Build the Best List

List building is an essential task for any business. A database containing detailed information about existing customers and highly qualified prospects and leads is the fuel that powers sales and marketing. Without a quality list, it’s much tougher to drive sustainable growth. This article will explore some of the common ways your company can build the best list possible. First, let’s take a look at the changes in the list-building process.

The Rise of Big Data

Before the Digital Revolution, list building was a tedious task that yielded only basic data like contact information. A list of prospective customers would be compiled by speaking with people and collecting business cards at tradeshows, cold calling or going door to door. Once a bank of contacts was established, salespeople would go to work making sales calls, sending sales or marketing materials or scheduling in-person meetings. It was primarily an outbound, push marketing approach.

This method can still work to a degree. However, most marketers agree that there’s a better approach to resonate with prospects as they make their way through the modern buyer’s journey. As mentioned in our introduction to SEO post, today’s buyers are researchers who rely heavily on computers, tablets and especially smartphones to instantly find information about a company’s products and services. Buyers are no longer reliant on salespeople or company advertisements to fill the information void.

Now, one of the buzzwords that applies to list building is “big data.” Big data is a robust form of list building that goes beyond name and phone number. It’s all about gathering as much information as you can about prospective customers so that you can deploy better marketing materials to them. You’re looking for things such as values and purchase trends, as well as analyzing the behaviors of customers and prospects who interact with your digital marketing assets. Building a more detailed profile of who your audience is and how they think and act will make it easier to grab their attention, connect with them and guide them toward a purchase.

Types of Data

There are two different types of data:

  • Primary Data is any data that you discover and compile on your own for a specific purpose. It contains all of the information you deem essential for a direct mail campaign, for example. The necessary data can be pulled from an accounting system, an existing customer list or compiled through another internal method.
  • Secondary Data is data that is acquired from an outside source. As a result, it most likely will not be specific to your marketing needs. It could contain some data you need but be missing other data, or it could contain data that is inconsequential to your situation. An example of secondary data is a tradeshow list, which is catered to the tradeshow organization’s needs and only sold to other entities as a secondary benefit.

Primary data is always the best because your company is in control and knows how pure and current it is. In a perfect world, you’d be able to identify your best prospects through the process of targeting and creating personas to help understand them better and discover more prospects like them. Many salespeople do generate their own primary data by going through a prospecting process like this. However, it is expensive and time-consuming. It takes a lot of man-hours to go through the Yellow Pages, research on the internet or drive around business districts to find prospects. A better, more efficient approach is to gather as much primary data as possible and use secondary data to supplement. By combining the two, you’ll create the best list.

Sources of Secondary Data

Many sources of secondary data make it easy to quickly get information without spending a bunch of money. However, because it is more outside your control, it’s important to really focus on your identified best prospects and their buyer’s journeys so that you get the most applicable data. Here’s where you can get information:

List Compilers or Resellers

When it comes to list building, most people immediately think of list companies. This is not the only source of information, but it is a convenient one. Purchased lists from compilers or resellers contain valuable information like names, addresses and job titles, as well as more specific company information like annual revenue, total employees and industry segment (SIC code). The big benefit is that it’s cheap. Even if you work for a small to mid-sized business, you can afford to purchase thousands of contacts.

One of the cons of purchased lists is that the segmentation can be inconsistent, which makes targeting difficult. Lists can be broad and hard to narrow down because many businesses fit in different industry codes. If the list compiler has a tough time distinguishing exactly what a business does, it could get categorized incorrectly. In addition, email addresses are harder to come by, which can be discouraging in this modern age of marketing. People don’t like spam, and there are also spam laws. As a result, email lists are more expensive, and email penetration may only be 25%.

List sources include big compilers like Dun & Bradstreet, Acxiom and Experian, as well as resellers who purchase and aggregate lists for clients. Adventure Marketing Solutions is a reseller, and we make the process easy by compiling and formatting lists so that our clients can utilize them right away without having to do the data work themselves.

Trade Associations, Tradeshows & Internet Prospecting

Trade associations create lists of their members and sometimes provide the information to members. If you determine that there is a trade association for your industry that has members to whom you would like to market, contact the association to see if you can become a member and get access to their list. As previously mentioned, tradeshows also typically offer lists for sale. You could also take the old-fashioned approach at shows by collecting business cards or gathering information through raffles. Don’t forget to utilize the internet, too. Sources like LinkedIn have search functions that can be utilized to discover businesses and even have segmentation tools to make it easier to find your best prospects.

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Tactics to Collect Primary Data

The best list includes data provided directly to your company by prospects in your target segment. How do you get them to give up this data? Here are some effective tactics:

Content Hooks

We’ve mentioned content hooks in some of our previous posts, and they are one way to grab the attention of potential customers and harvest their information. Note, this is not a full content marketing campaign. A content hook is a valuable piece of content that prospects will provide their information to get. Examples of content hooks include industry white papers, instructional how-to videos and lists like “tips of the trade.” In many cases, landing pages/microsites are utilized, with prospects submitting their information in order to download the content. A common tactic is to utilize ads on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. You can narrow your audience with a segmentation tool or find prospects similar to those on an existing list with the lookalike audience function. It doesn’t have to be entirely digital, either. Trade publication ads can list the offer and URL of the landing page where people can download the content.

Promotional Emails/Newsletters

Data can also be collected by enticing prospects with email or newsletter subscriptions. In order to receive the information, prospects must provide their email address and other contact information, which can be gathered using a form on your website. This tactic was much more prevalent a decade ago, but it can still work. It falls under the category of outbound because it’s about advertising. The goal is to brag up your products or services, provide coupons, announce upcoming sales, provide company or employee news, etc.

Pure Content Marketing

One of the most suggested tactics is to launch a pure content marketing effort, which enables your company to become a publisher and build an audience without needing to rely on a mass media company. The goal is to appeal to your best customers by creating content based on their shared values. The content should be so informative and generate so much excitement that prospects won’t be able to submit their information fast enough so they don’t get left out of the loop. Content marketing is a preferred data-gathering method because it’s not intrusive. People really want the content and look forward to it because of the positive experience it offers. Refer back to our content marketing post to learn all about it.

What to Do with Your List

By utilizing the tactics in this post, your company can build a quality list of prospects and existing customers. Then what? The next step is to put that list to work. You could utilize direct mail, which we have previously discussed, or you could launch email marketing campaigns, which we will cover in our next post. Check back in to learn more helpful information.

Have additional questions about list and data services or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.


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