In a world where we rely more and more on the Internet, a direct mail marketing campaign can help to differentiate your business from its competitors. Direct mail can often be a welcome change from the many emails that companies regularly receive.

Mail that is both branded and aesthetically appealing is more likely to be remembered; it’s something tangible that will capture your audience’s attention and help you to build valuable business relationships. Therefore, it is an effective vehicle for your marketing messages.

However, in order to reap these benefits, you need to have the relevant data for the organisations that you are seeking to connect with. A B2B data provider can supply you with direct mailing lists that will enable you to forge a path that will take you to the customers you’re seeking.

But before you enter into a partnership with a data provider, there are a few pertinent questions you should ask.

Where do you get your data from?

You need to know where the data you are being given is sourced from – and that these sources can be verified. If your provider is unable to disclose this information, that should be an indication that something is not quite right – and, under no circumstances, should you do business with them. It’s simply not worth taking a risk on uncorroborated data.

The data that you do use should have been acquired fairly and lawfully and must comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA). If a business asks to be taken off your mailing list, it is vital that you comply with their request.

Many reputable data providers will also be registered with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). As part of their membership, they are expected to adhere to the DMA Code, which sets the standards of ethical conduct and best practice for all forms of direct marketing.

How accurate is your data?

With any data, there is always going to be a margin of error – it’s part of life. However, if you’re paying for data, you want to ensure it is of as high a quality as possible and is regularly reviewed. For example, are all the records included correct? Even the smallest of spelling mistakes could mean that your mail doesn’t reach its intended recipients, thereby wasting your time and resources.

You should also seek assurance that the data is frequently updated. Businesses change premises, and people leave roles or take on new ones, for instance, so it’s important that your provider doesn’t miss a beat.

Can you provide data that targets the right people?

It’s all very well having verified and accurate data but it’s important to make sure that it’s the “right” data too. After all, “junk mail” is simply direct mail that has been sent to uninterested parties; people who don’t need your product or service.

Direct mail that is sent to the right people and delivers the right message is far more likely to deliver a successful return on investment because they are more likely to find it useful and valuable. A good provider will work closely with you to create targeted data lists that hone in on your ideal customers. As a result, you can rest assured that your marketing messages will answer the questions and alleviate the pain of those you are addressing.

What’s your deliverability rate/guarantees?

It’s unlikely that you will ever achieve a 100 per cent deliverability rate as the variables are too numerous. But your provider should have deliverability guarantees in place that demonstrate your direct mail will get to its intended recipients the majority of the time.

Direct mail can be a breath of fresh air for businesses that are used to receiving marketing messages online – provided that the postperson’s delivery resonates with them. One well-thought-out piece of direct mail can make more of an impact than multiple emails.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have the right data so that your carefully crafted marketing messages can hit their marks. A mailing list provider can help you to acquire what you need, bringing many benefits to your business.