Mailing Lists – 9 More Places to Buy a Direct Mail List

1. Trade Associations Mailing Lists

Trade Associations are unusually excellent sources of mailing lists. Better associations always include the industry’s top major players. Local associations like the local Chamber of Commerce in your area are usually good for a mailing list of local business names. You can select your direct mail list criteria by business size, number of employees, SIC code (the government’s industry classification of each business), or any of a multitude of other selection parameters.

Two great sources for finding associations are reference books from ColumbiaHouse Books, Inc., publishers of the State and Regional Associations Directory and The National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States. Mailing lists of the associations are available on labels or download.

Association mailing lists and data are also available in the giant reference Encyclopedia of Associations by The Gale Group on disk, CD, and on-line through Lexis-Nexis. This hard bound, three-volume set is the mother load of associations – showing detailed information on more than 23,000 local, state, national, and international associations. If you need a direct mail list from an association, if you can’t find the association name, address and phone in here, you can’t find it.

2. Mailing List Resources: List Reference Tools

Two excellent resources for investigating lists at the library are the SRDS Direct Marketing List Source(TM) and the Oxbridge Communications National Directory of Mailing Lists. We use both of these huge directories of lists in our own office – they’re thorough and easy to use. These reference tools are each about the size of the Manhattan phone book and contain nothing but mailing list data: who owns what mail list, number of records in each, source of names and direct mail list pricing. Both tools are available in major libraries.

3. Mailing List Brokers

Mailing list brokers are found in phone books in every major city. They can be heaven, supplying incredible information, or hell, looking for that fast buck. Make sure you ask tons of questions before handing over any money (Please see the article “12 questions to ask a mailing list vendor,” at and at While you pay for the list, the broker actually works independently for the list owner – so take that into consideration when you ask questions and negotiate price. The broker makes a commission on each list sale, and generally sells a variety of lists for multiple companies. A list agent works exclusively for the firm that sells the list.

A plethora of list managers and direct mail lists owners can be found in the direct mail trade magazines such as Multichannel Merchant Magazine: Target Marketing, and DM News.

4. Catalogs of Mailing Lists

Some list brokers are huge and have their own catalog of mailing lists. Some of these direct mail list catalogs are over 100 pages long! Some direct mail list catalogs are handy reference tools that will give you an idea of just what’s out there – what kind of lists are available and counts of how many records exist in the thousands of different mailing list categories. Please see the full article on mailing lists titled, “Free Catalogs of Mailing Lists,” at

Want to know how many dentists there are? It’s a piece of cake: 190,168 are members of the ADA. Want to know if there is a mailing list of picky ale drinkers? Find the mailing list of “Ale in the Mail-Continuity Members:” 70,973 of them. Selling an accounting product? Try the mailing list from the Accounting Institute Seminar Attendees – all 78,634 of them. Looking for college professors? Did you want the 43,347 who teach English, or the 18,184 who teach history, or the 8,477 in marketing, or the 9,194 philosophy teachers, or the…

If you need additional information – like how many doctors who specialize in allergies and are the head of their practice with four or more employees can be found in Pennsylvania – call any of these catalog houses and ask them to run a mailing list count with those parameters. You’ll be able to get that information in about ten minutes. Hugo Dunhill, American Business Lists, and Edith Roman to name just a few. Phone numbers for mailing list brokers can be found in the books Uncommon Marketing Techniques and How To Market A Product For Under $500!

5. Lists on CD

Several companies now offer lists of every business or every person in the U.S. on CD-ROM. These products allow you to create your own list criteria and generate your own precisely targeted direct mail lists. Some of the better programs make it easy and fast to use their CD-ROM products.

6. Internet

One of the best resources for lists is the Internet. There’s no getting around it now, the Internet is here to stay — you might as well get used to it. It’s a great – probably the best – research tool available for almost anything, if you can filter out the crap from the good stuff. But… isn’t that the way with all research tools: you gotta figure out which is the good stuff that you can use, and which is the bad stuff that you’ve just spent the last two hours looking over and have now figured out is pretty worthless. Yea, the Internet is like that – in spades.

7. Trade Shows Mailing Lists

Trade shows are great marketing events, and trade show lists are also great marketing tools. You can usually buy mailing lists of both attendees and of exhibitors. Check out two great websites: one is and the other for trade show information. The Tradeshow Week Data Book is a great tool published by the editors of Tradeshow Week Magazine.

8. The Enemy

You’d be surprised how many of your competitors will sell your their customers’ names to mail to. If not competitors, how about asking other businesses who serve your market if you can purchase their mailing lists. Warranty lists and data, registrations, some firms just seem to warehouse data that would make a great direct mail list to someone.

9. House List

Of course, the best list of all – bar none – is your own direct marketing list of current and past customers. These are the folks that know you and trust you; they’ve experienced that great customer service you offer and are now willing to buy something else from you if you would only let them know it’s available. Spend some extra time in this most important area – of list research: tighten your list criteria, do your homework, spend time in research, and find the best mail lists you can possibly find. Then test several.

Selecting a direct mail list isn’t as rewarding as generating the creative for a new glitzy 4-color brochure, or an exciting mailing package. But it shows up where it counts the most – in your bottom line. The better your direct mail list, the better your response. Guaranteed.

It’s worth the extra time and money to target your audience with precision and increase the chance you’ll come up a winner at the post office. There is no single more important factor in creating a greater response to a mailing than mailing to the best possible list. Whatever you do, don’t settle for a mediocre list unless you want mediocre results. The better the list, the greater the response.

Bio, Jeffrey Dobkin

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Mailing Lists – The Two Kinds of Lists and Two of the Best Places to Purchase Them

In this, the first of this two-part article set, you’ll learn from our discussion the types of mailing lists, and two of the best places to buy lists. In the second part you’ll learn the other 9 places to buy a mailing list.

There are two types of direct mail lists, determined by their origin: compiled direct mail lists and response mailing lists.

Compiled Direct Mail Lists

Compiled mailing lists are a common source of name and address records that have been gathered, collected, and entered into a database. The names may have been acquired through public records such as vehicle owner registrations, court transcripts, or private sources such as warranty cards or purchasers at a store.

The bulk of compiled mailing lists are generated from categories in phone books across the U.S. Examples of a few of the compiled lists available from phone books would be a list of all the photography studios, or a listing of all the luggage dealers in the United States. Or a mailing list of all the plumbing supply dealers, or Chevy or Ford agencies.

Most industries have trade directories that are usually compiled industry data from various sources; most are verified by phone and make pretty good direct mail lists. A directory of pet product manufacturers, or of heating and cooling contractors would be good examples of a compiled industry direct mail lists.

Keep in mind that compiled information – like fish – gets old rather quickly and doesn’t age particularly well. Mailings lists fall into the top of that category – the fresher the names, the better. The older the names, the less accurate – and the greater your returns.

Response Direct Mail lists

Response direct mail lists are usually databases of consumers who have inquired or purchased from a direct response ad, direct mail catalog, from a direct mail offer, direct-selling TV ad, direct response newspaper ad, or other direct response offer. The most common response direct mail lists are from catalog merchants.

Before you consider purchasing any direct mail list, analyze the database of your own customers. Ask yourself precisely what commonalities they have, then look for these characteristics in a new list mailing database.

Start searching for a new mailing list based on your perfect target audience. Find a list that closely matches the definable characteristics of your own customers. If this exact mailing list isn’t available, see how close you can come to buying the most perfect business mail list – and test mail to it in smaller numbers. Measure and track response.

Today’s direct mail can be very precisely targeted due to the precision of the mailing list data available. If you can tightly specify a mailing list, you can probably find a list perfectly matched to your specifications. The more you qualify the names on your mail list, the tighter you specify your perfect mailing list segments, the more response, and the less wasted advertising expense you’ll have in your direct mail campaign. The higher your response, the better your chances of success and profit.

Your selection of a direct mail list has more to do with your success or failure than any other single element in your mailing. Before any mailing, calculate what percent response you need to have to break even, and see if it’s realistic. If it’s over 2%, better rethink about mailing.

The precise targeting of mailing makes direct mail one of the most effective, cost efficient ways to market as long as you define your audience up front and match your direct mail list to your audience.

Delivery of your direct mail depends on the accuracy and recency of your list. Better quality, more recent mailing lists have much better delivery rates. A poor list can mean up to 20% or 30% of your standard mail (bulk-rate) won’t be delivered. 10% more will be delivered, but you won’t know to whom. Of that 20% to 30%, some of your direct mail pieces will be returned to you, beat up beyond recognition by the postal service and certainly of no further value.

Some pieces get delivered, but to the wrong address. Other pieces of your mail just get lost, and no one really knows where they went. In contrast, when you purchase a recent, accurate direct mail list, delivery can be as high as a whopping 95% – 97%!

Some of the best delivery percentages of direct mail mailing lists can be found in magazine publisher’s list of their magazine subscribers.

Magazine mailing lists have some of the highest delivery rates available. For good reason: Subscriber lists are naturally very targeted to their annually-qualified magazine readers. Publishers pay for returns: so their mailing lists have high deliverability rates as publishers are extremely prompt with their name and address corrections.

Most magazine publishers will rent their mailing list for non-competing offers (such as anything other than similar magazines). If you see a magazine that looks like it will be a good target for your direct mail campaign, call the magazine publisher and ask if their subscriber mailing list is for rent. Most larger publications will offer their list through a mailing list broker, so you’ll be referred to that firm.

1. Magazine Publishers Mailing Lists

There are over 10,000 magazines published in the U.S.. Chances are good that you can get a magazine subscription subscriber mail list that goes straight to your perfectly targeted buyers. If you’re not sure what magazines would have the best mail list to reach your target market, there are some easy-to-use magazine directories found in the reference section of most libraries. (They’re online, too – but they’re subscription-only and pretty expensive!) You can read the magazine’s profile and see if their audience would make a good mail list for you to mail offers for your products.

The best directories of magazines are Bacon’s Directory of Magazines, and Oxbridge Communications Standard Periodical Directory. If you can’t find the exact targeted magazine filled with the eager-to-buy-your-product subscribers you are looking for in either of these directories, the publication doesn’t exist. You can find any industry and every single magazine that is sent to that industry – in under 10 minutes in these powerful directories. As a practicing marketer, I pretty much live in these directories.

2. Catalog Merchants Direct Marketing Mailing Lists

Catalog houses earn a good portion of their revenue from the sale of their list. Call the catalog house phone number and ask for their corporate business office, then ask who handles their mailing list sales. Almost all catalog houses sell their mail lists – it’s a big profit center than can account for as much as 20% of their revenues.

Catalogs can be found in The Directory of Mail Order Catalogs from Grey House Publishing ( This directory is an awesome publication and the best resource in the catalog industry. In each catalog description and write up, it gives the number of catalogs mailed, and name of the broker who handles list sales.

This is the first of two articles on mailing lists. In the

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