Have you ever heard a phrase for the first time and then for weeks after hear it again and again ad nauseum. That happened a few years ago when an online marketing guru announced during a face to face workshop “the money’s in the list”. He was talking about customer databases and even went on to say the magic number was 400 contacts to make money. Since then I’ve heard internet marketers talk about how to use these lists for maximum benefit, including joint ventures to promote products and services via other people’s lists. How many times have you received notification about an event from multiple people online? Now you know why.
Amazingly we come across clients, both businesses and not for profits, that don’t use mailing lists. Some argue it’s ‘easier’ to use scatter gun promotion, through mail drops, website and social media postings, directories and networks. What they really mean is they don’t really understand the benefits of having a database or how to use one effectively.
Many moons ago, whilst working for a Europe-wide market leader in its niche, we developed a three dimensional database. It had length, breadth and depth; nothing fancy, created using Microsoft Access. It wasn’t massively huge but was a power house in its own right. Every time we delivered a training course or conference, we would invite people to complete a form with their interests so we could inform them of future opportunities. It was the opt-in strategy of the its day. Every January we would write to people on the database to check whether they wanted to remain; the unsubscribe function. Amazingly very few people opted out. In fact the list grew organically (we didn’t need to purchase other people’s lists). However, we did joint venture with others, especially conference organising partners where it was essential to promote through their networks.
Because we invited people to nominate their interests (we had a list of topics and invited them to add their own ideas), we not only had length, but were also able to segment (breadth). The depth of the list came into play when we were looking for workshop facilitators, referrals and advice. The people we approached (on our database) were already fans and were happy to run workshops. At the same time, because they enjoyed our programs so much they became repeat attendees, They got to know each other and developed networks with others on our database. As their skills grew, they became senior level managers (and networks) and their staff became our new generation of participants. Over a ten year period, we experienced at least two generations of networks and evolutions to senior level management. Our database was making us money because of the people inside it.
If it costs more than seven times the money and effort to acquire a new client than to service existing clients then the return on investment is immediately obvious. Here are some other benefits to building a mailing list and attaching it to a marketing automation system (eg MailChimp, Get Response, AWeber, Campaign Monitor):
• People can self-select to opt-in
• People can opt-out
• You can segment the list
• You can use segments to target messages and offers
• You can send newsletters to segmented lists – or everyone
• You can survey people on your list and improve your products and services
• There may be experts or influencers on your database that could help you
• You could have ‘fans’ on your list ready to refer you to others
• You can connect to your on line store, Facebook, Google, Eventbrite and many other customer attraction systems
At the end of a conference on rural development, we found out that somebody in the audience was in fact the one person in Europe sitting on millions of pounds worth of grant funding. He sat through the whole event and did not disclose who he was until the end. He was incognito, wanting to hear what people had to say. Is there somebody similar hiding in your list? Do you have a list for them to hide in and if so, what can you offer of value in return for their support?
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