What Your Target Audience is Doing is More Important Than Who They Are
As a list broker, it is always funny when I get a phone call from a new potential client who knows exactly who they want to target via direct mail. Of course the client knows who their target audience is; that would be expected for anyone owning a business with a product or service to sell. It is the “how” that is the funny part.
The demographic breakdown is just one aspect of the target audience. It seems like age would be important, just like income, but with direct mail marketing, what the prospective customer is doing is much more important than any of these other factors. Demographics come second to behavior, psychographics, and prior purchase history when selecting mailing lists for a direct marketing campaign.
Basically, no matter who your potential customer is, the historical action they typically take is more of a sign of whether or not they will respond to your offer, as this behavior shows a “strong likelihood of interest” for your product or service; this is exponentially more important than the other stuff. List compilers have put many mailers out of business selling this “garbage” data for real targeted direct marketers that need great behavioral data to succeed.
Say you are selling a dietary supplement and your ideal target is women aged 27+ with children in the household. But imagine if you could mail women that have entered a weight loss program via a direct mail promotion and have paid $49.95 within the last month to do so. Doesn’t that sound better? It should. What about a business opportunity product? Typically, your customer is a male who lives in an apartment with under $45,000 for yearly income. Will that be good enough to target? No, not when you can get a person who received a postcard in the mail offering a business opportunity and they just called an 800 number and paid for this business opportunity via a credit card. And to top it off, the list broker you are using also has intel that this particular list is a great performer for offers for home businesses—offers just like yours!
What if your product is an investment newsletter offer? You determine to target a male audience, maybe aged 55+ because your newsletter is for the retirement years, and they should have a house worth more than $500,000. While that may sound like a good start, I would rather find a list of people who have bought a book titled Enjoy Your Retirement Years after receiving a piece in the mail detailing some tips on how to invest wisely in your 50s. With all of these scenarios, you are now taking into consideration the possible consumer’s previous action via the mailbox, the similarity of offers, the call to action, and the method of payment, rather than just the demographics.
List brokers are free, so use someone like Macromark, who knows your marketplace, which targeted mailing lists work for your product, which are cleaned, which are updated, and which use similar mailpieces when prospecting. Also use someone that is familiar with how targeted mailing lists in your category work. Are they buyers, or just responders or survey filler-outers? Do they take an action? Did they spend money? Let your direct mail list broker do what he knows. It is not all about demographics; prior behavioral action or purchase history in the mail drives the sale and targeted direct mail lists are what make the post office deliver!