail.
  • This USPS study showed over 60 percent of recipients were encouraged to make their first online purchase via direct mail.

Expanding beyond your current customer base

Consider the fact there are likely thousands or tens of thousands of customers out there who would love to own your product. The problem? You don’t know where they all are and most of them have never heard of your company. With a quality direct mailing list in hand, you can send correspondence to anyone in the country for the price of a stamp – and nobody’s saying you can’t send mail internationally to Canada, Australia, the UK, etc.! When someone tells you that buying a targeted mailing list is a waste of time, ignore them.

Reduced time and expense spent on marketing

Smart marketers realize that buying a ready-to-use, qualified list of prospects is anything but an expense. You can start marketing to qualified prospects within hours of making the purchase, and quickly make your money back. Regardless of what you pay for a list, if it hasn’t been marketed to death, you’re going to increase sales. Even if your first mailing or two doesn’t produce immediate sales, you have the opportunity to build a relationship over time with prospects you might have never crossed paths with otherwise.

Direct mailing lists allow you to target specific customer wants and needs

You won’t find this with every list provider. Many will offer data about the customers you’ll be marketing to, such as demographic information, purchase history, along with past response rates. This information can be invaluable when deciding what products you can offer that stand the best chance of grabbing a prospect’s or entire list’s attention.

Direct mail design
photo credit: Behance

Direct mailing can turbocharge your online marketing efforts

If people like what you have to say in your mailings, chances are they’re going to go online to check out your website and peruse your company’s social profiles. There, they can opt-in to your email list, and subscribe to your RSS and social feeds. Even if the mailer didn’t sell them completely, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to catch the prospect’s eye in the future. Best, you didn’t have to market your butt off in the first place getting all those addresses and customer data!

Testing emails for lists you’ve built on your own

If none of the reasons listed above seem compelling, another reason to purchase a direct mailing list is to test mailers on “cooler” prospects who aren’t used to receiving correspondence from you. Doing so allows you to get an idea as to how your warm mailing lists will respond to new promotions and the like. You can A/B split test, tweak, and even scrap ideas that don’t perform well on purchased lists. Be professional – don’t egregiously spam or otherwise abuse the lists you buy!

Tactile is just simply better

Direct mail allows someone to get a clear 3D visual of what you’re offering. You can even send small samplers of inexpensive products to get the customer really jazzed up about making a purchase.When it comes to perceived value, physical marketing materials just plain seem to be worth more. Consumers know that it doesn’t cost much to email them a sales pitch and best; when they respond to your direct mailer, you know they’re interested because they have to do more than just click on a link and offer up their email as they would with email marketing.

When you get your hands on a quality, targeted list, response rates are typically higher, as too, are sales rates – especially when a coupon or free and compelling bonus offer are included.

Do you or have you ever used direct mail as a marketing tool?

And if so, have you ever purchased a direct mailing list and had success with it?