Some believe prospecting is not a best practice because there is no direct opt-in permission. Marketers who prospect have no direct relationship with the individuals they reach out to. Others think the quality of email lists is less than stellar. And, some feel it’s an expensive marketing proposition.
Well, all of that is pretty damning! But there are many reasons to consider email for customer acquisition and lead generation. It can and does work for many B-to-C and B-to-B marketers. Here are tips on how to make it work.
Do Your List Homework
One direct marketing mantra from John Francis Tighe is that there’s a three-legged stool for any campaign: the target, the offer and the creative (For more info on the concept of the three-legged stool in marketing, watch Peggy Hatch’s video). So, it’s really important to be laser-focused in selecting lists.
The journey starts with finding good list brokers. When choosing a reputable list broker, here are things to consider:
• You may already work with list companies on direct mail campaigns. That’s certainly a help because the broker already understands your business. Plus, you have a track record on what types of lists work. That’s a good start.
• In some cases, your direct mail broker may not be the right resource to turn to for an email campaign. You need a broker who is steeped in the world of email. Look for list companies who have an internal group that lives and breathes email. Ideally, there should be several people in the department who focus entirely on email.
• Another criterion I think is important is that the list company is a member of The Direct Marketing Association. The DMA has a code of ethics that all members must follow. This may tip the odds more in your favor.
• I also like the idea of working with more than one email list broker. Each broker has their own experience to draw upon in putting together a list recommendation for you. Having two different experts thinking about your business will provide different points of view and more choices.
• A broker’s recommendation will only be as good as the briefing you provide them. Do a brain dump of everything you know about existing customers or subscribers. Share any market research on demographics, firmagraphics and psychographics. Tell your broker what advertising and marketing vehicles have worked best for you. Do you cater to different segments? If so, be sure to provide that information.
• Be sure to drill down on selects within a list — a good broker will include this in a recommendation. Yes, each selection adds an additional cost; but the more focused and targeted you can be, the more likely you are to be successful.
Do the Math
Any acquisition campaign is an investment in the future and most marketers know they will not breakeven. While email is less expensive than direct mail, it is still a significant investment.
As a general rule of thumb, consumer lists will be in the $100/M to $125/M range and B-to-B lists will be at least double that amount — this assumes you will use targeted selections.
If you have a good handle on the lifetime value of your customers, you can estimate whether prospecting email would work for you. If your average lifetime value is low, investing in acquisition is probably not for you.
Develop a Strong Offer
Remember that the prospects you approach may not be familiar with your company or your products and services. One primary campaign objective is to get recipients to provide their contact information.
• B-to-B marketers will often offer a whitepaper, a webinar or other premiums to get individuals to register. Then they have plans in place to nurture these leads over time to develop business.
• Publishers should think about giving their best offer. It might include a subscription price that is less than what is readily available online, as well as an enticing premium.
• Consumer marketers will sometimes lead with a contest or sweepstakes to capture personal information. Or they may offer a coupon or sizeable discount on first purchase.
Be Short and to the Point
Your creative has to do heavy lifting for you; but you don’t have the luxury of the promotional space you have in direct mail. It must be short and to the point. Here are five tips:
- Grab attention fast. Make your first two sentences as strong and compelling as possible.
- Include at least one image. People are more engaged when there are images.
- Restate your call to action two to three times. Include both buttons and links.
- Make sure there’s a link to view your creative online.
- The landing page must complement the email design so that it provides a seamless experience.
Good luck in your prospecting efforts!