Many fine mailing lists are available for rent or purchase. But experts agree that the most valuable list to which you will ever mail is your house list — that is, a list of your own customers and prospects.
Since the people on your house list already know and trust your brand, the experience of most direct marketers suggests that they are more likely than non-customers to purchase from you.
Start building a quality direct mail list
Building a house list is the first step toward true database marketing. Here are nine ways to get yours started:
- Ask. Building a mailing list can be as easy as saying, “May I add you to our mailing list?” Don’t be shy. You’d be surprised at the number of customers who want to hear from you.
- Have a sign-up sheet. Set it out, in plain sight, near the register. Be sure to provide a pen. Also enclose a self-addressed sign-up card with every purchase.
- Set out a fishbowl for business cards. Many companies invite customers to toss their business card into a fishbowl for a chance at winning a prize. Unwise companies throw away the cards after the drawing, but wise ones first add the information from the cards to a mailing list.
- Check the checks. Most checks display your customer’s name and address. Before sending checks to the bank, add the information to your mailing list.
- Include prospects. Everyone who shows an interest — not just people who purchase — deserves an invitation to join your mailing list. This includes people who stop by, phone, write or e-mail with questions.
- Ask for referrals. People who buy from you probably associate with others who have like tastes. Give them sign-up cards to share with their friends.
- Keep notes. Away from public view (to protect privacy), jot down information that will help you send relevant communications to your customers. Note areas of interest, preferred brands, favorite colors, sizes, past purchases, purchase dates, frequency of visits and whether the person is a customer or prospect. Thus when you have a new shipment of Item A or a special on Service B, you can easily identify the people on your list who will be most likely to appreciate knowing about it.
- Mail often to your list. The reason people agree to be on your list is that they want to hear from you. Don’t let them down. Mailing too infrequently only risks your brand being forgotten.
- Track responses. Note customers who reference or bring in your mailings. These are the people who are the most responsive to them. You may find that it pays to increase the frequency of your mailings to this group.