The It List

When c21ers recently had the opportunity to present at the annual conferences of the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and Silverpop, a leading e-mail marketing service provider, one question seemed to be at the forefront of both audiences’ minds – How do you build a marketing database?

There are several steps you can take to create an effective database, but c21 preaches one concept above all others… Quality over quantity. We have created mailings to lists of 20 and lists of 20,000. Targeted, permission-based campaigns always outperform campaigns to purchased, borrowed and out of date lists. For example, we recently sent out an e-mail newsletter for an Atlanta homebuilder. One list consisted of 300 current homeowners and hot prospects who had visited the builder’s communities. The second list contained 16,000 names from a variety of sources – some of the names were purchased from a list management company and others had signed up to receive information from a local real estate agency – not from the builders the agency represents. The targeted e-mail outperformed the untargeted list by more than 350%.

So, if quality is king, how do you create a quality list?

1) Look at what you’ve already got – Who are your current customers and prospects? Who do you and your colleagues know? To get your list off to a strong start, add friends, family and satisfied customers – people who are familiar with your brand and who can help you expand your list further.
2) Create an online sign-up form – Link to a sign up form from your Web site so that visitors can easily express interest in receiving additional information. Sign up forms offer an unobtrusive way to gather data, and can easily be added to your Web site, blog, e-mail signature and more.
3) Be where your target audience is – Are they attending professional conferences? Send a representative who can network and gather contact information. Are they attending local festivals and fairs? Have a booth where people can learn more about your organization and sign up for your newsletter.
4) Offer an incentive to sign up – People are more likely to give you their contact information if they know they are getting something in return. One homebuilder we work with is offering a $100 Home Depot gift card to anyone who signs up and tours a model home. Offering access to white papers and research data is an inexpensive way for BtoB organizations to obtain qualified leads.
5) Create a referral program – Satisfied customers are your best brand ambassadors. A free gift or a deep discount for your best customers can result in new prospects that could translate into revenue.

List-building is an ongoing process. Large, qualified lists can’t be created overnight, but with the cost-effective steps above, you can build a marketing database that will yield a strong ROI.

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