Direct Mailers Face International Challenges
"For Internarnational mailing, you have to take everything you know about direct mail and throw it out," says Howard Krawitz, president of Davis Direct WorldWide, Woodinville, WA (www.davisdirect.com). "The only consistency is that everything will be inconsistent."
Don't, however, let the obstacles dissuade you from targeting foreign markets, which can be largely untapped and lucrative, warns Krawitz. Other countries are quite eager for U.S. goods and services, as response rates reflect. "The domestic companies that typically get about a 1 percent response rate here in the States often see 3 to 5 percent or more in the international arena," notes Krawitz.
The first issue that direct-mail publishers must address before "going global" is identifying a target audience. This is not often as easy as it is here in the States, says Steve Roberts, president of Edith Roman Associates, Pearl River, NY.
"U.S. list brokers are not all trained in compiling international lists, so if you're going to work with an international list, you really should work with an international list broker," Roberts suggests.
There are three types of international mailing lists, according to Krawitz: regional, multinational and American-generated lists. The least effective, he contends, are the American-generated lists, because they are typically compiled by U.S. mailers that may not be familiar with international addressing and postal codes.
The multinational list is often sold by companies mailing from the U.S. to a number of countries. The problem with this type, Krawitz says, is that you may purchase a list that has only 20 subscribers within one given country on the list. Obviously, that limits the exposure you're likely to gain.
Krawitz suggests the regional list as the best option for U.S. mailers. This type has been compiled within the targeted country, has been formatted with local postal considerations in mind and offers verified addresses, which cut down on the amount of undeliverable mail.