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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Basics Of Mailing Lists And How To Profit From Them

By Chris Channing

Mailing lists are useful for a business to find new sources of clients. But learning how to effectively use a consumer mailing list only comes through good experience and advice. In some cases, there may even be laws to follow in order to get the benefit of mailing lists without getting into different legal problems that may arise from using them incorrectly.

The basics of mailing lists are simple: most are classified by file type, whether they are opt-in or not, and what subject of data they hold. File type is especially important when working with large databases of client data, since it may or may not take special programs to read the data accurately. The most common format, the CSV file extension, is usually the easiest to handle and is easily transported.

An opt-in mailing list is always more valuable than the contrary. When we use the term "opt-in," we are saying that the email address had been verified through different means. This is important for only focusing on clients that are real and still contactable, which can prove to be quite the time-saver. Lists composed of opt-in subscribers are also usually safer on the legal side, given that the privacy policy states what is going to be done with the signup information.

There are some closely guarded secrets in the marketing industry with regards to mailing lists. There are certain ways to appeal to a possible customer that maximize the odds of getting a sale or commitment. This can range from writing certain email titles to attract attention, and avoid junk mail filters, to writing up targeted content to state in phone calls or in direct mail. There is a wealth of information on the subject in bookstores and online to investigate.

Some countries may be watchful on what is done with consumer data. It may be illegal to use a database for certain acts. Most of the risk should be dealt with by the seller, who should verify that all records are safe to contact. If one is a member of the Do Not Call Registry, for instance, they may be called and the business may suffer a detrimental loss in fines. As such, business should only be done with those who have been around, tested, and verified to be a good source of contact information.

The Internet is teeming with different lists, both new and old. A marketer's best bet would be to find the most updated list from the most respected resources. Just like with most services and products, sometimes the best recommendations will come from a coworker, friend, or family member. If all leads seem dry, try calling several resources and inquiring about their lists in question. Ask to see a sample of the database for confirmation of its prestige.

Final Thoughts

Consumer mailing lists are few and far between, so finding a good set of lists can be somewhat of a myth. Keep searching the Internet, stay within your legal bounds, and as many questions as possible to ensure your money won't be going to waste for your next marketing project.

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