Seeding A Distribution List

October 8, 2009

One of the most important elements in any direct-mail marketing effort is delivery and turnaround time. Even if you're using a vendor to send out your mail or e-mail message, there's no need to rely on that second party to report how and when your marketing message hits. A great way to determine the delivery date and condition of your promotion is to seed your distribution list with names, addresses and locations of your friends, colleagues or any other willing participant. This way you can have a handful of pieces go to people you know, and they can report the actual delivery date of the piece and other details such as what condition the printed mailer arrived in or whether the e-mail looked jumbled, which can help you to evaluate your method of delivery and how it may have positively or negatively affected your efforts. Keep these quick tips in mind when seeding your mailing lists: 1. Consider each region For mailings it's important to include seed names in all the different postal regions you've covered in your campaign. If you sent out a postcard that reaches coast-to-coast, or even into Canada, try to include seeds in every geographical area the list spans so you can measure how long it takes to send promotions to different areas. 2. Keep your seeds mysterious You can't use your own name as a seed. A smart vendor will recognize your name and may give your sample special treatment, such as getting it out the door before the others and making sure it's in perfect condition with no bends or smudges. Instead ask your friends and colleagues if they'll volunteer their home and business addresses for your tracking purposes. 3. Include all e-mail services When adding seeds to an e-mail list, be sure to incorporate all of the mainstream e-mail services. E-mail providers have varying SPAM filters and e-mail display settings and it's always good to know if your content got through to recipients in its intended format. What if it looked jumbled to AOL subscribers? What if it was caught by Gmail's SPAM filter. If you can't recruit actual contacts to participate as seeds on your e-mail list, you can always set up a fake address with each of the leading service providers to use in e-mail blasts.

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