Practical Advice to Generate Successful Campaigns Using Merged Lists


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You could end up with poor results when designing a direct mail campaign that combines your inhouse list with one or more rented lists. Merging lists generates a set of conditions that you may not have thought about at the conception stage. It is better to face the challenges before finalizing your design and strategy to avoid last minute alterations that so often occur. Once you determine your strategy, we strongly suggest you rent your lists early and work closely with the personnel handling your data processing.

Preview the lists before agreeing to rent.

Before renting lists, ask to see a sample of the output, not the field layouts, but actual samples of data. Watch for the following:

  • Field names. A field called “Title" does not contain the same information as “Position". Ensure the list contains the right level for contact.

  • Field content. Confirm you will capture all the information you need. The copy you create has to blend with the data for the target audience and personalization

  • Style of data entry. Some lists may cause you grief (first name and last name in the same field, city and province in the same field, initials only in the first name field, missing name segments). Good data processing can repair most of these problems, but there will be records that cannot be amended and that will take away from the success of your campaign.

  • Consult with the personnel handling your data processing and ask them how they can work with the data to generate variables and personalization.

  • Look for quality of input. Abbreviations in titles or company names make extra work for the data department.

    Rent more names than you need You will have duplicates when all your lists are merged and depending on your sources you may find up to a third of your names being duplicates.

    Run merge, purge and address correction early to determine your valid mailing quantity. This will avoid a last minute scramble to get more names and/or establish the right number to print.

    Code each file before merging After doing a duplicate check, the code will enable you to track responses as well as determine the rental source to get a refund on unused records.

    This report was written by Sasha Peters who has 16 years experience in the direct mail industry. She is the author of Smooth MAILING, a comprehensive guidebook for using Addressed Admail in Canada. Visit their website at for more information and learn how the new publication “Smooth Mailing" can help you! Tel: 604-729-1300 Email:

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