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What is a Targeted Mailing List?

Updated May 16, 2024
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A targeted mailing list is a type of mailing list that is directed at a certain group of people based on some attribute they share, such as age, location or shopping patterns. A targeted mailing list has a number of applications, particularly in marketing and politics. By targeting an advertisement, marketing is aimed at those most likely to be interested while saving money by avoiding those who are not.

Targeted mailing lists can be used in a number of ways. A grocery store might want to advertise a special sale to frequent shoppers within a few miles of the store. It can create a list of shoppers in the same ZIP code who spent more than $100 last week. In politics, a candidate might want to send a mailing to voters in a county who are frequent voters. He could create a list of people in the same political party who voted in the last three elections.

Advertisers can get addresses for targeted mailing lists from several places. Some internal organizations have mailing lists, which can be sorted by particular desired attributes. A number of companies sell or rent their mailing lists to advertisers. Other possible sources of mailing list information include store records of previous sales, membership in organizations, or donations made to charities. That information can be collected in a database, where it can be sorted in almost any way imagineable. Targeting and identifying the right group of recipients is one key for making targeted mailing lists work.

A targeted mailing list can be more cost-effective than other ways of advertising. By contacting a specific group of people directly, an advertiser may avoid the cost of sending the ad to many people who will ignore it. It also helps marketers tailor their message to a specific group of people, making the ad more relevant and perhaps more likely to be read than a message simply sent to everyone. By advertising more effectively to smaller groups of people and by using services like bulk mail to lower costs, advertisers can achieve better results while saving money.

While targeted mailing lists are often created for mailing printed items, the same concept can be used for spreading a message by phone or email. Using email is particularly easy, as marketers can sort and create a list, write a mailing, and deliver it to recipients all from the same computer.

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Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Aug 01, 2012

I like being on certain stores' direct mail mailing lists. They know that I want to receive their ads and coupons, so they send them to me regularly.

There are two stores that do this for me. I have store credit card accounts with them, and they send me coupons so that I can save by using my card at the store.

They let me know whenever there is any sort of sale. More often than not, this mail has resulted in me going to the store and buying things. So, it benefits both parties.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 31, 2012

@JackWhack – They should give up after a few more months. Companies generally don't want to go on wasting money on mailing stuff to people who aren't ordering anything forever.

If I order anything, I do it online. I have gotten on some spam mailing lists this way, but they are pretty easy to get off of.

With email, you are almost always given the opportunity to unsubscribe from the list. It can take a few days for your request to go through, but once it does, you won't be getting any more unwanted emails.

By JackWhack — On Jul 30, 2012

@orangey03 – I think that I have become a victim of mailing list companies in this way, too. I ordered one book about how eating certain foods can cure your ailments, and I've been receiving offers to buy all kinds of quack books ever since.

It has been about two months since I ordered the book, and the mail just keeps on coming. There is no option to unsubscribe from the list or anything like that. I hate that they are wasting all that paper on me.

How long will it be before they stop sending me this stuff? It's annoying to get excited over seeing something in the mailbox, only to find it is more junk like this.

By orangey03 — On Jul 30, 2012

I have wound up on some weird targeted mailing lists in my life. Usually, this was because I bought one item as a gift for someone from a catalog that I normally would have no interest in looking at.

I once bought a Western style shirt for a friend who loved that style, and a few weeks later, I started receiving all kinds of catalogs for cowboys. I just threw them away.

Also, I ordered some tulip bulbs from a seed catalog once, and I suddenly started receiving all kinds of gardening catalogs. I even got some catalogs that were targeting farmers with large crops, and that struck me as strange.

By anon274692 — On Jun 13, 2012

How can we use targeted mailing to find jobs?

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