Among respondents to the December 2004 Ad:Tech survey by MarketingSherpa, 45% considered response to e-mail campaigns to their house list as “great.” That’s a higher response than for any other online marketing tactic surveyed, including paid search, affiliate programs, and Web media ads.
Building and optimizing your house list is a long-term commitment, however. According to e-mail services provider Return Path, the churn in house lists means that one-third of e-mail addresses will “go bad” every year.
To build an effective acquisition and development plan, start by identifying the most qualified customer at the best cost with the optimal volume of leads. This is a four-step process:
1) Develop a targeting strategy to identify the most-qualified prospects.
2) Leverage relationships with major Websites and portals to build and grow the e-mail database organically and cost-effectively through permission.
3) Use multichannel approaches, including e-mail, interactive marketing, direct mail, alternative media, and promotional media to manage online and offline marketing initiatives.
4) Optimize and track results to ensure you are on-target with campaign objectives, from prospecting to conversion to customer relationship management.
To achieve the goal of identifying the most qualified customer at the best cost with the optimal volume of leads, you might use co-registration, the process of placing qualifying questions and permission requests on a third party’s site registration form. Use of co-registration began to heat up in 2004, influenced by the need to grow house files, the declining options available to find good prospects, the Can-Spam law, the desire to avoid being perceived as a spammer, and the declining performance of rented lists. When considering an online marketing firm to manage your co-registration campaign, there are a few critical questions to ask:
- Does the company provide only opt-in leads? If it doesn’t, move on. The more targeted the lead and the better the permission, the better the lead will perform.
- Does the company tell you the sites your offer will be shown on? If not, move on. Blind buys have a negative effect on your brand and will give you poor leads.
- Can you target the buy using demographics, interests, or modeling, or can you ask custom questions? If you can do any of the above things, it will increase the performance of a lead, even at a higher front-end cost.
- Can the new leads be easily integrated into your opt-in list? Or will you receive a list of new subscribers that you’ll need to input manually?
- Finally, avoid services that collect e-mail addresses based on forced or incentivized opt-ins. These leads are not as qualified–their interest may be short term, whereas you are looking to build a long-term, lasting customer relationship.
Josh Perlstein is executive vice president and Lynn Smith is director of strategic development for Response Media, an Atlanta-based direct marketing solutions provider.