Understanding Counts When You Buy a Mailing List

When you buy a mailing list, there are many factors that you need to consider—what demographics you want to include, what geographic area, and other things that help you target the list.

One of the terms you’ll see again and again is “count.” Some of our clients see count used and wonder where it factors into the equation when they’re buying a mailing list.

So we’re revealing the mystery of count.

List count is a term we use in the industry—the list brokers and mail houses—to refer to the number of prospect names in a mailing list that match a client’s criteria.

That doesn’t sound very mysterious when you say it like that. And it’s not really. But it’s important for you to understand what the count is and why it matters when you’re buying a mailing list.

When you select your criteria, the list broker will come back with every name in the database that meets that criteria. This is your count.

What happens, though, if you’ve crunched the numbers and know you need to send out 10,000 pieces to get the return you want, but the count is 7,500? Or what if the count is 20,000 and you only have the budget for a 10,000 piece mailing?

You need to work on the list criteria. If your count isn’t high enough, you may need to expand your search, which you can do by using the “find your market segment” feature when you build your list. For example, you could expand the geographic range of the mailing, or tweak one of the demographic criteria. If the count is too high, you can narrow the search by adding some additional demographic criteria to get the count where you need it to be.

This is where working with an experienced list broker can help you—they’ll not only get you the best list, they’ll save you time (after all, they know the data and how to get the results you need). And this will result in a more successful direct mail campaign for you.


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