What’s the Difference Between a Mailing List and a Marketing List?

There are so many words and phrases that you can use when talking about marketing, but one of the most basic definitions is the difference between a mailing list and marketing list. The definitions of these two lists can seem pretty similar at first, but when you delve a little deeper you’ll find that there are key differences between them.

Mailing List

A mailing list is a list of people or companies that you’ve opted to hear from regularly about new products and offers. In practical terms, you can think of a mailing list as a more traditional form of email marketing. A mailing list is usually considered to be a low-priority marketing activity because it’s so easy to get wrong. For example, if you mail everyone on your list at the same time, you’ll probably end up with a lot of people who aren’t interested in your product/service and a few who are keen. To keep your list limited to people who really want to hear about your products, you need to take the time to segment your list and send out emails at various times throughout the year. If you send out a bunch of emails at once, you run the risk of annoying and/or confusin your subscribers — not to mention that you’ll hit the spam folder.

One of the key differences between a mailing list and a marketing list is that a mailing list is usually considered an inactive list while a marketing list is live and used for the express purpose of marketing. Let’s say you’re the owner of a clothing store and you want to get the word out about your store. You probably have a mailing list of people who’ve expressed interest in your product, but it’s not active — it hasn’t been used for marketing yet. To turn it into an active list, you’ll want to use a marketing tool such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Marketing List

A marketing list is similar to a marketing email list, but it’s more akin to an email marketing list. A marketing list is different from a mailing list in that it’s usually considered an active list and is used for the purpose of marketing. When you get a new list of customers or potential customers, you can use these emails to send out mass marketing emails or to follow up with those who didn’t convert to sales — in other words, you use the list for marketing. A marketing list is usually considered a high-priority marketing activity because you’re using a tool specifically designed for this purpose (email marketing) and you want to make sure that you get your message out there to as many people as possible.

You can also think of a marketing list as a more modern form of direct marketing. Rather than relying on traditional forms of advertising like billboards or magazines, online marketing allows you to target groups of people who are potentially interested in your product and to communicate with them directly. Using a tool like ConvertKit, you can create a marketing list of people who’ve expressed interest in your product and then use email marketing to send out personalized messages to all of them. Depending on how you set it up, your marketing list can function more like an A/B test or an email newsletter — it’s up to you.

Segmented List

Segmented lists are one of the mainstays of modern marketing. A segmented list is basically just an email list that’s been divided into various categories or segments. For example, you might have a list of people who’ve expressed interest in your product but you want to target messages specifically to men or to millennials. A segmented list makes it easy to send out targeted messages — rather than having one email address for the whole list, you can now have one email address for each segment.

Segmented lists are more effective than a non-segmented list because you can target specific groups of people who’ve expressed interest in your product. Let’s say you sell skincare products and you want to get the word out about a new face cream that’s coming out soon. You might have a mailing list with tens of thousands of addresses on it, but if you segment that list into various demographic and interest groups, you can target specific groups of people with skincare-related emails.

Key Differences Between Mailing List and Marketing List

There are several important differences between a mailing list and a marketing list. The first and most obvious is that one is live and the other is inactive. A marketing list usually has a much longer lifespan than a mailing list. That being said, a marketing list is much easier to create and much more effective (in terms of generating sales) than a mailing list. The second key difference is that a marketing list is used for the purpose of marketing while a mailing list is usually considered an inactive list. Those are the two main differences between a mailing list and a marketing list, but there are also several other subtle differences.

Here are some of the other differences:

  • A marketing list is usually kept current while a mailing list gets old over time. That can make updating the former more convenient when compared to the latter.
  • Marketing lists are generally considered to be more effective than mailing lists when it comes to getting the word out about new products or services. That’s because it’s much easier to target groups of people who’ve expressed an interest in your product rather than just sending messages to everyone on a list.
  • While marketing lists usually have a longer lifespan than mailing lists, it’s not always desirable to keep sending out updates to a list that’s become obsolete. That’s why it’s sometimes better to just delete a marketing list when you’re no longer sending out communications to the list. Deleting a marketing list is much easier than trying to keep an inactive list alive.
  • While mailing lists are usually kept private, marketing lists can and often are published online with minimal privacy concerns. Simply because it’s considered to be a more targeted and less spammy approach.
  • Marketing lists are used for the purpose of marketing while mailing lists are usually considered an organic traffic source or a source of cheap subscribers. That means that you don’t necessarily need to have marketing lists in order to have a successful email marketing campaign — you can use your regular email list for marketing purposes.
  • While marketing lists are usually considered valuable, it’s often the case that they don’t generate as much revenue as regular email lists. That’s because it’s easier to target groups of people who’ve expressed interest in your product rather than just relying on your regular email list to find your customers.
  • While a marketing list is usually updated with the goal of selling a product or service, mailing lists are usually kept more basic — especially when compared to a marketing list. That’s because it’s usually considered to be a more cost-effective approach to keep information about your subscribers.
  • You can’t measure the success of a mailing list — at least not in any traditional way. You can measure the success of a marketing list because you have a clear goal in mind when creating the list.
  • Marketing lists are usually more expensive than mailing lists because you have to purchase a tool specifically designed for this purpose. That being said, the cost of maintaining a marketing list is almost always less than the cost of maintaining a mailing list. Because it’s easier to get started with than a mailing list, the cost of entry is usually less as well.
  • Depending on how you want to use it, a marketing list can become a powerful tool. For example, you can use an interest-based marketing list to follow up with people who’ve expressed an interest in your product. You can also create a marketing list of those who’ve liked your product and then use that to follow up with potential customers. You can even create multiple marketing lists based on different criteria and then use email marketing to target specific groups of people with tailored messages.
  • While the list above alludes to the fact that a marketing list is usually considered a higher-priority marketing tool, it’s not always the case that more money and effort should go into creating a marketing list. Sometimes it’s enough to simply create a mailing list and use it for the purpose of sending out occasional promotional or informational messages.
  • In summary, a mailing list is usually considered an inactive list while a marketing list is live and used for the purpose of marketing. While mailing lists are usually considered a low-priority marketing activity, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of a properly created marketing list – especially when it comes to driving sales.

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