The ‘E’ Connection
If you find a list owner that lets you do your own send, be alert. Because the company is not protecting its list, it probably means it isn’t good quality. Plus, when you do the send, you’re putting yourself at risk for taking responsibility for Can Spam-related issues.
One other difference between e-mail and direct mail is that since the list owner does the send, you can’t do a merge/purge. If a name/e-mail address is on multiple lists, that person will get multiple e-mails from you.
PF: If lists are as important to e-mail as direct mail, how do you find lists to rent, especially since e-mail is permission-based?
JJ: Most traditional direct mail list brokers also handle opt-in e-mail lists. As with direct mail, it’s good to work with brokers who are experienced and understand e-mail. Here are some e-mail list suggestions: Third-party lists will never outperform your housefile, so start by e-mailing to those on the list you already own. Also, avoid compiled lists; I have found results to be disappointing. Ask your broker to verify that the lists you are renting are indeed opt-in.
PF: What are the most appropriate and successful applications for e-mail marketing?
JJ: It all starts with answering the question: “What’s the goal?” Do you want to generate renewals, cross-sell related products and services, build your business with referrals, or upsell to increase revenues with minimal cost? Start by setting your goals. And I’d start by doing stand-alone or e-mail newsletters targeted at your own customers. This is the lowest-hanging fruit.
Something else to keep in mind: It’s easier to do B-to-B prospecting than B-to-C because there aren’t as many good consumer lists.
It also can get expensive. For example, an e-mail newsletter is an effective soft offer for getting qualified prospects to register online and be added to your housefile. But it’s going to be a multistep process to transform that prospect who responded to a soft offer into a profitable customer. It’s an investment in time and resources, so you want to measure and weigh results carefully.