Prospect Better to Grow Existing Lists

Greg Grdodian, President, Edith Roman-ePost Direct

Do you know what you're doing? That's not a personal question. All mailers should ask it when building their customer lists. It means, simply, do you have a plan in place? 

If it's time to generate more top-line revenue, then it's time to grow your list. It should be done methodically, using tried-and-true direct marketing methods. 

First, outline your goals. Are you looking for quantity or quality? Are you seeking prospects or immediate customers? 

If it's quantity you want, you might be tempted to try social media, but you could end up with a glut of unqualified names. The best channels for generating customers are the traditional direct marketing ones. You'll get more meaningful data, and you'll have greater control. 

Start by profiling your existing customer file. Match it against a comprehensive business-to-business database and overlay firmographic data like SIC and employee size, and individual details, like text title. Once you've created your customer footprint, you are in the best position to acquire new customers. 

Next, prospect through the traditional channels, such as direct mail, e-mail, and telemarketing. You'll generate higher conversion rates when you use them together. And, you'll learn more about potential buyers--for example, how they like to respond. If it's postal, send an e-mail to trigger response to a direct mail piece. These insights (and others) can be used when the prospects become customers. 

Also, improve your ROI by negotiating multi-use volume deals. Don't drill down in a list to the point where there are no prospects, and stop mailing unresponsive names. Remember the IOU formula: Your copy should generate interest, offer a deal, and deliver a sense of urgency. 

Another way to build your list is through lead generation. Do you have a digital content library made up of white papers, e-books, webcasts, and analysts' reports? Syndicate it through websites, newsletters, and through b-to-b co-registration networks. Prospects can be qualified with a couple of simple questions. 

The Takeaway
Plan ahead, set reasonable goals, and understand the anticipated ROI. 

---Source: DM News Aug. 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com)

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