The List–A Critical Key to your Marketing Success

Marketers, who is vetting your lists??!!

We have lived in our house for 13 years. This week I received an 8.1oz mailer for an event addressed—with very wrong spelling—to the previous owner. What a waste: of postage, of a fairly heavy direct mail package, of a lead name, and most importantly, of a possible attendee who might have wanted to spend $700-5000+ to attend this particular event?

The list. Whether you are using email/search/direct mail/telemarketing/tv/radio channel to market, the quality of your list is still key to getting any response.

If your message doesn’t go to the right person, it doesn’t matter how fancy, attractive, or pithy your marketing effort, copy or offer is.

Choose your lists carefully, keep your own database clean, and analyze results and bad contact info (mailing address, phone number/email) to decide which lists to use again.

An experienced marketer can work with a legitimate list broker to research and recommend lists that reach your target audience. There are so many details on a list rental “data card” that the marketer knows how to interpret, as well as questions to ask about newly available lists. And on the flip side, there are unscrupulous brokers and cobbled-together-from-garbage lists.

Here are 4 simple ideas to clean up and then analyze many of your marketing efforts:

  1. Run your final mailing list through NCOA, have emails cleaned, or have your telemarketing vendor clean up area codes and numbers.
  2. Only buy lists from reputable firms and brands.
  3. Double check bad address/phone/email counts (from before mailing) and response rates by list.
  4. Sometimes, you can spot check a few names against company websites or LinkedIn. Other times the list firm insists a rented list go directly to the mail house, so you cannot do this.

It’s back to basics for marketing smarter in today’s competitive environment. And it’s the details can help you drive success.

The journey continues.

Cindy

What is YOUR Database STRATEGY?

In a publishing or information services company, every department has data. A lot of it. In different formats. With a range of collected demographics. And wants to store and use it in a variety of ways.

Typical departments can include:

  • Audience development (for the magazines and e-newsletter lists)
  • Events
  • Membership
  • Events
  • Research
  • List Services

Each of these departments has a different view of the database, but those individual views may not be what is best for the entire company database.  If there is no central communication, I envision the blindfolded people around the elephant: each with a completely different view of the animal but no one grasping how complex the animal is.

When reviewing options for how to best house your customer information, it is critical to have someone looking at the STRATEGY of how you want to capture customer data, maintain it, use it in the future. You need that over-arching view as you consider technology options for what is best for the entire organization.

This is not an easy task today. Online customers drive how much information they will offer about themselves to interact with your sites, your offers, your products. And as I have said in previous posts, this can be at odds with the information that advertisers are demanding. Without a strategy, it can be cumbersome and frustrating for internal staff AND customers, who are continually asked for unnecessary data about themselves and sent offers they have no interest in.

There are some database management systems that have incredible front ends for data capture, but the back end of the system is not as nuanced as many business-2-business firms require today. There are some systems that can store and massage your data, but the front end for data capture is severely old-fashioned.

I have been involved in several recent database reviews. I am not sure there is ONE firm that best provides the superior front AND back end services for today’s multi-faceted information services companies. The online interactions and interests of both advertisers and customers are changing so rapidly, it is hard to keep up technology-wise. But, you can combine the services of more than one firm to reach your goals.

Be sure to involve an experienced database manager at the front end of your development process. She can help decipher the needs of the various departments, ask targeted questions to potential database firms, and help determine which systems might work best for your company today to market smarter and maximize revenue. And tomorrow.

The journey continues.

C

5 Low-Cost Ideas to Improve Email Response Rates. Now.

How do we increase email response rates? Today it seems every client wants to email faster, bigger, more impatiently to improve dropping response rates. The same or overlapping segments on a database repeatedly receive messages, while other segments are ignored.

We have all worked with marketers who believe the theory that if you continually market to absolutely everyone over and over you will eventually hit your goals. The opposite will happen. You will frustrate your key customers, resulting in increased opt outs, lower click throughs and responses, and ignored offers.

Here are 5 practical, low cost ideas I have had success with in the last year in the never-ending quest to improve marketing results:

  1. What are you testing? list, message, offer? The more you test, the better you know how your customers respond. A list of testing ideas can be found in this previous post.
  2. Tweak the list(s) you are using. If you often market to the same list, when was the last time you reviewed your selection criteria? Review and hone it now.
  3. How can you cross promote? If someone responds to an email, what is included in your “thank you” message, assuming you have one?   Can you offer a similar product on that message?
  4. Do you have older or inactive customers on your database? Implement an email series to try to re-engage them with a complimentary or low-cost offer.
  5. Append missing demographics. If you regularly segment based on a specific demographic like employee size, append that data to a portion of your database missing that demographic. You will increase the size of your list selection, giving you a larger pool include in you marketing efforts. If you regularly Nth your file, having that larger pool can mean names are selected less frequently, resulting in lower list fatigue.

If you can incorporate ONE of these ideas into a marketing email in the next month, I am confident you will see an improvement in your results–assuming you are already offering the correct product to the right audience. And you may look at your efforts with a different view in the future.

The journey continues.

C