Every business that reaches out to its customers has, or should have, a marketing list. This can be something as basic as a list of the folks who have purchased your products and services. Keeping in touch with these people is important because they have already demonstrated a preference for your products and services. As such they should be at the top of your list for likely repeat sales. And, you should be marketing to them! And, every business should be doing marketing list maintenance and tune-ups for the best results. What should this entail?
At its most basic, a marketing list is a collection of names and addresses. A business will use this list to send mail, make phone calls, or set up email campaigns in an attempt to solicit business. But simply having a list of names and periodically sending emails, mailing brochures, or making phone calls can be inefficient if the list is poorly maintained and not organized in such a manner as to allowed customer-specific messages. Sending advertising to the wrong address or wrong email address is wasteful. It can even be detrimental to your business if you are routinely sending advertising to someone who is angry at you for some unknown reason and sees the repeated messages as an insult!
The purpose of marketing is to keep your products and services in the mind of your customers, convince more folks to become customers, and make more sales. You may have new products to offer, a sale with great prices, or simply be sending informational messages of value to the customer in an attempt to keep them thinking of you.
Ideally, you want to match your marketing message as closely as you can to the client and the products and services they are most likely to purchase. We have written that one of the small business marketing essentials is to define just who your customer is. This requires that your list include more than just names and addresses. First of all, your marketing list needs to be updated and maintained to include name, address, zip code, email address, and phone numbers as a starter. Then it should include whether or not the person is a current customer and what they have purchased. If your list includes persons who have not been customers but fit certain criteria that could make them customers, such as zip code, professional status, or other criteria, that criteria should be included in the list. If you are wondering where to put this information, the same QuickBooks that you use for your bookkeeping is a great place as you already have a lot of the same information stored there.
Going beyond this data, a good marketing list includes information about how the person responded to your efforts. Did they come in and buy something within a week after your send out glossy brochures? Did they buy something when you called them on the phone? And, in this era of computers and the internet, did they open your email, click on the message, make a purchase, or request more information? Some of this needs to be recorded manually in order to make your marketing list more effective. But, if you are sending email messages and using an automated system, you will be able to track opens, clicks, and other customer actions. You can even set up such systems to trigger the mailing of an informational eBook, a series of promotional mailings, or a sales call by one of your sale force.
How often should you look at your marketing list? If you are doing active marketing, you should be doing marketing list maintenance and tune-ups all of the time! When you use an automated emailing system such as AWeber or a more robust management tool such as Infusionsoft, you will always have up to date information about who opened, clicked, or otherwise acted on your marketing email.
And, with tools like these, a business can do split testing of subject lines or even entire messages in order to determine what is producing the best results. These features can also be used to tailor your message to the specific recipient. Current customers get one message while potential customers get another. Maintaining your marketing list in such a way as to identify what message to send to whom can make the difference between a so-so marketing campaign and one with blockbuster results!
The best email marketing list is one that is homegrown. These can be people who have purchased from you but they also need to have agreed to receive your emails. This is called opting in. A commonly successful approach to growing our own email list is to spend some time on SEO (search engine optimization) so that you can increase your website traffic from new visitors. On your website, you will offer an eBook containing useful information. All that the site visitor needs to do to have the eBook automatically sent to them is to agree to receive your emails, which also includes providing their own email address.
Alternatively, some businesses choose to purchase targeted email lists from a third party. In either case, before you send any emails to any of these folks you need to “clean” your list. There are services like Listwise that in turn have extensive lists of “good” and “bad” email addresses, and will test to see that the email you sent them to clean is a valid email or a trap email belonging to no one but flagged by the email processors of the internet. If you are routinely sending to these “bad” addresses, your reputation will be bad and most of your “good” emails may never pass through the system and arrive at the recipient. Likewise, if a recipient decides that they really don’t want your email they can unsubscribe or if they are ticked off they can complain. If you persist in trying to send to these folks your reputation suffers and none of your “good” emails gets delivered.
Smart email senders clean every email before trying to send it the first time. And, a good practice is to re-clean your whole list every six months or so.
When we work with our clients to help maximize their profits, we use a bookkeeping method called Profit First. This way of doing the books allocates profit, owner’s pay, and other expense categories to segregated bank accounts twice a month. The discipline learned with this approach improves budgeting and cash flow management. Your marketing should be in one of these categories. It needs to take place on a regular basis and have its own budget. And, the process requires the same custom reports that QuickBooks generates for other aspects of your business. Having both the details and actionable insights available on a routine basis allows you to steadily hone your efforts with marketing list maintenance and tune-ups. Please feel free to contact us at Exigo Business Solutions in the Kansas City area if you have any questions.