Home  ›  Blog  ›  Direct Mail  ›  Direct Mail Lists: Acquisition vs. Retention Lists
Throughout this series, we’ve referenced the 40-40-20 Marketing Rule of direct marketing where 40% of your efforts involve your offer, 40% your list and 20% your creative. In this post, we will focus on the middle 40%: your audience.

What Are Direct Mail Lists?

A direct mail list contains a targeted list of names for you to contact through direct mail.Understanding the types of direct mail lists available and how to use lists to target your audience can better help you reach the right audience for your business or organization.

Types of Direct Mail Lists

The type of list you use depends on your business objective. Are you seeking to acquire new customers or donors, or are you seeking to maintain or enhance a relationship with current customers? Let’s look at the two main types of direct mail lists: acquisition and retention lists.

Acquisition Lists

Acquisition lists are used for prospecting or acquiring new customers or donors. They are also known as prospecting lists, and are typically rented through a mailing list broker or other resources that helps you find the best lists to meet your goals. You can rent or buy an acquisition list for your direct mail project, although lists for purchase can be expensive. When selecting an acquisition list, it is important to define the audience in terms of demographics and behavioral data.

There are two types of acquisition lists:

  • Compiled – A compiled list consists of contacts from large databases that have been collected from outside sources, such as phone books or credit files. While compiled lists can be segmented by age, gender or income, they are commonly used for mass marketing, especially when budgets are limited.
  • Response – Response lists, also called managed lists, are comprised of consumers who have responded with their information through the purchase or inquiry of a specific product or service (e.g., memberships, subscriptions). Response lists are more expensive to rent than compiled lists because they are more highly targeted, and consequently, often exhibit better response rates.

Tip: While e-mail marketers wouldn’t use an acquisition list for prospecting, it is standard for direct mailers.

Retention Lists

retention list graphic

Retention lists are internal lists owned by your company or organization, also known as house lists. Your database may include current and inactive customers or donors, or leads that haven’t yet made a purchase or donation. Perhaps because they involve a higher level of familiarity with your brand from previous contact, house lists generate higher response rates than compiled and response acquisition lists.

Did You Know? 54% of consumers say they want direct mail from brands that interest them.

Download Our White Paper

Download our “Targeting and Lists” white paper from our Direct Mail Basics series for more details and tips on direct mail list know-how for your next mailing.

Contact Us

The experts at Tension can help you design a mailpiece that speaks to your specific audience. Contact us today to start the conversation.