How to compile a database for direct marketing

Before mailing, you need accurate information about your market

Nine out of ten companies today have a database. Indeed, the database is becoming one of the most valuable assets on the company balance sheet.

Before you begin mailing, you need accurate and up to date information about your target market.

Most companies combine their own contacts with a list bought externally. When merging data in this way, beware duplication.

You can compile your own list from a number of sources, including existing customers and contacts and the electoral register. You can refer to lists of members of organisations such as Chambers of Commerce or look up directories in the library. But copying and mailing a whole list is a breach of copyright.

To find out where you can rent a list, start by approaching the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). List rental costs about £100-120 per 1,000 names, and lists of consumers are cheaper than lists of business contacts.

The types of lists available include those with lifestyle information, with details of income, car, number of children etc, and geodemographic lists which are arranged by social type and geographical area.

To find the best list for your business, you need to describe clearly the types of customers you want to attract. Ask for a list of high spenders and assess for quality by checking validation methods, percentage of postcodes and frequency of updating.

Renting lists means you are paying to use the list once, so insist on exclusive use during your mailing. All responses to this mailing can be added to your own database and mailed again.

Check that all names registered with the Mailing Preference Service, ie those who object to direct mail, have been removed from the list.

To find out where you can rent a list, start by approaching the Direct Marketing Association.

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