25 Years In Business-to-Business Database Marketing

Top 5 Tips To Get Best Value From Your Marketing Lists

It’s, ahem, 25 years since I sold the first subscriptions to Marketing Appointments to a handful of advertising and design agencies. You don’t need to know everything I’ve learned about mailing lists, business data and marketing information. But knowing how to get the best value from our marketing lists, that is useful. Here’s five points for b2b marketers that can’t be said often enough.

 

  1. The best performing list is one that contains companies with a similar profile to your current client list. If you buy a mailing list and it contains the names of people and companies with whom you are already doing business, this is a good sign. Don’t waste your time grumbling that 3 people on the list of 100 names are already clients, get on with contacting the other 97 in the happy knowledge that these are good prospects.

 

  1. Social media is great but unless your tweets and FB posts are being read by your target audience, it won’t bring in the sales. Use mailing lists to identify your target readership, find those prospects on Twitter and LinkedIn and communicate with them directly.  Follow people on Twitter and get yourself noticed by writing some interesting tweets. Most Tweeters receive an email each time they attract a new follower, which puts your company name in their inbox, just by clicking the ‘follow’ button.

 

  1. In times of mass emailing clogging up the executive inbox, you need to stay on good terms with your prospects and clients. Figure out how often people can bear to hear from you. Think of something new to say or a new way of saying your old message. Bashing out the same copy to the same people every week wins you no fans, just a whole bunch of unsubscribes.

 

  1. Many executives have their inbox security set to ‘very high’ to screen out unwanted emails. Email sent to these people will bounce back to you as ‘identified as spam’ or ’email unavailable’. Put these email addresses in a separate file and write an email specifically formulated to get a very low spam score and to get past their spam filter. Keep it short, keep links to a minimum and keep it text only. See here for more tips on keeping your e-shots out of the filters’ way.

 

  1. ReMail. You have bought a list from Electric Marketing. Don’t just use it once, get your money’s worth and email it again. You can send an initial email, follow it up a fortnight or month later, look the person up on social media and make contact, write a letter, send a brochure or pick up the phone. You’ve got the data, use it while it’s current.  ReMailing works.

Learning From The Results Of Your Email Campaigns

So you’ve bought your mailing list, removed the people you already have as clients, checked your creative for typos and spelling errors and sent the email out. Apart from dealing with all your enquiries, setting your appointments and processing your orders, what should you do next?

It probably isn’t your favourite job but remember to keep a record of your results. How many orders did the mailing generate, how many appointments, enquiries, phone calls? Listen to your prospects when you speak to them. Did they understand the mailing and did they know how to respond? Were they the right people to mail or did they pass your mailer up the corporate ladder, sideways to another department or down to a subordinate?  Next time you come to buy a mailing list, having a note of the industry sectors and job titles of the people who responded, can guide your purchase so that you buy the best data possible.

Remember that re-mailing the same list can work really well, as long as you are careful to remove the people who have already responded. Try a new subject header or tweak the copy based on what you’ve learned from your conversations with responders.  Electric Marketing does not charge you for re-mailing a list, so get your budget’s worth and send a second email. Or follow up with a phone call or look the person up on social media and make contact.  You could even send a letter. In a world of many forms of communication, everyone has their favourite way of interacting with companies.

And if you feel you have left it too late to follow up on an email, remember that Electric Marketing offers an updated version of your mailing list for just 25% of the price if you come back to us within six months of the purchase date. Or you can pay 50% of the price for an update if you bought the list within 12 months.

 

 

Get Me Off This Mailing List! The Insider’s Guide To Removing Yourself From Mailing Lists and eMail Lists.

Electric Marketing mailing lists are targeted, compiled mailing lists of a total of 80,000 influencers and budget holders. If you’re included on one of our mailing lists and you don’t want to be, we’ll remove you within hours. We won’t be pleased about it. We’ve selected you as a business person with senior responsibilities that other companies want to reach. And we only allow verified companies offering products and services pertinent to your role to access our data. But we’ll accept your decision with good grace and quickly remove you.

We often get messages requesting removal from people who are not on our mailing list. For those people, here is our guide to the mailing list business and how, if you really don’t want to receive information that is pertinent to your job and industry, you can get yourself taken off mailing lists for good.

  1. Tick the opt out boxes when you buy online. Do not add yourself to any more mailing lists. This might mean that you have to pay more for your pleasures. I used a cheap hotel booking service: part of the bargain was that I accept their “partners’ marketing messages”.
  2. Stop accepting free stuff.When you sign up to receive a free industry magazine or email, part of the deal is often that you accept “carefully targeted marketing messages from our partners”. Selling email lists pays for the writers and compilers of your free information.
  3. Search the internet for your own email address.You may find that your email address has been added to the end of a corporate press release and is sitting on the web, ready to be picked up by web spiders. These programs trawl the internet, ‘scraping’ email addresses from web pages and adding them to mailing lists which are then sold at bargain basement prices. If you’ve ever received an offer of a mailing list of a million contacts for $99, this is the source of that data. No human has been involved in the compiling of that data, just the guy who wrote the sales pitch.
  4. When an unwanted email comes in, click through to the unsubscribe page and read the name of the list you are on. Sometimes it will give the name of the company which supplied the data. Search online for that company and contact them directly. They are obliged by law to remove you within 28 days of your notifying them that you do not wish to be on their emailing list.
  5. Take yourself off LinkedIn.  LinkedIn charges for its InMail service and when you sign up you agree to receive those InMail messages. But if you have put your name, job title, company name and location on LinkedIn, it is easy for other business people to find your phone number and email address and to get in touch.

If you are doing an important job in a significant UK company, other business people want to contact you. You may not want to hear from them, what they have to say may not interest you, but if you are in a senior role with budgetary responsibilities, accept that other business people will get in touch. And their right to contact you once by email is enshrined in the UK’s Privacy & Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulation 2003. The law is different in Ireland and most of the rest of Europe.

The UK is a marketing friendly business space and this seems to be working pretty well.  Have you checked the value of the Euro recently?

Serious business people keep their minds open to new ideas, refresh their supplier base and take on new business practices. Pushing forward with new ideas, updating company business processes and being an early adopter of new technology are hallmarks of successful corporates and their senior teams. How can you find out about the latest trends and new technology if you don’t read pitches from potential suppliers?

Obviously some companies abuse this right, take hold of your email address and send you stuff three times a week. Hit the unsubscribe button. Show no mercy. I’ve written about over-frequent emailers here.

 

How Many Is Too Many?: Using Email Lists Effectively And Sensibly

‘How often can I use the mailing list?’ can be the first question a new client asks Electric Marketing.

We don’t restrict the use of our mailing lists: it’s your marketing campaign, you are running the show. But to get the best value from an email list and to be able to use it over and over, we recommend that you limit emailing your cold prospects to once a month.

Business-to-business email marketers must be alive to their ‘unsubscribe’ rate. UK law states that you can send emails to business people on business matters but if they ask you not to contact them again or ‘unsubscribe’, you must not email that person again.  Each ‘unsubscribe’ is a prospect that you cannot email again. Ever.

To get best value from your email marketing list, keep the unsubscribes to a minimum so that your list of 1,000 marketing managers does not deteriorate to 900 email addresses after the first week.

One of the top reasons people give for requesting to be removed from the Electric Marketing database, is that they receive too many emails. If a prospect feels that your emails are filling up their inbox, they will seek out your unsubscribe button and launch themselves off your email list.

In tests, we have found that an email campaign to a fresh list of cold prospects can expect an unsubscribe rate of 0.5%.  Email that same list one month later and we receive the same unsubscribe rate. But email the same list two weeks later and the second email generated 1% of unsubscribe notices and we note, more strident language.  By emailing twice a month, so 24 times in one year, your email list shrinks at twice the rate.

‘People don’t unsubscribe because they do not want to hear from you, they unsubscribe because they know what you are offering.’

If your email marketing serves to remind businesses that you are still eager to do business with them, it is likely that you don’t have anything different to offer from last week.  You wouldn’t write to a business every week saying pretty much the same thing, why treat email differently on the basis that it is cheap to do so?  We recommend that you email your cold prospects no more than once a month for up to a year.  After a year of emails, it is likely that you will have to reach out to them by phone, post or social media and admit defeat on email. A quick phone call might reveal that they are not the right person in the company to make the decision.

No busy decision maker reads every email that arrives instantly.  Time management best practice dictates that successful business people filter emails into what is urgent and to be dealt with immediately, then maybe emails to be filed and then emails that are interesting and to read later. Realistically no senior decision maker will place an approach from a new supplier in the ‘must read now’ file.  Your first email should aim to be in the ‘read and consider later’ file. Give your prospect time to read your email.  It is probably best not to badger them with emails twice a week until they ask you to stop.

For email lists of busy decision makers in large companies see our page of email lists of directors and decision makers

 

De-duping & Appending Mailing Lists: What Exactly Will You Do With My Marketing Data?

Last month we talked about how using de-duping and appending services can refresh your mailing lists, cutting down on marketing costs every time you email the list.

This time, more detail on the different ways of updating a mailing list.

Below is a four-step process we can follow with your marketing data and you can bow out of the process at any point, thereby controlling your spend but always ending up with a better list than when you started.

1. First up is the cheapest: verifying at 5p per contact. You email over your data, we run it against our up-to-date mailing lists and are left with two files. The first is of data that we know to be correct; the second is of data that did not match our own and so may be incorrect. We put the first file aside as ‘good data’.

2. We run the second file of suspect data against our Leavers Database, a database of 150,000 company directors and managers who have left a job since 2007. This cuts the file down to size again and is charged at 5p per removed contact. We know these contacts are incorrect, so these are discarded. You might consider telephone research to update these records, if your campaign deadlines and marketing budget allow.

3. Missing data fields; if the mailing list file is missing contact names, email addresses or phone numbers, we can add those in. Price 40p per new contact name. Or if we do not have the missing names, we can telephone the companies and research the new contact for you for £1.50 per name.

4. More contacts please: by now your file is looking fitter but smaller and is probably missing some key players. Brief us on the types of companies and job titles you are looking for and we’ll run a search on our database. We’ll find extra contacts that fit your brief. Naturally, we’ll run our data against yours so that you only pay for the new contacts added. Price 40p per addition.

So what are the downsides to this process. Firstly we are only using computers. No de-dupe software can pick up every error that your own human eye can pick up. The question is, would you rather wade through the data yourself, or give the job to a computer? A human eye, a sharp telephone researcher and a data inputter will get you closer to your perfect list, but will take far more time and budget.

There is no such thing as the perfect list (even if you do the work yourself). If you are a perfectionist, use a de-duping and appending service as a starting point and then scrutinise the data yourself, making corrections and taking out people and companies that you do not wish to contact, before you use it. At this point you might hire someone to telephone research the list for you. We can do this for £1.50 per contact.

Our final (and most popular) option is a complete file update. If you’ve bought a mailing list from us within the previous 12 months, you can ask for the same specification and pay a reduced price:

List bought within last 6 months 75% discount of total price

List bought within last 12 months 50% discount of total price.

Our page on de-duping and appending mailing lists gives you more details. Or to take us up on any of these data services, call David Evans on 020 7419 7999 or email lists@electricmarketing.co.uk

 

I want to buy a mailing list but I don’t want to pay for the contacts I already have. How complicated is appending and de-duping?

No one likes to waste money paying for the same thing twice.  But if you already have data, how can you add to it without paying for the same contacts again?

Appending is a useful service which mailing list companies offer. It has its limitations but it can save time and budget and it allows you to quickly refresh the data you already have, without spending budget needlessly.

But, it is not something that you can do in your office on your PC. You have to trust your mailing list supplier with your data and allow the data company full access to it. Mailing list companies are happy to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements if you are worried that a mailing list company might take your data and sell it on (but any established company won’t – by your own admission your data is out of date, so why would they want it?).

So the first step is to email over the data to your list supplier.

The second step is to accept that mailing list companies are only using computers and matching software. Your human eye will pick up more errors in the list than the computer which only has fuzzy logic in its armoury. The question is, would you rather wade through the data yourself, or give the job to a computer?  A human eye will get you closer to your perfect list, but will take far more time and effort.

The key problem we face in not achieving perfect lists is that your old data might have out of date or incorrect company names. Without a match on a company name, matching software cannot work to its maximum capacity. An example of a non-match is your database has M&S plc which does not match our Marks & Spencer plc. Without a match, the software does not see the two records as the same company and skips the record without making the correction or appending the data. It becomes an unknown.

So for best results, quickly run your eye over the data, paying particular attention to company names and updating the ones you know to be incorrect.  If your data contains the company names CityLink (no longer trading), Cadbury (now Mondelez) and Lloyds TSB Bank (now split into Lloyds Banking Group and TSB Bank), these will not be matched and so cannot be corrected. If you want to keep up to date with the big mergers and acquisitions see our page of M&A News here or subscribe to the Electric Business blog.

When you email your data to us, we can run your data though all or any of these processes:

  1. Verify your data
  2. Remove known incorrect contacts using our Leavers Database
  3. Add in any missing email addresses or phone numbers (appending)
  4. Add in new contact names and companies that are missing from the list

The next blog will explain these processes in more detail, but whatever you choose you will end up with a leaner, fitter file of data and you won’t have spent budget on a brand new list.

We have a menu of appending and updating services for your mailing lists and email lists here.

Buying A B2B Mailing List: Why Job Titles Matter

When you’re thinking of buying a mailing list, the first criterion is usually type of company – legal firms, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, retailers. Then you might think geography – UK wide or local? And then obviously you want to target a decision-maker so you may choose managing director/someone senior.

But you can really target your list (and therefore pay less for it by buying less data) by considering the most likely job title your target will have.

If you email the managing director, you assume that he will pass your information down to the relevant person in the company. While this is a reasonable view when targeting companies of say, under 50 people, for larger firms (and it is larger firms who have the largest budgets) you need a more targeted approach.

If you are currently dealing with smaller companies where the managing director buys your product and you wish to tap into the more generous budgets of larger companies, discuss with your team which departments in a company usually use your product and contact the managers of those departments directly.

If your typical buyers span two departments you may need to send two e-shots ie marketing software can be bought by the marketing director and the IT director working together, so email the heads of both departments.

The most senior decision maker for a function does not always have a ‘director’ job title. For example, many firms don’t have an IT guy sitting on the board; they have a Head of IT who reports in to the finance director. You can ask a mailing list company to select IT directors and where there is no IT director, then select an IT manager contact.

A word of warning on job titles; some mailing list providers offer ‘the name of the person responsible for’ marketing, HR, IT, training, facilities etc. This is not always a manager with a budget and in a small company, you might buy the email address of the director’s PA or an office manager.

If you are buying a mailing list of medium to large-sized companies and are looking for a list of say, marketing managers, be sure to check that their job titles are just that. Ask the mailing list company for a sample of the data and a preview file of the companies and job titles you are buying.   If a company does not have a marketing function, it is often a clear signal that they do not run ongoing marketing campaigns. You are likely to be wasting budget chasing after a company that does not engage in marketing if you are offering marketing services.

On the other hand even large companies simply will not have the specialist job title you are looking for. Fleet managers, sponsorship managers, market research manager, travel managers, diversity managers, sustainability managers, IT security – these are all functions that may have a dedicated person or may fall into someone else’s remit. Again, ask the mailing list company to select, say diversity managers and where there is no one with that job title, select HR director or HR manager.

You can see a full list of the 121 mailing lists of job titles offered by Electric Marketing here

Hard Bounce, Soft Bounce and Filtered? Why don’t all my emails reach the inbox?

Now that it’s common practice for email list suppliers to offer money-back guarantees on emails which do not reach the target’s inbox, you might find yourself sifting through returned emails, wondering what sort of bounce back will get a refund and what the mailing list company will refuse.

Here are Electric Marketing’s definitions:

Hard Bounce – you have the wrong email address. Check the spelling of the person’s name, the company name, that the address has an @ and a proper ending. It is easy to type .con instead of .com. Or the person has changed their email or left the company. If you have bought the list, email your list provider with all the addresses which hard bounced and get a refund. If you’ve bought your mailing list from Electric Marketing, we’ll correct the addresses we can (we phone all the companies on your list), send you the corrected email addresses and refund you for the remainder.

Soft Bounce – your email has hit a server which is down. Your software will probably try to send it again during the next 24 hours. If it doesn’t get through, try again the following week. The soft bounce is much less common than it was 10 years ago which I put down to better performing servers and technology. But a broken server is not the fault of your list supplier, so there is no refund on this one.

Access Denied – if your email bounces back with this heading, your email has been blocked by a spam filter. Again this is not the fault of your email list supplier but you can often fix this problem by looking at the message you sent and seeing which elements triggered the spam software to give your email a high spam score.

Filters work by giving each individual message a ‘spam score’. Marked out of ten, the higher the score, the more likely your message will be put in the spam filter. You no doubt use a spam filter yourself and know that you can choose the degree to which you set your filter, high, medium or low. The inboxes which reject your e-shot have their filters set to high, which means that even emails which get a relatively low spam score will be rejected.

For advice on writing an email which will evade a high spam score, see our page on Email Deliverability but the top 5 things to remember are

1. No hyperbole. Limit use of exclamation marks, capital letters and repetition.

2.Try not put too many links in the email. This is a characteristic of spammers. Balance the number of links to the amount of text.

3.Try not use images that contain text as this also is a characteristic of spammers. Filters cannot read text in images, so the spammer will hide his FREE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE in an image. Spam filters now filter out emails with images that contain text.

4. It is best not to send the email as one big HTML image. Balance the number of images to the amount of text.

5.Try not talk about lots of money. Big prices give you a big score by the spam filter.

Of course, rules are made to be broken.

You might find that you get a better response to your email by using lots of images or lots of links. And that on balance, it is better to live with a higher percentage of returned emails in order to make more sales to the people whose filters accepted your email.  Bear in mind that the person who sets their filter to the highest level might not be your best sales prospect.

 

Using Business Mailing Lists With Social Media

With the EU eager to ring the death knell for one-to-one marketing and bloggers on the web shouting that cold emailing doesn’t work, we look at new ways to cut through the information overload and reach the unresponsive corporate executive.

Post is too expensive, no one takes telesales calls anymore and gmail-type filters put all your cold email shots into the ‘cold email shot’ file which your target corporate executive never opens. How can you get your message in front of your target – the senior executive with a serious corporate budget?

LinkedIn

The bad news: people exaggerate on LinkedIn. That head of marketing for a hot tech start up; it’s a guy in his bedroom in his Mum’s house with a great website and big plans. But he hasn’t got a budget, so he’s no use to you.

More bad news: people don’t update their profile on LinkedIn or they forget their password and the email address they used to sign up is defunct and so is the company that issued the email, so they can’t access the account and they are forever listed as head of marketing for Woolworths. So they start a new account. LinkedIn is littered with abandoned profiles.

But the good news is that LinkedIn is full of people in big companies with heavy responsibilities and big budgets to match them. It is just a matter of identifying the right people.

Using a researched mailing list to identify the people you want to target and find them on LinkedIn overcomes the site’s drawbacks. You can make contact either by requesting to connect (free) or using the InMail service. Either way you know you are putting efforts into starting a conversation with a relevant prospect for your business.

 

Twitter

Twitter is a great place for driving traffic to your website. But you want the right people going on your site, so use a targeted, researched mailing list to identify the people you want as clients and start by following them.

Your targets may follow you back, but if you follow them, Twitter allows you to respond to their tweets. Strike up a conversation, maybe just retweet one of their posts or reply to a tweet with a simple ‘I agree’ or ‘great idea’. If you’re feeling timid, just favouriting one of their tweets will get your name in front of them. Most tweeters have their Twitter account set so that they get an email every time someone follows them, favourites a tweet, replies to a tweet or mentions their Twitter name in a tweet.

There you are, your name in their inbox and not in the spam filter. And you’ve said something nice about them, publicly. Who doesn’t respond to a compliment in their inbox?

Electric Marketing’s mailing lists now offer executive’s Twitter names. See here for details.

And if all this chat about tweets, posts and retweets sounds complicated, read the Electric Marketing guide to using Twitter in business-to-business marketing.

By Being In The Right Place At The Right Time, You Can Win New Business

Trigger marketing or event-driven marketing usually refers to consumer marketing but by focusing on key moments in a company’s life, you can use trigger-marketing in marketing to business. You can increase your sales by contacting companies when they are likely to be hiring new suppliers.

The hiring of a chief executive can mark the start of a new chapter in a corporate’s life.

A new chief executive is expected to make changes to the way things are done at a company but the saying that ‘a new broom sweeps clean’ also applies to departmental directors and managers heading up teams.  In many corporate cultures it is essential to look busy and not accept the status quo. An ambitious new hiring needs to get noticed; he will often fire suppliers and bring in new partners with fresh ideas.

And this is the time to get your business card, your website or your LinkedIn profile,  in front of the new manager to make sure that you are on the pitch list.

As well as being timely, you can make your initial communication relevant to the prospect, maybe offer congratulations on the new job.

Electric Marketing tracks new appointments in a series of monthly updates, giving you contact details of newly appointed managers and directors in the high-spending departments of large UK companies.

We focus on the people who are likely to be buying in services: chief executive, marketing director, HR director, finance director, IT director , sales director, CRM manager and training manager. Once a month, we email our subscribers a list of all the new appointments we have identified (we phone every company on the list a few days beforehand) with their full contact details.  At just £355 for 12 datafiles, one every month for a year, it is the most effective information for b2b trigger marketing campaigns available.

We offer ten lists of new appointments, every month, each one focusing on a corporate department. See the full range of new appointments mailing lists here.

By being in the right place at the right time, you can win business.

Read more about trigger marketing.