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Save Money Mailing to the Right List

Nov 01, 2012

Mailing List 101: Consumer v. Occupant, and Why It Matters for You


At least a few times a week we get a call from a customer wondering what the difference is between the consumer mailing list and the occupant mailing list, which are both available from We'll take the opportunity to answer the question here, and to share one customer's story that proves how the decision really depends on the kind of business you have - and how targeted your list needs to be.


The customer in this case runs a day care center out of her home. Her current clients are families with young children who live within her neighborhood. In October, she had several of her kids move away, so she wanted to advertise those two open slots. She went to the Click2Mail Mailing List Center and pulled an occupant list, which was about $12.50 per thousand records. Then she pulled a consumer list, which was about $30.00 per thousand records. She couldn't decide which was better, so she called us.


Occupant list v. consumer list: which is better?

To determine whether you're better off with an occupant list or consumer list, you first need to ask: Who is your target audience? Occupant lists don't have many segmentation options ,and your mail is addressed simply to "Occupant" (rather than to an individual by name). Consumer lists, in contrast, can be segmented by a wide variety of demographic criteria.


For a targeted audience, consumer lists win

In this case, the customer's target audience was families with children ages 0-12 who live within a two-mile radius of her home. The occupant list included all 6,426 residential addresses within the two-mile radius. Total cost for all addresses was $80 plus $5,783 for a jumbo postcard mailing. The consumer list included 1,799 addresses with children ages 0-12 in the same two-mile radius. Total cost for all addresses was $54 plus $1,727 for the postcard mailing.


So while the occupant list looked less expensive ($12.50 per thousand records compared to $30) it would have ended up being far more expensive for our customer to mail to that list, because she would have been mailing to 4,627 addresses that were not in her target audience (they don't have children, or the children are too old for daycare). So this is a perfect example of a case where segmenting a consumer list allows you to more effectively and less expensively target your audience.


But occupant lists have their place too

The consumer list was far better for the customer with a day care center because she was targeting a relatively small subset of the entire population in an area (those with young kids). But some local business target all or nearly all addresses in an area, and for them occupant lists or Every Door Direct Mail (which also mails to every address) make a lot of sense.


Imagine, for example, a local restaurant. They have happy hour every night, but they also have "early bird" specials on Sundays and "family time!" specials all day Saturday. So their target audience is really anyone within a given radius (say, five miles or so). Because they don't have any demographics targets, an occupant list that hits every residential mailbox within that radius makes the most sense.


If you need help deciding which mailing list is right for you, we're happy to walk you through the process. Remember, we want your direct mail campaign to be a success. Give us a call at 866-665-2787. Our Customer Support experts are standing by Mon-Fri, 9AM to 8PM Eastern Time.