Six Steps for Reactivating Your B-to-B Names

Targeting inactive customers is the business-to-business mailer’s best opportunity for growth, according to Linda Pickering, a senior vice president of White Plains, NY-based list firm MeritDirect. “More times than not, mailers forget to reactivate inactive customers,” Pickering said at her company’s annual business mailers’ co-op and interactive marketing conference last week. “But reactivating names is a vital part of building your house files.”

At the conference, Pickering explained what you need to do—once you correct or reject unmailable records from your house file—to reactivate former buyers.

The first step is to use an out-of-business file with an overlay flag on inactive or suspect customer records. Using this should determine if those customers are with companies that are no longer in business or at companies that may have moved or changed names.

The second step involves use of co-op databases. Inactive records on your house file could be active on a co-op’s database, meaning you have a chance to win their business back.

Step three is to replace the original name on an inactive customer record with a slug title, such as “attn: marketing manager,” or “attn: buyer.”

Step four is to use an inactive site record and use a new buyer name from a rental list to reactivate the site. This, Pickering said, enhances the chance that your mailing will at least reach a person at the company you are trying to contact.

The fifth step has to do with the timing of the reactivation. Use the first order date as a trigger and try to reactivate during that same time of year. It could be that the inactive customer is with a government agency or another institution that, based on its budget, does all its ordering during one specific time each year.

The sixth step is to market to your most recent inactives with more aggressive and frequent mailings than you do to your 36-month or older inactives. The more recent inactives, Pickering said, should receive three times as many communications as the customers who have been out of touch for a longer time.

Once you win back your inactive customers, Pickering advised reinvesting the proceeds into additional marketing efforts. “Never be fearful about investing money to build a more powerful and flexible customer file,” she said. “It is the backbone of any marketing and your most powerful asset.”

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