Direct Mail

5. Using External Mailing Lists

5.1 Many lists can be rented or bought in.

  • Specialist magazines or websites, and conference or exhibition organisers are a good source.
  • Most directories rent out their lists and will send out the mailing on your behalf.Copying the names and addresses to add to your database is a breach of copyright.
  • Some trade associations allow access to member lists. Check the Directory of British Associations (
  • Most business support networks offer a wide range of lists.For small mailshots, such lists are often cheaper than those provided by other sources.
  • The Direct Marketing Association (see 6) can provide a list of members (list owners, brokers and managers) who adhere to the industry code of practice.

5.2 Be methodical about selecting and negotiating the use of external lists.

  • Identify your needs clearly, in writing.
  • Shop around to check prices.A good business list of people who have previously responded by mail – ie they are mail responsive – will cost at least £200 per 1,000 names. If you want additional information, eg telephone numbers or email addresses, this will usually cost extra.
  • Ask for the lowest minimum order from the list and test part of it.
  • If there is a high minimum order (eg 5,000 names), you may be able to negotiate this down.
  • Knock out flaws in bought-in lists, for example, duplications of branch offices.
  • Insist on exclusive use for your type of business while you are doing your mailing.
  • Do not re-use a list you have rented for one-off use. The list owner will have seeded it, to check that you do not abuse the agreement.However, you may re-contact everyone who responds to your original mailing. These names become yours.
  • Agree a refund if a high percentage (say, more than 5 per cent) of your mail packs are returned as undeliverable.

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