Need Direct Mail Marketing Tips?

Here's the first of our direct mail marketing tips, and it's a big one...


An opted-in customer database gives the best results, not just for direct mail but for a bulk email marketing campaign or sms campaign too.

So, the first step in preparing a direct mail campaign is to gather customer data. What are your options?


Option 1: Harvest data from directories, online resources etc.

  • Pros: little or no cost

  • Cons: time consuming, poor response rates, possible legal issues
This is probably the least effective option for large-scale direct mail marketing, and may have potential legal implications.

Please note this information applies primarily to UK based businesses.

Is your mailing B2B?
The position is simple - there are no legal barriers to sending unsolicited direct marketing mail to a business address.

It’s not recommended to indiscriminately trawl for business names and addresses, though. For example, there’s no easy or quick way to identify characteristics that may make them good or bad targets for your direct mail campaign, so response rates may be very poor.

If you are going to harvest data this way, another of our tips is to keep it to a very local level, and ideally hand-pick good prospects yourself.

Is your mailing B2C?
If so, you need to screen the data against the Mail Preference Service suppression list. Forget about tips, this is a requirement. You can do it yourself, or pay a data screening service to do it for you. Either way, there is a cost.

Bear in mind there could also be a cost in the shape of a hefty fine if you don’t screen. See the links in the right column for more on the MPS, screening tips, options and services.


Option 2: Buy or rent a mailing list

  • Pros: quick, pre-screened, no legal issues, customers characteristics can be specified

  • Cons: cost, possibly poor response rates
A safer option, especially for B2C direct mail marketing, provided you buy from a reputable source. The data will already be screened, and you can also specify the characteristics of the customers to suit your offering.

There’s usually a minimum cost for buying data, which tends to rule this option out for small local mailings. Probably best for larger scale regional or national direct mail marketing campaigns.

Option 3: Build your own opted-in direct marketing lists


  • Pros: relevance, best response rate, no legal issues

  • Cons: takes time and effort to build
Nothing works better for direct mail than an
opted-in marketing list. Why?
  • Customers have chosen to hear from you

  • Database segmentation means you can pick out
    specific customer types to suit your offering

  • Because a customer has chosen to opt-in, you don’t have to screen your data against the MPS. Even if the customer is registered with the MPS, their voluntary opt-in overrides it.
More direct mail marketing tips coming soon...

direct marketing consulting
You can sweat over the fine details of a direct mail marketing campaign, right down to the best colour of ink you use to sign a mailshot letter (it’s blue, incidentally!).

But if you don’t get the mailing list right, you’re almost certainly wasting time effort and money. And that’s why it’s top of my direct mail marketing tips.

If you’d like to explore further, take a look at these pages…

To leave direct mail marketing tips and find out how to harness the potential of a customer database, start at our small business database marketing homepage>>

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