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A Brief Guide To Building Mailing Lists

Guide To Building Mailing Lists 2021

Posted by Steven Sheck, President, Infinite Media

May 31, 2021

Mailing List Must-Haves

Building mailing lists is serious business. It is generally accepted that mailing list data influences deliverability and response more than any other single factor. That said, there are a number of boxes that MUST be checked before you buy either business or consumer data, to give your campaign a fighting chance.

The Building Blocks

Existing customers are your bread and butter. You know who they are. It is imperative that all possible detail describing transaction history and contact information be captured and retained in a house list database. You know what they bought. Hopefully you know if they are satisfied, making them even more valuable as referrers. Never let them forget you. Offers and incentives delivered by direct mail, email, texts and calls can keep them in the fold.

Likely prospects are potential customers. They are the tire kickers having either called, clicked or browsed in an effort to learn something about a business and what is offered. It is possible to glean their level of interest based on these interactions. In any case, they are the next lowest hanging fruit, and must be nurtured. Gently reach out to them with offers and incentives that build on the need or intent their interest may indicate. Take care to avoid conveying the feeling that “someone’s watching”. Be relevant.

Purchased leads represent a major step toward expanding reach. The previous two groups can inform the specifications for building a much larger list that hopefully reaches a wider audience. The specifications of such a list are guided by the known behaviors and preferences of your customers plus the behaviors and implied intent of your prospects. Based on what has been learned, personas can be built that describe audience members in detail. Personas can help list providers help marketers spend wisely on the construction of a well targeted mailing list.

Combining all of the above to build a growth oriented mailing list require marketers to set criteria that must be met. Following are the factors to consider when choosing a provider of target marketing data. Choice, quality, consultative service and price all contribute to the value equation.

Expect to Select When Building Mailing Lists

Complete contact records contain many individual data elements. They can be demographic, firmographic, or psychographic. In order to target well, the more detail that is offered, the better. Following is a brief overview of each.

Demographic data, typically the backbone of consumer mailing lists, describes populations in terms of individuals and the circumstances of their lives. It goes far beyond name and address to include age, gender, family structure including marital status, number of children, HH income, buyers or renters, new movers, mortgage holders, credit scores, education level, party affiliations, and more. These details tend to be compiled from public data sources such as the U.S. Census bureau.

Firmographic data describes businesses and organizations, for use in building business mailing lists. Industrial categories are available using SIC and NAICS codes, which are readily available. Data describes business list audiences across many dimensions. There are new businesses and small businesses. It includes basic information such as incorporation, H/Q, and branches, and number of employees, general contact information for the entity, or specific executives/decision makers by title and even at home address. Ownership detail includes women, veterans and minorities. Financial health and activity can be learned via UCC filings, years in business, recent revenue, and sales forecasts, and more.

Psychographic data considers individuals in terms of their interests, preferences, and behaviors. Entertainment choices, travel interests, dietary preferences, all are examples of psychographic data. These are learned through subscriptions, survey responses, newsletters and shared data. This information helps to profile subjects for general behaviors in specific terms. Prospect A likes to travel, and in particular to Europe – by bike. Psychographic data is useful when targeting prospects by intent. Depending on what a business does, and by having a meaningful record of tire-kicking interactions, a prospect’s level of interest can be inferred, from casual to serious, and inform next steps.

Data appends are a key component of purchased records. Data appends are details that may be missing from your house list or prospect database. Data appends often provide the missing link to campaign effectiveness. For example, while phone numbers may be present for all, but emails are mostly absent, obtaining them will enable a followup email campaign. Or if company names are already in place, but the key decision maker is missing (and you know it tends to be the CFO) then that data element can be appended.

Regardless of the type of data – first, second, or third party data – under consideration, quality is crucial. Freshness equates with frequency of update, which should be readily available. If it’s not fresh…(think of milk). Accuracy counts. Sender reputation and campaign costs are at risk, so expect to be offered the opportunity assess this for yourself via random access to records.

There’s No One Size Fits All List Building

  • Expect a wide choice of demographic, firmographic, psychographic, & intent data
  • Don’t accept bundles of irrelevant elements.
  • No data element is too narrow to be appended
  • Expect to configure the precise permutations that fit your audience.

Targeting Is Like The Game “Clue”

In the classic mystery board game “Clue“, players assemble a profile of a suspects – “so and so in the (room) with a (weapon)”. Instead, marketers construct a precise picture of their prospects – “college educated licensed professionals age 29-44 in the following zip codes who are homeowners with 2+ children”. When building mailing lists, think like a detective. Remember the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why. For target marketers with visions of success, precision and attention to detail is key. There’s no room for compromise.

Form A Relationship

Just as people form relationships with individuals and businesses that provide everything essential to life and living, marketers are best served when they form trusted relationships with whoever provides them with the critical data that will power their marketing campaigns. This overview sets a fairly high bar for what marketers should expect, and therefore seek in a data partner. There is no reason to settle when it comes to quality, selection, service, expertise and value.

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