Rapid Response with Targeted Mailing Lists Since 1992

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?2022-09-14T16:52:25+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?2022-09-12T20:32:11+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?2022-09-12T20:33:02+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.

What is an SCF?2022-09-12T20:33:24+00:00

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?2022-09-12T20:34:01+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?2022-09-12T20:34:30+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?2022-09-12T20:35:30+00:00

We like these direct mail podcasts:

  • The Mailing List Show
  • Uncensored Direct Marketing
  • I Love Marketing
  • Postal Biz-Buzz
  • B2B Marketing Excellence
What are 7 Essentials Anyone Who Orders a Mailing List Should Know?2022-09-20T15:58:35+00:00
  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?2022-09-12T21:51:23+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?2022-09-12T23:28:33+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?2022-09-12T21:53:47+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?2022-09-12T23:29:10+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

Tools for Direct Marketers FAQ

Where can I find a listing of all SIC codes?2022-09-13T15:17:30+00:00

Search SIC codes by keywords or numbers at:

How can I convert SIC codes to NAICS codes, and vice versa?2022-09-13T15:17:24+00:00

Here’s a great tool for comparing SIC and NAICS codes:

Where can I find a listing of all ZIP codes within a City, State, and County?2022-09-13T15:17:19+00:00

Find all of the ZIP codes in a City or County at:

Find the range of ZIP codes in each state at:

Find all ZIP codes in a state at:

What’s an easy fix for dropped zeroes on ZIP codes in Excel files?2022-09-13T15:08:43+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?2022-09-13T15:17:13+00:00

See great tutorial to split first and last names into separate columns on an Excel file at:

How can I find all of the cities that are in a ZIP code?2022-09-13T15:17:06+00:00

Go to https://tools.usps.com/zip-code-lookup.htm?citybyzipcode then enter your desired ZIP code and click “Find” to see listing of all cities which are part of the ZIP code.

How can I find all of the ZIP codes that are in a city?2022-09-13T15:17:02+00:00

Go to https://tools.usps.com/zip-code-lookup.htm?bycitystate then enter your city and state and click “Find” to see listing of all the ZIP codes which are part of the city.

How can I find all of the ZIP codes within radius of a location?2022-09-13T15:16:54+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?2022-09-13T15:24:57+00:00
How can I discover who owns a website domain?2022-09-13T15:25:41+00:00

You can learn who owns any website domain at:

Where can I find a listing of all Canadian postal code definitions?2022-09-13T15:27:52+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
postal boxes.

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?2022-09-13T15:29:58+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?2022-09-13T15:30:41+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.

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