Direct Marketing Insights

What Does Direct Marketing Cost?

Setting a budget for your company’s direct marketing campaigns

The key benefit of direct marketing is that you are marketing directly to prospects within your target market, as opposed to trying to market to everyone and hoping for the best. For this reason alone, direct marketing is an extremely cost effective way to market your product or services.

For the purpose of this article we will be talking about direct mail, telemarketing and email marketing. With direct mail, you can mail out a simple letter, a colourful postcard or small package with a sample of your product. Telemarketing allows you to speak directly to your prospects and inform them of your product or service. An email campaign can be as simple or elaborate as you want, providing your prospects with quick links to your website.

You can also try to do all three! The key to marketing is repetition.  By reaching out to your prospects using different marketing methods, you strengthen your initial message. This also gives your prospects a variety of ways to respond, which will improve response rates.

Of course, the costs associated with each direct marketing method will vary for each form. Regardless of the form you choose, there are a few things to think about when setting a budget for your direct marketing campaign.

The first cost is going to be the list you use. Unfortunately, there is no absolute cost to a direct marketing list. Your list cost is going to vary based on what type (mail vs telemarketing vs email) of list it is, how many records are on the list, what data elements it contains (how targeted it is) and how it was sourced (compiled, subscriber, direct source, etc). There is also variance in costs from one list owner to another as their compilation methods vary as well as cost and procedure involved in maintaining the accuracy of the data

Based on list type, a mailing list is usually cheaper than a telemarketing list as it’s just a name and mailing address. A telemarketing list will have name, mailing address as well as a phone number. The extra cost for the telemarketing list is the extra element of the phone number.

An email list than has name, mailing address and email address will normally also be more than a simple mailing lists. There are email lists that contain just name and email address, and these tend be cheaper. Depending on what kind of marketing campaign you are planning, you might want to steer clear of these email lists as the sourcing of this information might not be entirely reliable.

The more records on a direct marketing list, the cheaper the cost per record. For example, you may pay $.05 per record when purchasing a mailing list with 5,000 names. That same list could cost $.02 per records if you purchase 1,000,000 names. This is because list owners will offer volume discounts.

List owners also impose list minimums. If the number of records falls under their minimum, they will charge a flat rate. This means if they charge $250 for a minimum thousand records, and you only want 500 records, you will still have to pay the $250 minimum.

If you want more targeted lists, or specialty lists, these will cost a bit more. In general, the more data elements, the greater the cost. A simple list of females in Seattle is going to cost less than a list of female nurses in Seattle with a good credit rating who own cats. Although a finely targeted list may cost more, they should perform better than a broadly targeted list. You will have to determine if the added cost is worth the improved response rates.

After the cost of the list, the next expense will be the delivery of your message.

If you choose to send your message out by direct mail, you will have to take the cost of printing and postage into account. By using postcards instead of envelopes, you can almost cut your postage rate in half. If you purchase a large enough mailing list. you can mail out en masse, allowing you to qualify for bulk rates.

If you decide to use telemarketing, the size of your telemarketing list will help determine the cost of your campaign. If your list has only 1,000 names you can probably call the list yourself, keeping the telemarketing campaign in house, which will obviously keep the costs down. If you are working with a large telemarketing list, you might want to consider contacting a call center. A single caller at a call center typically makes around 100 calls per 4-hour shift. Of course you’ll have to pay for the service.

The costs associated with an email marketing campaign are probably some of the lowest. You will have two options, you can either purchase an email list and send the emails out yourself or you can have the list owner deploy the list on your behalf. The size and the frequency of the emails should help you decide which option is best for you. If you plan on emailing to the list very frequently, it would be more cost effective to send them out yourself. However, if you plan on sending out to a large list you might want the list owner to send out the emails on your behalf as they have dedicated servers that are whitelisted allowing for better deliverability.

As mentioned before, there is no straight answer to what a direct marketing campaign is going to cost. It’s like going to a car lot and asking what a car costs. There are many variables that go into the cost of a car – year, make, model, etc. It is the same is with direct marketing. The best advice is to find a knowledgeable list broker who can explain all of these options and help figure out the best direct marketing campaign that will work for you. List brokers don’t charge for their services and will know which is the most cost effective method of direct marketing for your product or service.

Common Target Markets

A target market is the group of people you want market your product or service to. Location, income, age, and occupation are just a few of the demographics that can make up a target market. The key is finding the perfect group to market to. If you try to reach out to a broad target market, you risk marketing to the wrong people. Not everyone is going to be interested in your product or service. If your target market is too defined, you may end up handicapping your marketing campaign by not reaching enough people. You need to find the perfect balance.

Target by Age

Categories include households with newborns, toddlers, tweens, millennials, adults, baby boomers, seniors. etc. You can target whatever age group you want to. Just be aware that if you are going to market to minors, it will be the parent of the minor you will need to be addressing.

Target by Geography

Geographic options include markets such as countries, states/provinces, cities, zip codes/postal codes, counties and neighborhoods. Whether you are marketing your product or service to a small local area or nationwide, targeting your campaign geographically will significantly increase results.

Target by Income/Net Worth

People across different incomes have different needs and different budgets. Perhaps you want to only sell a few items but charge a lot for them, or maybe you want to sell a lot of items at a low price. You might target consumers by their annual incomes, by their net worth or even the value of their home.

Target by Marital Status/Family Makeup

Some households have big families; some have small ones. Some are married; some are divorced. Some have young children or multi generations living with them; some are single consumers living alone. Each household has different needs.

More Targets

There are many so more targets to market to. Other segments include travelers, risk-takers, home owners, renters, car owners, brides, students and computer owners. You can also chose a segment according to education level, ethnicity or occupation. The possibilities are endless. You have to ask yourself who is most likely to buy from you.

With the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target market is more important than ever. No one can afford to target everyone. By targeting their direct marketing campaign correctly, small businesses can effectively compete with large companies.

Targeting a specific market allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

With a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your product or services. Which target market is right for you?

Do’s and Don’ts of Cold Calling

You’ve just purchased a targeted telemarketing list. Now what?

Now your sales representatives begin cold calling that list. Cold calling can be very effective, but all too often, the sale is hindered by poor cold calling etiquette. As a result, prospects are turned off by the sales call, instead of being interested in your product.

If you want your telemarketing list to live up to its full potential, try to educate your sales representatives and make sure they don’t commit any of these cold calling mistakes.

Don’t Center the Conversation on You

Don’t begin the conversation by telling them what you do and what you can offer; this tactic usually results in the prospect shutting down the conversation before they have even participated in it.

Do Focus on Your Prospect

What is important to them? What problems or issues would they like to solve? Let them guide the conversation. People aren’t really interested in hearing about the lives of perfect strangers, particularly when this comes in the form of a cold call. Use the cold call as a way to learn more about your prospect rather than pushing your product.

Don’t Assume Your Product Is the Perfect Solution

No matter how great your product is, no product is the perfect solution for everybody. Don’t begin a cold call asserting your solution will solve your prospect’s problems. You don’t know what their problems are yet, let alone whether you will be able to solve them. Don’t make the decision for them without allowing them to go through that decision-making process with you.

Do Let Your Prospect Come to That Conclusion on Their Own

Let them evaluate the entire situation for themselves and then reach a conclusion with you. This collaborative approach will establish a much better relationship between you and your prospect. It is more convincing and organic feeling.

Don’t Solely Focus on Making the Sale

Never go into a cold call with the sole goal of making a sale. Prospects can tell when your agenda is self-serving and this will put them on the defensive immediately. Pushing too hard right off the bat will almost always result in rejection.

Do Focus on Relationship Building

Try to establish a relationship and gain their trust rather than pushing your prospect to buy on the first call. Even if this means following up a few times. Remember these are not existing customers, you have no existing relationship with them, and they have no reason to trust you.

Don’t Try to Overcome All Concerns

There will be some prospects that will have doubts or concerns about what you are trying to sell. Some of these you will be able to work around, while others may be entirely justified. Accept the fact that you may need to let some go. As mentioned earlier, no product can be right for everyone. Don’t waste your time on prospects whose concerns are too big to overcome.

Do Try to Address the Smaller Concerns

Sometimes addressing the smaller concerns can prompt prospects to tell you about what they’re really worried about. Or perhaps you will find out there was a misunderstanding about your product and this will allow you to further clarify.

The golden rule of cold calling is to avoid pressuring prospects. Remember you are speaking to actual people, treat them how you would like to be treated. Any attempt at pressure or manipulation is going to result in a big “I’m not interested”.

If you avoid these common cold calling mistakes, your prospects will be much more receptive to your message, and you will most likely see a higher ROI on your telemarketing list as a result.

What is a List Broker?

Every business owner, big or small, should know the importance of direct marketing. Marketing directly to a certain group of consumers or businesses is extremely effective. The key is to find the right list of consumers or businesses to market to. Having the right list means the difference between a successful direct marketing campaign and a disappointing one. A List Broker can help!

But how can you be sure of buying the right list? There are so many different kinds of lists out there; where does one start? If you find a bunch of lists yourself that all look the same, how can you distinguish which list is right? How do you know if the list will meet your needs or if the list manager is reputable? That’s why many business owners choose to work with independent list brokers.

If you’re already working directly with a list company, you may be reluctant to consider a broker. But remember that the list company’s sales people only represent their own lists, and although you may have a great relationship, their job is to keep you from purchasing lists they don’t represent. There could be alternatives that they can’t or won’t suggest because their company simply doesn’t offer them.

On the other hand, a list broker is someone who acts as a go between for businesses and the list owner/managers. Once you contact a list broker and let them know what you need, they will search and find the best lists for your consideration. They should know what the product you’re promoting is and who you want to reach and how you want to reach them, what geography you want to target, your budget and your time frame, etc. In order to suggest the best possible lists for your direct marketing campaign, the list broker should have a complete understanding of your needs.

Brokers typically have access to tens of thousands of direct marketing lists, and can quickly find several list options for you to consider. Remember, you do not have to pay for the services of a list broker; the broker will share their knowledge free of charge with the expectation you will order your lists through them. A good broker will try to educate you whether you decide to buy from them or not.

A veteran list broker with years of experience will know the list industry inside and out, and should be able to guide you away from lists you should avoid. They will offer you more list choices than you would be able to find yourself, they ask the list managers the questions that you wouldn’t know to ask such as: when was the list last updated, how often is it updated, where does the info come from, what the accuracy guarantee.

Sometimes their creativity can result in recommending list alternatives you never knew existed. A list broker knows the procedures and processes of the various companies that offer direct marketing lists, and can streamline the time-consuming list acquisition process (ordering, tracking, shipping, billing, etc.)

If you are not sure which list broker to contact, check with other business connections to see who they are using. And don’t be afraid to ask for references. A good list broker should have a solid reputation in the industry with hundreds of regular customers. If you hear good things about one particular list broker from lots of different people, look up him or her. There’s nothing like good old fashioned word of mouth referral.

Finding a good list broker is an important part of a successful direct marketing campaign. Cultivating a long-term relationship with a list broker can be a valuable use of time and marketing dollars.

Direct Mail Today

There’s no denying it, the Internet has radically changed the way businesses market themselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean direct mail has become obsolete. Business owners can still reach out to prospects and generate sales using direct mail marketing.

In this, the digital age, the vast majority of business owners are trying their luck with digital marketing strategies such as SEM, SEO and social media. This means there`s less competition at the mail box, which is allowing direct mail marketing to shine. Instead of competing with hundreds of emails or search ads, you only have to compete with bills and unaddressed, untargeted junk mail.

But in order to grab your prospect’s attention and get them to execute your call to action, it is important to plan your direct mail campaign carefully. Fortunately, it creating an effective mail strategy doesn’t have to be hard.

Get the Right List

The key to any direct mail campaign’s success lies in selecting the right list. It`s not going to matter how amazing the piece is if it`s not going to the people. Whether you decide to research your mail list options personally or engage the services of a list broker, it`s important to be know who you target market is. The more specific you can be, the greater the response is going to be.

Go Old School

Most direct mail marketers use printed labels or envelopes with printed addresses when sending direct mail pieces. It might be cheaper and faster, but there`s a greater chance that your pieces will end up being tossed. In this day and age, getting a hand addressed piece of mail is unusual. If you take the time to handwrite the envelopes, your prospects are going to want to know what’s inside.

Most prospects won’t throw away a hand-addressed letter without opening it. If you`re going to spend the time and effort to actually handwrite an envelope, they are going to at least spend the time and effort to open it.

Personalization is Key

If you walk into a meeting and are handed a stack of papers just like everyone else, do you feel special? Of course not.

Now, if the attendant addressed you by name, and your name was on those papers, you may feel far more important. That’s what variable printing allows. You can also use variable printing to insert the prospect’s name, location, and other data into the body of the letter.

This extra step of personalization makes prospects feel more special – and if you can make your customers feel more special, you’re already more than halfway to the sale!

Pay Attention to the Layout

Here are some easy tips for layout:

  • Use a font large enough to make it easy to read. Big, important messages and points should be larger than other details.
  • Don’t use big paragraphs of text. Break it up into small sections. People don’t read long letters, but skim them for information.
  • Use a bulleted list, just like this. People are naturally attracted to reading bullets, so highlight the most important points here.
  • Use images, but not too many. You don’t want there to be so many images that the prospect is only looking at the pictures.
  • Feel free to use highlighting and handwritten notes in the margin. This drastically improves readership, as it feels more personal.

Go Digital

Digital marketing isn’t going anywhere, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows you to provide additional information about your business and gives prospects more ways to get in contact with you. Make sure your mail piece has your website and email address on it. You can even include your social media contacts. For an easy way to direct prospects to your website, try using QR Codes.


Don’t give up after one shot. You could have a wonderful design, great copy, and a solid offer, but be mailing at the wrong time. Maybe you`re targeting the wrong market. You should be constantly tweaking and testing to see what works best for you. Test variations on lists, design and timing to find out what works.

By using these simple strategies, you can create a direct mail campaign that will interest and engage your prospects. As you test and refine your marketing mailers, you can turn a higher percentage of your prospects into satisfied customers.

Right Target Market for Your Business

It’s easy to market to everyone, but doing so will seldom get you the results you are looking for. The majority of consumers or businesses out there have no interest in what you have to sell. You need to take an objective look at your product and your current clientele so you are able to determine who you should be targeting your marketing efforts on. In order for your direct marketing campaign to be successful, you need to establish your target market.

The first step in determining your target market is to understand exactly why your prospective customer would be looking for your product. Ask yourself what problem does your product solve? Also ask yourself what type of person would be willing to pay for your product as a solution to their problem.

When determining your target market, your own experience and knowledge can sometimes muddle your idea of what an ideal customer is. It’s best to let research lead the way and take assumptions out of the equation. By looking at the statistics of who has already bought from you, you can help narrow down your target market. Look for trends in geography, gender, age group, financial status and interests. All of these criteria can help you piece together a picture of your ideal customer.

The marketing strategy that proved to be your biggest money maker can also give you an insight to who your target market is and how you should be marketing to them. Do you sell more products in-store or online? Are most of your customers local or global? Answering questions like these can show you who your loyal customers are and how to best sell to them.

Evaluating your competition and their marketing strategies can help you define your own target market. Of course you don’t want to copy their marketing tactics exactly, but looking at how they market and who they seem to be marketing to will give you an idea of your industry’s ideal customer.

As you delve deeper into determining your target market, you need to determine whether or not you can effectively reach those people. Study your target demographic and their purchasing patterns. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, also look into your target market’s geographic location. You can use this information to determine if the people that live closest to your store are the same people who want to buy from you. If you are solely operating online, learning about your potential customers’ shopping habits can help you reach those customers.

As your business grows, so should your marketing. Over time you may have to redefine your target market and change how you market to them. You need to consider if the direct marketing methods you’re using now will still be effective later on down the line. You also may decide to expand your current target market, include other newly discover prospect groups. If you want to grow your business you constantly need to be working your marketing plan.

The best way to succeed at selling your products is to market directly to those who are genuinely interested. Once you figure out who your customers are, what they need and how they shop, you will have a good idea of whom you should be focusing your marketing efforts on. By arming yourself with as much information about your ideal customer as you can, you can push your sales rates over the top.

Smart Marketing during the Holiday Season

The holiday season is just around the corner and many businesses are winding down their marketing efforts, deciding to pick things up in the New Year. Now is the perfect time to reach out to current clients and new prospects with a holiday themed mail piece.

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy receiving cards in the mail. They tell us that someone is thinking about us and add to the sense of joy during the holidays. Many people have their cards on display throughout their homes and places of business, presented on the fireplace mantel or strung across windows. Why not have one of your personalized holiday cards added into the mix of holiday decorations.

Whether you are B2C or B2B, if you aren’t doing so already, send out festive cards printed with your logo to your current clientele. A simple card is the perfect way to show your appreciation to your clients, and your vendors as well. Everyone enjoys receiving a traditional holiday card and your small token of thanks will be repaid by having that card displayed for all to see.

Now is also the perfect time to introduce yourself to prospective clients. Many businesses may be able to make a powerful and personal impact this year, with a simple Season Greetings and business card.

Be sure to have your logo printed somewhere on the card, but not to big. You want the festiveness of the card to be the focal point, so it will be put on display. Your logo is the secondary focal point, so you will be remembered.

You don’t want the card to be a full on advertisement for your business or services. Then it becomes no different than a promotional pamphlet or postcard, and will go unnoticed amongst the holiday joviality. If you have marketing material you want to present, stuff it inside the card. You can include a pamphlet advertising your business or include a New Year’s promotion. You can take it one step further and include a small gift, like a branded pen or something similar. You may be surprised how far a small gift can go!

Remember, massive amounts of mail get sent over the Christmas period and in the process many items get lost or delivered late. The earlier you get it out the more chance you have of it being opened and put on display.

Below are the list of shipping deadlines for Canada Post and USPS.

holiday direct mail dealines

Postal deadlines for the 2014 holiday season

Importance of Target Marketing

Direct marketing should invoke customer involvement, not irritation.

The purpose behind direct marketing is to build a healthy engagement with your prospect. It’s always nice when a direct marketing campaign results in a hard sale, but if they aren’t ready to make the purchase, it’s important to engage your prospect with some really good content so that when they are ready, they will think of you.

Direct marketing is a direct way of communicating with your prospect. You are talking directly to them, rather than to everyone in the general vicinity. Hence the name DIRECT marketing.

The worry that a lot of marketers feel is that if it’s not done the right way, direct marketing can be seen as simply junk mail and spam. It can be more annoying than informative and that’s not the desired effect. Direct marketing needs to be attractively and professionally packaged so that the prospect feels involved and informed..

The best way to accomplish this is through target marketing. This will insure your prospect gets relevant information, based on their interests or expertise, that they can actually use. If you are a non-profit organization – try a list of donors; if you are selling residential solar panels – try a list of eco-friendly homeowners, if you are an agency representing a high end resort – try a list of high end travel buffs, etc. With tens of thousands of direct marketing lists on the market, there’s no shortage of possibilities. The important questions to ask yourself is “who is my ideal client? And why?”

For example: we had a contractor ask for a mailing list of home owners in a certain area. Their direct marketing plan was to do a mailing to everyone within a certain geography. One of our list brokers asked to know what services they were trying to market. The answer was ‘renovations’ and ‘home building’. Those are two completely different targets. Someone interested in renovations would normally be a homeowner with an older home within a certain income bracket. Someone interested in building their own home would normally be someone with the income to be able to afford it, regardless if they were already a homeowner or not.  Doing a blanket mailing to everyone in the area would not be effective. Doing two separate mailings to each target market with a slightly different mail piece customized to each was the smart marketing move.

This is why it’s really important to define who your ideal target market is. The best way to do this is to look at your current clientele and search for commonalities. This will allow you to create a profile or profiles of your best target markets. The more you know about your current customers, the better you are able to define where and who you to reach out to.

There are certain stigmas associated with direct marketing and it’s essential to really think about who you want to be targeting and why. This will ensure that your direct marketing effort are encouraging customer involvement and not irritation.

Canada’s new anti-spam law

Touted as one of the aggressive and strict anti-spam laws in the world, Canada’s CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) is slated to come into full effect July 01, 2014. If you are planning an email or sms/text campaign in Canada, you should make sure you are clearly versed with the new regulations. Even organizations located outside of Canada who send messages to computers or smart phones within Canada will need to be CASL compliant.


And the fines are steep—up to $10 million per violation, and companies that intentionally mislead recipients with false sender information could potentially face criminal charges.

While the US CAN-SPAM Act uses opt-out consent (i.e., using an unsubscribe mechanism), CASL requires “opt-in” consent. Businesses will need expressed consent even if they already have an existing business relationship. The legislation covers messages to email addresses and text messages sent to cell phones.


To stay compliant, businesses will have to identify themselves in their messages and clearly express the recipient’s opt-in and opt-out options. All messaging has to be transparent and clearly represent the product or service being promoted. As well, the message has to be relevant and applicable to the recipient.

How does CASL affect third party e-mails? Under the new regulations, consent to receive third-party emails is only valid if recipients can unsubscribe from the message and alert the original organization that they’ve withdrawn their consent. If this happens, the original organization must notify each third-party that consent has been withdrawn and to remove the address.

CASL is being implemented so that consumers can control who can send them commercial emails. This has some businesses worried that this spells the beginning of the end for their email marketing efforts in Canada.

Not so.

Any legitimate business sending out emails is going to want to provide clear and concise information about their company and what it is they are offering. As for obtaining consent and being relevant, there’s not much point in emailing someone who has no interest in receiving your messages so it would make sense for businesses to want their email lists to be compliant.

CASL is supposed to deter ‘spammers’. We’ll just have to wait and see if the legislation is effective in that aspect. As for businesses genuinely trying to market to consumers, the new legislation is going to mean that they are going to have to be a little more diligent in making sure their databases are up to date and compliant, that their messages are clear and have the proper contact info and that their campaigns are more targeted. All of which is just going to aid in the effectiveness of their email campaigns and make them more successful.

Increase Click Rates

According to MailerMailer’s  13th Annual Email Marketing Metrics Report, . Messages with the most number of links (21+) received the highest click rate of 2.8%, while messages with the fewest number of links (1 to 5) received the lowest click rate of 1.2%

.click rates by links

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