Developing your Marketing List
Your marketing list will be the central point of your marketing strategy. A marketing list should be so much more than a bunch of names in a notebook or on a spreadsheet – it’s pivotal to the growth of your business.
For many small business owners their marketing list comprises of a bunch of names and email addresses that they have pulled together (often over a long period of time) from sales and even from research on the internet or local publications. They then send regular emails out with details of promotions and upcoming events etc which unfortunately often end up either ignored or in a spam folder. Marketing of this type rarely works.
The Continuum of Behaviour
Before reading any further, it’s important that you understand The Continuum of Behaviour. The decision to purchase is nearly always affected by the continuum of behaviour whether someone is an existing, previous or brand new customer. This is the process a person has to go through before going ahead with the purchase of any products or services.
The five steps of the continuum of behaviour are: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Desire, Action. Generally it takes at least 3 interactions from a seller before a purchaser decides to buy. In no particular order, these could include an advert, leaflet, sales letter, networking event, LinkedIn connection, Facebook or Twitter interaction, business card they have seen, a visit to the seller’s website, a phone call from the seller, referral or recommendation, an email from the seller. The buyer always starts the buying process at ‘awareness’ and through regular interactions with the seller moves the stages until they hopefully decide to take ‘action’ and buy.
Depending on the product or service it can take minutes, hours, weeks or even months to go through the process. Timing of the interactions with the seller (and ensuring that they are regular) is key to keeping the buyer moving along the continuum – contact them too often and the buyer may feel ‘hassled’, not frequently enough and the buyer may lose interest. The type of interaction is also important – they should be varied and will ideally avoid being TOO salesy. Preferably they should be seen as helpful and informative.
How do I go about building an effective marketing list?
There are numerous methods of gathering details for your list:
Facebook Capture Advert – Facebook capture adverts are by far one of the quickest and most successful ways of building your marketing list. You can set a budget to suit and you only pay when someone clicks on your advert so you’re only paying when your advert gains interest. Facebook by it’s very nature is able to mine huge amounts of information from it’s users facilitating amazing targeted advertising. A capture advert is where you offer a promotional voucher or viewing of an instructional video or perhaps top tips list in return for a name and email address. You are then able to immediately follow up on this interaction with a further interaction that will hopefully move them further along the ‘continuum of behaviour’ as discussed above.
Website Data Capture Page – There are two methods of capturing email addresses from your website. First and most obvious is to collect the email addresses of customers when they are purchasing from your website. There is another method that can also work quite successfully however – a pop up capture advert that is shown when people go to leave your website – this is also called a ‘lead magnet’. The way this works is to entice the website visitor to give you their contact details in return for something. This could be a discount voucher, a useful document (such as a ‘how to’), a how to video, access to a free webinar etc. Basically you offer the enticement within the pop up and then they have to provide their name and email address to access it. You can then either email them what you’ve offered or take them to a page on your website as you feel is relevant so they can start their journey on ‘the continuum of behaviour’ as mentioned above.
List building in this way is particularly great as you can then follow up the interaction with the potential client with an/another email within a day or so – ideally you would get your website to work alongside an email marketing services such as ‘Mailchimp’ to automate this process for you. It’s also great because the people on your list from a capture ad are great leads that have already shown interest in your products or services.
Internet Research – Bit of an obvious one but if you offer business to business services or products then you can build up a list of potential customers simply by googling and mining their contact information from their websites. There are a couple of issues with this….firstly, it’s incredibly time consuming and the information may well be out of date. Secondly, sending unsolicited emails is considered ‘spam’ and could well get you in trouble as it is strictly against the law so you would have to contact them by phone or post in the first instance. That said, this type of research does have it’s place if done correctly. Ensure that any internet research you do is done strategically with a specific set of criteria in mind. Furthermore ensure that you are able to tell what criteria you used when finding the contacts to ensure that any communication you send them is relevant to them.
Facebook – Another way of researching potential customers is finding them on Facebook. There are groups on Facebook for everything from owning a tortoise to car enthusiasts, thousands of groups on different topics relating to having babies and young children and lots and lots of local community groups, local business groups and local selling groups. If you are hoping to target local people, joining some of the local groups would be a good place to start. Otherwise you can join any and all relevant groups. If you’re a business to business supplier then hopefully you’ll come across lots of other companies advertising their services.
Publications and local information – More relevant if you’re a B2B company hoping to sell to local business, and perhaps another obvious option – seek out any and all local publications to check out who is advertising with them. You may also come across business cards and leaflets locally of similar businesses.
How to manage your data:
There are three main options when it comes to managing your data.
Database – There are plenty of online database systems that are available to hold your marketing list. Many of them you can tailor to suit your needs and lots of them are free. If you have as part of your software suite, Microsoft Access is also an option. When creating a database, there are a few things you need to think about. Every record must have a unique identifier such as a numeric code. It’s also a good idea to choose your field types carefully – where possible, use drop down selection fields as these will reduce typos and make fields essential as relevant. Think about what you’re going to use this data for and include as much relevant information as you can to help you with future reporting and also future marketing. You may for example wish to know how customers came to be on your database in the last year, or perhaps you want a list and contact details of all customers that meet certain criteria – what might that criteria be? It might be a good idea to put together a list of reports that may want to run in the future and work out what information you would need to be able to run those reports. I personally use www.zoho.com which I find to be an excellent, all encompassing business tool for managing a marketing list.
Spreadsheet – If a database feels a little too complicated or a bit OTT for your marketing list then a spreadsheet would be a good place to start. Although you are keeping your data in a slightly different way to a database, you still need to consider some of the same issues so it’s worth reading about databases (Above). Obviously it’s not possible to run reports from a spreadsheet but you can generally filter the information to get most of what you want out of it. Some people choose to use a database to keep track of their customers contact details and the notes against them and a spreadsheet to keep track of who they need to contact when – and this a perfectly acceptable solution which I have used myself in the earlier days of starting my businesses.
Email marketing service – An email marketing service is an online company that holds your client’s contact information and enables you to create emails, using some fantastic templates and tools, which can then be sent out either manually or automatically. Tools like these (www.mailchimp.com is an excellent example) can be invaluable and many integrate beautifully with some online databases and/or websites.
However you decide to keep your records, please remember that you do need to adhere to all the latest data protection laws. The new rules on data protection (GDPR) come into force at the end of May 18. I will be putting together an article on data protection to help on this front in the coming months but if you need any advice on this at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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