Building the List

Mar 04, 2008 7:30 PM  By

Building the List
Maximize profits by growing your customer list

When it comes to prospecting for customers and growing revenues, a lot of companies fall down on the job. They’re not doing all they can to build a customer list that will allow them to maximize profits.

Both B2B and B2C companies can grow their customer lists organically or by renting lists. Many companies are successfully using a combination of both, says Stephen Yu, Vice President of Database Strategies at infoUSA National Accounts.

Planting the Seeds

There are a number of organic methods that an organization can use to grow its prospect list. “If you’re going to make your house list as strong as possible, you need to focus on the things you can control – all the touchpoints you have with the customer,” Yu says.

That means you have to maximize every opportunity you have to obtain your customers’ (or prospective customers’) contact information. Too many companies ignore the most obvious opportunities to collect customer data. Web sites, call centers, and point-of-purchase are all great ways to gather information.

For example, a B2B company could use its Web site to entice people to provide their valuable contact information by offering online newsletters, webinars or whitepapers. The methods for a B2C company are slightly different, and many consumer companies use coupons, contests and sweepstakes to generate interest.

Many companies have systems to collect customer data at the point of purchase, through warranty cards, workshops or when someone uses a call center. But, all too often, companies don’t ask for key pieces of information – namely email addresses. That’s where email append services come in. Email append can help companies match up names and physical addresses with email addresses.

Getting Some Help

Once you’ve done everything you can to grow your customer list organically, you can supplement it by renting lists from companies like InfoUSA. Companies that have a good understanding of their current customers and the kinds of customers they want to reach can search lists for people or companies that have similar demographic or psychographic markers.

“Rented lists can be successful if you’re working with a reputable vendor and you’re thoughtful about the list you’re renting and the type of people you’re going after,” Yu says.

Another popular external way to grow prospect lists is online co-registration. Here’s how it works: When someone visits a Web site and signs up for some type of communication like a newsletter, whitepaper, or promotion, that person is also offered the choice of signing up for communication from other companies.

Yu says co-registration is a fast way to bulk up the list and offers a cost-per-acquisition structure that a lot of companies really like. “We use co-registration a lot, for both B2B and B2C companies,” he says.

Stephen Yu is Vice President of Database Strategies at infoUSA National Accounts Division. He is a database marketing expert, bridging marketing and technology groups on an executive level, with deep understanding of tactical execution and technical limitations. He can be reached at