FAQ for Mailing Lists, Email Lists, Direct Marketing from Hippo Direct
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Mailing Lists and Direct Mail Marketing FAQ
Why do lists have extra charges for extra selections?Greg Branstetter2022-09-14T16:52:25+00:00
In the early days of the mailing list business computer service bureaus had to make a separate “pass” through every record on a file for each list select used. This required more computer and staff time, and those additional costs were passed along to list owners and mailers. Today, most lists can easily be produced according to many different selection criteria. Selection charges are now more a “value-added premium” to be paid for reaching only certain, more desirable groups of names from a list.
Why are there minimum order charges for mailing lists?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T20:32:11+00:00
The minimum order concept goes back to the “old days” of the mailing list business, when most lists were stored offline on large mainframe computers. To process a list order, the computer service bureau technician had to load a mag tape, install the list on the mainframe computer, and then process the list order. With a 1000 name list order, a service bureau may use 20-30 minutes of computer/staff time and only earn $ 5. To cover their true labor costs, a “minimum order” charge was instituted and passed along to list owners and marketers. Computer technology has since lowered the cost of list production; however, we unfortunately now have an entire generation of list owners, brokers and managers who often think “it’s not worth their time” to accept list orders of less than 3000-5000 names.
What does $/M mean on a list’s price description?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T20:33:02+00:00
All mailing list prices are expressed as $/M, which is “dollars per thousand names”. As an example, a list price of $ 80/M means that list will cost you $ 80 per thousand names, or $ 400 for 5000 names.
SCF is abbreviation for Sectional Center Facility, which is a postal facility for metro areas. The SCF is first 3 digits of ZIP code. As an example, the SCFs for Cleveland, Ohio are 440-441. SCF is used to select regional/metro geographic areas when creating a mailing list.
What is an “nth select” or “random select” on a mailing list?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T20:34:01+00:00
It’s a method of selecting a portion of a mailing list in set numerical pattern, such as every fifth name or every tenth name, to produce an exact random quantity. The nth select is designed to produce a representative cross-section of a list.
Most list management software programs have a function which will automatically select the names at random based on desired x output quantity. If you can trade some statistical validity for simplicity, a quick way to do nth select from any list is to sort by 3rd letter of first or last name. Then export a copy of the first x number of records. Remember to make notes of the method used so that on future orders you can omit (avoid) the names previously provided. Or just use copy of your prior list to de-dupe from any future list creation.
What are “hotline names”, and why are they frequently the best part of a mailing list?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T20:34:30+00:00
Hotline means most recent, or “hottest responding” names. A 30 day hotline is names of new buyers/subscribers added to list in past 30 days. You’ll also see 60 day, 90 day and 6 month hotline. Some list owners also use hotline to describe past 12 months buyers, but that is not a true hotline. Other list owners call their hotlines a “recency select”.
Hotline names typically cost an additional $5/M to $15/M as they are the best responding and most valuable names on any list.
What are some good podcasts about mailing lists and direct marketing?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T20:35:30+00:00
Each record on a mailing list contains an individual’s name and mailing address; many also include company name and job title. The list can be provided as an ASCII comma-delimited or Excel file with each data element as a separate field (first name, last name, title, company name, address, city, state, zipcode.)
The standard list transaction is one where you purchase the right to mail to each name on the list “one-time”. This means that you’re “renting” use of the names, not “buying” them.
Each list owner must see a copy of your proposed mail piece and approve your use of their list. This is accomplished by providing a copy/draft of the mailing piece which you propose to send to the list. If you expect to split list into two or three segments and send different flyer/brochure to each group, we’ll need each sample for approvals. More than 95% of list requests are approved, but sometimes list owners reject requests that they deem too competitive.
Each list owner sets minimum order for their list, which is typically 5000 names. You can order less names, but must pay for amount equal to the minimum order quantity.
Mailing list pricing is typically shown for one-time use and expressed as dollars per thousand names. ($/M) Where flat rate pricing applies, it’s expressed as $/F.
The industry standard is that first-time mailers to any list are expected to pay for list prior to receiving the list. Subsequent uses of list will be invoiced to mailer with net 30 day terms.
All lists are seeded with decoy names so that the list owner can monitor how their list is being used, and quickly identify any unauthorized usage.
How you can avoid paying for names on list which duplicate with those on your list?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T21:51:23+00:00
A net name agreement means that a mailer pays for only those names on the rented list which do not appear on the mailer’s list. In list industry lingo, this means that mailer only pays for “net” names mailed (after merge-purge), not “gross” names provided.
The industry standard is known as an “85% net name”. Which means you’re going to pay for a minimum of 85% of the names provided, regardless of the amount used. If your actual names used is greater than 85% of names provided, then you pay for actual names used. If your actual names used is less than 85% of names provided, then you pay for 85% of names provided. The rationale for this 85% figure is that very few lists have more than 15% duplication versus other lists.
The other component of net name pricing is the “running charge on unused names”. This is a modest charge, usually $ 10 per thousand names or less, on unused names which were provided to you. This charge helps the list owner cover their out-of-pocket processing costs for those unused names.
In our example, the net name agreement would be expressed as “85% net with a $ 10/M running charge”.
Most list owners will provide net name pricing on orders of 50,000 names or more. Net name pricing must be requested at time of order, not after the fact. For some lists, another way to get net name deals on smaller orders is for the mailer to commit to rent a specific quantity of names on annual basis.
When you have a net name agreement, your list broker must provide the list owner with computer verification from your mail house of the names used and duplicate names vs. other lists. Without verification, you are still charged for the full amount of names provided.
Another simpler option to pay for only the net names mailed is on reuses of mailing lists. With prior approval from the list owner, you can send another mailing to names previously mailed, and pay for only the actual quantity mailed on the reuse.
Why do lists of professional association members work so well?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T23:28:33+00:00
One of the secrets of our clients’ success is the use of association membership lists wherever possible. Hippo Direct staff are expert at identifying those associations who make their member lists available for rent.
Reasons why association member list work so well:
Associations keep their lists very clean. Associations are constantly sending newsletters, magazines, email messages and promotional materials to their members. Many of these mailings are first-class, which result in quick change-of-address corrections.
Members of an association are more interested than their non-member counterparts in learning how to improve their career. The more someone pays in membership dues, the more likely they are to be interested in products and services which will make them better at doing their job.
Most association lists are harder for list brokers and mailers to find, which leads to better results for those savvy mailers who are able to track down and mail to association members.
Why do some mailing list owners require Reciprocal Rental Agreements?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T21:53:47+00:00
The guiding marketing principle is “If my mailing list will work for your offers, then your mailing list will work for my offers.” Most list owners are also very reluctant — based on an expectation of mutual trust and fairness — to provide their list to someone who will not do the same in return. A written agreement provides a clear explanation of both parties’ commitment to a “reciprocal” list relationship.
What are your guidelines for placing a postal mailing list order?Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T23:29:10+00:00
We need the following from you at time of your postal mailing list order:
List selection details, including keycodes (if needed).
Your purchase order number and/or your job code number (if applicable).
Your “Need By Date” and Estimated Mail Date.
Email address where list should be sent. List will be ASCII comma-delimited or Excel file which easily imports into any software program.
Copy/draft of the actual mail piece which you’ll be sending. We must submit this sample mail piece to list owner with order for approval.
Most list owners require prepayment from all first-time users of their list. We’ve become expert at minimizing delays from this prepayment requirement. Here’s how: We order your list ASAP; then while list owner is approving usage and processing list for you we send invoice to you; your list order is then sent to you once payment is received by Hippo Direct via check or credit card.
Email Lists and Email Marketing FAQ
What types of email lists can I buy? What’s the difference between the 3 types of email lists?Greg Branstetter2022-09-14T16:55:31+00:00
Email lists are the fastest growing source of new mailing lists. But all these email lists are not the same. You need to know the differences re list quality, pricing, and expected response from these types of email lists which you can purchase:
Buyers/Subscribers Email Lists
These are email addresses of people who bought something online; or who bought something via traditional mail, and supplied their email address and permission to send them promotional email messages. Email lists with detailed demographics (like those found on postal mailing lists) are slowly emerging on the market. The main reason for delay is that traditional list owners are reluctant to spend the time and money to get their customers’ email addresses AND their customers’ permission to receive promotional email messages. Because of spamming and privacy concerns, many traditional list owners will never make their customer email lists available. So far, most email lists in this category are from controlled circulation publications.
Website Visitors Email Lists
Most of the largest email lists contain people who have registered with a website, or subscribed to a free online information service. These people have given their permission to receive email from the list’s owner, and are thus “opt-in” names. However, these people haven’t necessarily spent money to purchase anything from the email list owner.
There’s wide variation between the quality of these types of lists, and your ability to target people by demographic or purchase details. You should work with an experienced list broker to guide you to the proper email lists.
These lists come from data overlays, membership directories, or other forms of compilation. These lists typically have not “opted-in” to the list owner; and frequently don’t have any type of online purchase history. Avoid mailing to these lists unless you’re committed to consistent, repeat usage and lead cultivation – and are using an email transmittal service which specializes in these types of lists.
What are “Open rates” and “Click through rates?”Greg Branstetter2022-09-12T23:32:14+00:00
For email marketing campaigns, “open rate” describes how many people open the email message for viewing; while “click through rate” refers to how many people click on a specific URL link in the email message. Open rate tracking is only available on html messages; click through rate tracking is available on both text and html messages.
What do you need to place my order for an email list transmit?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T14:57:42+00:00
Whenever you’re ready to order, tell us which names you want from the list, and what quantity desired. Then send us the following:
Your message copy as both .html and .txt files.
Subject line for your message
Desired date and time of your transmit
Email addresses of others at your company who should receive copy of actual message as it’s transmitted
List of your opt-out email addresses (unsubscribes) which you want to suppress from the rented email list
After we’ve received all these items, we will order list and get your confirmed transmit date. Next, test messages will be sent to you for your approval. After test messages are approved, your message copy will be set for transmittal.
Then, two business days after transmit, you’ll receive a tracking report which shows the number of messages transmitted, and number opened, and number of clicks on each link in your message.
In meantime, a couple of items re the CAN SPAM law to consider while creating your messages:
* Message must include opt-out link to your company (list owner will also include opt-out link…the law says both advertiser and list owner must provide opt-out)
* The message must include your postal address. Most clients place this information at the bottom of their message in smaller font size. Here’s an example of how opt-out info should appear:
1 Main St
Beverly Hills CA 90210
If you prefer not to receive emails from XYZ Company, send note to email@example.com
Why are email messages so visually boring? Why can’t we use the fancy backgrounds which we do on brochures and flyers?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T14:59:44+00:00
Email marketing is a medium of clarity and responsiveness, not graphic appeal. Your words and simple images do the selling, not elaborate borders, shading, and colored backgrounds.
There are several factors which can prevent email messages from being delivered; and sending a large message file with detailed background images is exactly the wrong thing to do. In addition to causing most of the messages to be delivered to junk folders, a detailed background image will take seemingly forever to load on mobile devices and lead to greatly reduced open rates. (Typically 30% to 50% of those who view a message do so on a mobile device.)
What are some good podcasts about email lists and email marketing?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T15:00:43+00:00
Whenever you use Excel to create a mailing list make sure that you define the ZIP code field correctly, rather than having Excel automatically define field as a “number” field. If not, the leading zeroes drop off records.
If field isn’t correctly defined, zip code 00988 will become 988 and zip code 02222 becomes 2222. And none of your mail pieces whose zip codes begin with a 0 will be properly delivered.
To fix the problem:
In your Excel spreadsheet…
a. highlight the entire ZIP code column, including column description
b. click Format from commands at top of screen
c. click Cells
d. click Special
e. click Zip Code
f. click OK
What’s the simplest way to split a full name into first name and last name for personalization?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T15:17:13+00:00
Go to https://www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm and define your desired radius in miles as step 1. Then enter your ZIP code in box as Step 2. Next click the “Draw Radius” button. Then hold down as you scroll down to the “Combined” area and copy all of the data in that box. Open a new Excel worksheet into which you add the copied data. Then highlight your data and use “Text to Column” function to split ZIP codes into their own column.
Where can I find SCFs for the largest SMSAs?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T15:24:57+00:00
The first letter of a Canadian postal code identifies a province, or
part of a province:
A = Newfoundland
B = Nova Scotia
C = Prince Edward Island
E = New Brunswick
G = Eastern Quebec
H = Metro Montreal
J = Western Quebec
K = Eastern Ontario
L = Central Ontario
M = Metro Toronto
N = Southwestern Ontario
P = Northern Ontario
R = Manitoba
S = Saskatchewan
T = Alberta
V = British Columbia
X = Northwest Territories
Y = Yukon Territory
In the second position (the first number), a 0 indicates that the postal
code is for a whole post office, usually indicated for rural communities.
The 6th character (last number) is also usually a 0 in such cases (as
in L0M 1S0). All addresses for the community have that postal code,
whether these are rural routes, postal boxes or in some cases, smaller
towns with letter carrier routes.
Other numbers for the 2nd position indicate the postal code is in a larger
urban community with letter carrier service. The postal code is thus precise
enough to identify street blocks, particular rural routes or groups of
Canadian postal codes are always separated into two blocks of three characters.
The first three characters are the Forward Sortation Area (FSA), an
“area code” used to identify a district. The last three characters thus
identify the block, postal box set, or post office within the FSA.
Some special Canadian FSAs: K1A is for federal government activities in Ottawa;
M7A represents the Ontario provincial government, G1A represents the
Quebec provincial government.
Working with Hippo Direct as Your List Expert FAQ
What’s the difference between a List Broker and a List Manager?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T15:29:58+00:00
The traditional role of List Broker is now more accurately described as List Acquisition Expert. In our role as List Broker, Hippo Direct works on your behalf as a no-cost member of your marketing staff. We will research and recommend lists that should work best for your various marketing campaigns. We can also work with you to develop a mailing strategy and to negotiate special terms with List Owners. After you place an order with Hippo Direct as your List Broker, we take full responsibility for making sure that the proper list gets to the proper place on time. We will track list order shipping status and “troubleshoot” any potential problems.
A List Manager works on behalf of the List Owner as a surrogate “Sales Department”. List Managers actively promote their lists to marketers and list brokers for possible use. List Managers handle all production, fulfillment, and accounting details for their Owners’ lists. List Managers are responsible for the maintenance and updating of lists, and recommend strategies to improve a List Owner’s revenues.
How much does it cost to use the services of a list broker like Hippo Direct?Greg Branstetter2022-09-13T15:30:41+00:00
Zero. A list broker earns a commission which is given by the list’s owner. You will pay the same price for a list whether you order it directly from the list’s owner, or via a list broker such as Hippo Direct. Which makes it a great deal to use list brokers. List brokers can navigate easily through the list selection and ordering process. More importantly, you get free list recommendations and marketing advice.