Direct Mail

Buy Mailing List: The Definitive Guide to Buying Mailing List and Costs

By 27 March 2024April 15th, 2024No Comments
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Listing Down the Secrets to Buy Mailing List For a Successful Campaign

70% of customers feel that direct mail items are more personal than digital communications. Also, direct mail can attract open rates of up to 90%. Isn’t it incredible how traditional mail is still thriving in the marketing industry?

That being said, direct mail marketing needs a lot of your time, investment, and hard work. But, don’t worry; you can save time and reduce costs by taking care of a few things.

saturated mailing

To start with, you must understand that various aspects of a direct mail campaign affect its costs. Design, printing, mail formats, mailing lists, postage, etc., are the most crucial factors that can make or break your marketing plans.

According to the 40/40/20 rule by marketing expert Ed Meyers, 40% of a campaign’s success comes from mailing lists. Therefore, try compiling lists that allow you to reach relevant prospects accurately and speedily.

Today, we will discuss how to buy a mailing list and the factors that impact its cost.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about direct mailing lists!

What Are Direct Mailing Lists?

A direct mailing list consists of the names and delivery addresses of a company’s potential customers. Some mailing lists also have other details like email addresses and phone numbers.

Many people think that direct mailing lists and email lists are the same thing. But, email lists only contain email addresses and cannot be used for physical mailings. Hence, its scope is limited to conducting an email marketing campaign only.

However, direct mailing lists help you reach your prospects personally. It allows you to send printed marketing materials to people’s physical mailboxes and seek more attention than emails.

But, marketers should try getting list pricing quotes from several brokers to get lists at the lowest rates possible. Alternatively, they can also build their own mailing lists by combining their in-house data sources.

Steps to Compile In-House Mailing Lists

Every business has loads of contacts that can prove helpful in building a well-updated and effective mailing list. Thus, it is advisable to use your in-house database to its full potential before you opt to purchase mailing lists from third parties.

Below, we have mentioned the steps you can undertake to compile an in-house mailing list:

Step 1: Identify Your Target Markets

Companies should first answer questions, like:

  • Which type of customers benefits the most from your products and services?
  • Who is your target audience, and what are its common characteristics?
  • What is the age group, income level, gender, etc., of your prospects? 

Your primary motive should be to determine your target audience with the help of such details. These are the people who will contribute most to your sales levels.

Try customizing mailing lists in a way that helps companies reach their prospects easily. If you are unsure of your target markets, look at your current customers’ profiles and use the common traits for reference.

You can also ask your existing customers to complete a survey that allows you to know more about them. For example, include questions about their occupation, age, preferences, location, age groups, etc.

Once you collect such information, it becomes possible for you to target your customer look-alikes and expand your reach. 

Step 2: Try to Pull Details From Your CRM

You may have a list of customers who were active buyers in the past but switched to other brands later on. Also, you may know some prospects that showed interest in your products but did not complete their transactions. 

You should first send direct mail to such customers as they are hot targets and more likely to convert. 

Many marketers think it is necessary to buy consumer lists for their mailing campaigns. So they start looking for fresh leads and forget the ones they already have.

Instead, it is advisable to reconnect with existing contacts in your CRM and compile targeted mailing lists. 

Step 3: Segment and Categorize Your Lists

Once you compile an in-house mailing list, it is time to segment them into different groups. For example, you can divide your lists according to ZIP codes for location-based marketing. Or, you can segment them according to age levels which enables you to appeal to every group individually. 

This way, you can customize your campaigns and increase response levels. In addition, it helps you ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and conduct targeted mailing campaigns that can drive conversions.

Step 4: Verify and Send

Your last and most crucial step is to verify your mailing lists. Sometimes, most records in your database are outdated. There are thousands of businesses that close down and people who move to other locations every year. Hence, you need to verify the accuracy of your lists before launching your marketing campaigns.

Many companies find it hard to validate their lists as it takes a lot of effort and time. A database also has other issues, like missing details, misspellings, standardization errors, etc.

If you want to skip completing the above steps, you can rent or buy mailing lists for sale. You may have to spend a little extra, but you get access to highly segmented and updated mailing lists in exchange.

Another option for you is to use PostGrid’s address verification API which can help you validate your lists in minutes. 

Our address verification solutions offer several other benefits, such as:

CASS-verified Addresses

PostGrid is CASS-certified and uses the USPS database to validate your lists. Thus, you can ensure that all your mail items reach their destinations in a timely and precise manner. 


The USPS offers several postal discounts if you presort your items and add Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMBs) to them. It is a highly complex process, but PostGrid can help you presort your mailpieces hassle-free.

NCOA Processing

Around 40 million Americans move every year, making it necessary to update your lists from time to time. Thus, PostGrid’s address verification software and API process your mailing list using the NCOA data files.

So, you can find out which of your prospects moved and reach them at their new addresses without going through any extra trouble.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Mailing List?

In short, the average cost of mailing lists containing residential records is $30 per 1,000 records. The rates for commercial mailing lists are higher and cost you $46 for the same quantity. However, these are only estimates and an average of the current mailing lists in the market. 

Different vendors may offer different rates for the same mailing lists. It depends on their data sources and several other factors discussed below.

Factors that Affect the Mailing List Costs

The mailing list costs vary significantly, depending on usage terms, quality, deliverability, etc. Below we have explained these factors in detail so that you can make the right choice:


Quality is perhaps the most crucial factor in deciding the mailing list costs. The better the quality of your list, the higher are the prices. 

Naturally, mailing list compilers and brokers charge higher rates for a mailing list with more trusted records to ensure your campaign success. 

A good mailing list compiler typically updates all the information in their mailing lists every 30 days. Unfortunately, some of these details are hard to obtain, resulting in the compilers charging more for them.

For example, it is not hard to get a list of all the households in a specific ZIP code that earn between $30,000 to $40,000 per year. Moreover, this type of demographic information is publicly available for free. Hence, you can easily contact any mailing list provider in your area and buy ZIP code mailing lists

In contrast, suppose you need a mailing list of all the people in your city who are lactose intolerant. In this case, the cost per record is very high as the information you need is sensitive and not freely available. Your broker may have to connect with top-notch data sources to pull such lists.

Thus, your costs can increase considerably depending on the number of filters or parameters you use within your list.

Usage Terms

Always inquire about the usage terms of your lists before buying them. For example, some mailing list companies allow single-use access, wherein you can only mail the prospects in a list once. However, some brokers let you use the mailing lists multiple times according to your campaign plans. 

Here, keep in mind that data is never a static factor. There are always some updates, and you may be unable to use the same list twice. Thus, it does not make sense to buy addresses for marketing with unlimited access.

But, if you are in a static industry, you can go ahead and buy such lists as they allow you to run long-term, ongoing campaigns.

Additional Information

Often, your mailing lists only contain the prospects' names, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. Hence, you cannot connect with them via online channels like email and social media. 

Thus, businesses can ask their mailing list providers to add additional details to their lists. For example, imagine you are a B2B company. In that case, you can ask your broker to add information, like the number of employees within every company or their annual turnover. 

But, be careful while asking for such details as they can take your costs through the roof and exhaust your budget. 


Another factor to look out for is the deliverability of your lists based on the USPS National Deliverability Index. Sure, no mailing list has a 100% deliverability score, but you should buy one that at least has a 95% rate. 

Basically, this score helps you understand how many of your mail items might be returned to you. Suppose you conduct a mailing campaign using a list with 80% deliverability. Only 8,000 out of your 10,000 mail items will be delivered in this scenario. The remaining 2,000 pieces may or may not be delivered and will likely be returned to you. 

Hence, choose a provider that ensures your lists are at least 95% accurate and deliverable. 

Renting Vs. Buying Lists

Before deciding where to buy targeted mailing lists, consider your requirements and budget. More importantly, you should determine if you want to rent or purchase mailing lists

Buying mailing lists means that you get complete ownership of the lists. You can use these lists any number of times you want and for any campaign. There are no restrictions regarding the time frame or purpose of use. 

But, renting lists is a different story—you may get only one-time access and for a specified time. 

Minimum Order

Several brokers and compilers charge a flat rate per record. It means that their cost per address remains the same, irrespective of how many records you purchase. On the other hand, some brokers give you excellent discounts if you buy longer lists. Therefore, it makes more sense to purchase records in larger quantities. 

At the same time, ask your broker if they have any minimum order requirements. Not all brokers let you decide the number of records you need; you may have to buy a set minimum number of records. 


Most providers provide mailing lists in CSV, PDF, and Excel formats. You can inquire about this factor beforehand and avoid further compilation troubles. The format or structure of your mailing lists also affects the pricing to some extent. 

Remember that choosing a cheap mailing list can save upfront costs but cost your company thousands of dollars in profits. Thus, consider all the factors in-depth before you buy a mailing list from USPS or other sources.

Types of Mailing Lists

You may compile or buy local mailing lists of several different types, like birthday mailing lists, new homeowner mailing lists, B2B lists, etc. Below are the most commonly used mailing lists that can help you conduct successful campaigns:

Consumer Mailing Lists

Consumer mailing lists are those lists that contain the names and physical addresses of your prospects. In addition, these lists have the details of all customers who purchase products and services similar to yours.

Getting consumer mailing lists is a speedy and straightforward process—almost all brokers provide consumer lists at very reasonable rates. 

You can further segment consumer lists according to demographics or location. For example, if you want to get location-based mailing lists, you can select a county, city, or state. Otherwise, there are hundreds of demographic-related factors that you can use to categorize your lists. 

Find below the different factors that you can use to compile your mailing lists:

  • Credit rating
  • Income level
  • Qualifications
  • Interests, preferences, and hobbies
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Length of residence
  • Ongoing mortgage loans
  • Marital status
  • Number of children, etc.

Also Read: Best Marketing for Mortgage Brokers

For example, a luxury goods seller can target people with high incomes using segmented consumer mailing lists. Or, a college can reach out to prospects having children between the ages of 14 to 18. 

To help you understand better, we have mentioned some types of consumer mailing lists below:

Donors Lists

Buying mailing list marketing is daunting if you don’t know the type of people you want to target. Hence, as said earlier, determine your audience and target them. 

If you are a nonprofit or charitable organization, getting a donor list is your best bet. It has the names and delivery addresses of all the people that regularly donate to churches, charities, and other local communities. 

Targeting these people helps you reach the right prospects with the right message. You can also talk about their past donations and encourage them to donate to specific causes that may interest them. 

Pet Owner's Mailing Lists

Using a mailing list with the details of all pet owners in an area is the perfect example of laser-focused marketing. There is no confusion regarding who your prospects are, and you can customize your messages accordingly. 

Birthday Mailing Lists

Birthday mailing lists are helpful to almost all companies in every industry. Imagine you own a clothing store on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. You can benefit greatly from setting up a recurring campaign to mail all your prospects on their respective birthdays throughout the year. 

It makes your prospects feel appreciated and can create emotional bonds. Then, throw in a discount coupon along with your mail items to take your conversion rates even higher. 

Credit Cardholders Lists

All banks and insurance companies can use credit cardholder lists to determine the credit rating of their prospects and advertise their services. 

Business Mailing Lists

A business mailing list is helpful to B2B companies in various fields, such as finance, real estate, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, etc. It helps them access the contact details of key decision-makers of other companies. This way, B2B businesses can connect with their clients and personally talk about their products and services. 

They can buy business mailing lists from brokers or compilers with specific extra details like industry, net worth, etc. This information allows them to back up their account-based marketing activities and customize communications. 

It also helps them cut to the chase and connect with the concerned people within a company. 

There are other benefits of using commercial or business lists, like:

  • Improving brand image by sending timely updates. 
  • Introducing new products and services to clients. 
  • Strengthening client relationships by keeping in touch. 
  • Driving sales by sending personalized direct mail. 

You can buy B2B mailing lists to broaden your reach and engage with more and more business accounts. But, these lists cost way more than B2C or business-to-consumer mailing lists. 

Still, you can keep costs under control by using PostGrid’s direct mail services that don’t charge anything extra for list compilation. 

New Homeowner and Mover Mailing Lists

Did you know that new homeowners spend around $9,700 on products for their new house within the first six months? Also, 80% of movers redeem offer coupons from brands before, during, and after moving. 

These statistics make it evident that you have better chances to convert leads that have newly shifted from a different place. 

New homeowners and movers are the best buy mailing lists as they actively look for services around them. They are also actively shopping for furniture, home appliances, carpentry tools, etc. 

It is the perfect opportunity for businesses to introduce themselves and welcome their prospects to the neighborhood. Ideally, you should start mailing new movers and homeowners during their first week and continue the same for up to 2 months. 

This way, you can beat the competition and reach your prospects before anyone else does. So, if your prospect needs to use services or buy items similar to your offerings, they are likely to contact you first. 

Don’t forget to personalize your mailpieces to make your target audience feel special. Even adding a person’s first name makes your items more attention-grabbing and appealing to your audience. 

You can further segment your new home buyer mailing lists according to gender, income level, profession, etc. Hence, you can channel your efforts in the right direction and make the most out of your campaigns. 

Here are some examples of local home services and other businesses that can benefit from these types of lists:

  • Gardeners
  • House cleaners
  • Curtain dyers
  • Carpenters
  • AC contractors
  • Plumbers
  • Furniture shops
  • Painters
  • Doctors and dentists
  • Interior decorators
  • Restaurants
  • Coaching centers
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Churches, etc.

It is not essential to conduct large-scale, high-budget direct mail campaigns. Instead, you can buy a segmented mailing list, customize your message, and target only your most relevant prospects. 

Also, you can choose from various direct mail formats, like marketing postcards and letters. There are also different sizes and finishing options that you can select according to your budget and marketing goals. 

If you need any help, PostGrid enables you to print and mail postcards speedily and affordably! You can also select different sizes and envelope styles to send letters via our letter API. Moreover, PostGrid also offers custom mailing lists to help you target any audience you want.

Saturation Mailing Lists

Several businesses buy mailing lists by ZIP codes to conduct saturated campaigns. These campaigns help them increase visibility by targeting people in a specific area. 

Saturation mailing lists go by many names, like residential mailing lists, household mailing lists, EDDM mailing lists, etc. The concept behind saturation mailing is to reach every household in specific localities. You can choose to mail all homes or businesses in an area or both. 

Suppose you open a food truck and want to drive it to Nevada City next week. In this case, you can avail of a saturation mailing list and target all the people living around your place of business. This way, everyone will already know about your trip and line up to buy from you. 

Undoubtedly, such lists work great for location-specific businesses, like retail stores, supermarkets, restaurants, boutiques, and other offline shops. 

Saturation mailing lists are more difficult to segment based on demographics than other mailing lists. This is why saturation lists are cheaper than other kinds of mailing lists. 

Consider conducting an Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) campaign if you don't want to buy targeted mailing lists. EDDM allows you to launch a direct mail campaign without any mailing lists.

All you have to do is select specific neighborhoods, carrier routes, or ZIP codes that you wish to target. The USPS then delivers your items to every address in those localities, enabling you to improve your reputation and increase conversion rates.

Response Lists

Response lists consist of details about people who have responded to specific events through some channel. They might be customers who previously bought products and services similar to your brand’s offerings. Or, these might be people who expressed interest in your offers during the past months or years. 

Thus, response lists contain hot leads that can help you increase engagement and conversion ratios. They are similar to consumer lists but might cost more sometimes, depending on quality. 

Compiled Mailing Lists

Compiled mailing lists consider several factors and are also known as cold mailing lists. They are pulled from different sources, like telemarketing firms, publicly available address databases, survey companies, etc. 

These mailing lists consist of contacts who are unaware of your brand and have never heard from you. Thus, generating leads and getting responses from compiled lists is challenging. But, on the contrary, response lists can help accelerate your conversions and increase brand awareness.

Mailing List Brokers Vs. Compilers

At PostGrid, we get several questions, like where do I buy mailing lists?

Understanding the difference between brokers and compilers will help you determine the best place to buy mailing lists.

Though they both help you get mailing lists, the way they operate is very different. Mail list brokers are your most reliable option to buy mailing lists. They enable you to access mailing lists from a diverse network of data sources at minimal rates.

Also, they can help you buy specialty lists that are highly segmented and unique. Thus, you can avoid mailing to the same old lists that your competitors have used.

List brokers help you get mailing lists that suit your needs and fit your budget limitations. But, please note that brokers may charge an additional brokerage fee over and above the mailing list rates for acting as a middleman.

All list brokers offer almost the same rates for different mailing lists. However, there are minor pricing variations, depending on the list quality, volume, and accuracy level.

However, the rates offered by list compilers differ significantly. It is because they are the ones that directly access the sources and compile the lists. Hence, they charge according to all the effort and time they put into building a list.

List compilers can over-value or under-value a list based on the reliability and quality of their sources.

Apart from brokers and compilers, managers also offer mailing list services. They are called list managers and ensure the mailing lists under their control are updated at all times. Often, they also act as middlemen between compilers and businesses (customers).

But, some managers are also list compilers responsible for building and selling their own lists. Like compilers, they can also charge different rates for mailing lists at their own discretion.

Therefore, if you want to get lists at reasonable and predictable prices, it is better to contact a broker.

Sources of Information Helpful in Compiling Mailing Lists

If you are wondering where to get free residential mailing lists, here are a few sources for you:

  • Online purchases
  • In-store and digital shopping behavior
  • Questionnaires
  • Self-reported information
  • Subscriptions to newsletters, emails, etc.
  • Memberships
  • Tax data
  • Census data
  • New home loans, etc.

We understand that getting your hands on some of these sources is impossible. At this point, mailing list brokers come in. They can help you purchase address lists compiled from hundreds of sources for a fee.

You can contact different brokers and communicate your needs to them. This way, you can avail yourself of specialty lists that suit your marketing objectives and help you achieve your desired results. 

Also, some brokers can hook you up with highly cheap mailing lists that allow you to keep your costs low. But remember that most of these lists are outdated and of low quality. Therefore, buying such mailing lists can be more harmful than good as they are useless to your campaign. 

You may either need to verify these lists using your in-house resources or end up using your own lists. Thus, make sure to connect with more than one broker and get an idea of all the mailing list prices before buying anything.

How PostGrid’s Direct Mail Services Can Help You Build Targeted Mailing Lists

PostGrid helps companies build mailing lists from scratch according to their target demographics. You can select which age group, geographic area, etc., you need to target, and PostGrid helps you compile lists based on these factors. 

Our other features are also equally helpful in conducting productive direct mail campaigns. Below, we have listed some of them to give you an idea of how PostGrid works:

Design Eye-Catching Mail Items

Don’t have artwork ready for your campaign? No worries! PostGrid offers several professionally-built HTML templates to help you out with your mail design. You can select one, add your customizations, and you are ready to go.

You may add your brand logo, personalized texts, and offers according to your needs. Also, there are no additional charges for using these templates.

Printing Items in High-Quality

PostGrid has numerous printing partners all over the US. They are experts in their field and can offer top-notch printing and finishing services.

You can select the paper stock and coating for your items. PostGrid ensures that your mailpieces are created and printed in just two business days.

Per-Piece Tracking

Often, when you send mail in bulk, it becomes hard to track every item on the USPS website. Sometimes, you may struggle to manage all the tracking numbers and view the delivery details in small batches.

Thus, PostGrid offers per-piece tracking for all your sent items. You can see the delivery statuses by logging into your account and navigating the dashboard.

On that note, sign up now if you haven’t created a PostGrid account yet!

99.99% Deliverability

Yes, you can get a deliverability rate of 99.99% with PostGrid. Also, our print and mail partners assure that your mail items reach their destination on time and without issues.

Also, it means that you no longer need to deal with lost mail and returns, hence reducing wastage levels.

Campaign Reports and Insights

It is incredibly crucial to measure your campaign performance and draft timely reports. But, it needs you to use several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and track every response generated from a campaign.

Luckily, PostGrid does that for you and helps you access periodic reports and campaign analytics. 

24 x 7 Customer Support

If you face any issues regarding PostGrid’s API integration or software setup, you can contact us at any time. PostGrid offers dedicated customer support and onboarding to help you throughout the process. 

HIPAA, PIPEDA, and SOC-II Compliance

PostGrid always prioritizes data privacy so that our customers can print and mail confidently and securely. We are compliant with all laws relating to customer security, like HIPAA, PIPEDA, and SOC-II. 

Also read: The laws regarding direct mail marketing.


Mailing lists are a crucial part of all direct mail marketing campaigns. They help you conduct relevant campaigns and increase response ratios. Also, they enable you to keep your costs under check as you need not conduct large-scale generic mailings.

With highly targeted mailing lists, you can ensure that your activities are streamlined towards a common goal- improving ROI.

We understand that compiling a mailing list and launching a campaign can be overwhelming. Hence, PostGrid offers all-in-one direct mail services to assist you from start to finish.

From designing your items to tracking results, our API is capable of handling it all on your behalf!

Read our other direct mail-related guides to know more about how PostGrid makes your job easier and helps you achieve better results:

For more, Talk to our Support to purchase mailing list and give your direct mail campaign a boost with PostGrid!

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