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It's time to start taking Marketing Lists seriously

Clean and tidy marketing lists not only help your business improve revenue and customer relationships, they could also be the thing that saves your business from having to pay that €20 million GDPR fine.

If you’re a marketing professional that’s been around for more than a minute, you’ll be perfectly aware that email marketing is one of the most important channels a business has when it comes to engaging with new and existing customers. Far more consistent than social media marketing, email usually provides you with an audience that has opted-in and is ready to read what you’re willing to write (as long as what you’re willing to write is full of value and aligns with your audience’s interests).

There are many things that make an email marketing programme successful; having a good story to tell is one, an excellent copywriter and design team another. Everything from the wit of your copy to the placement of your tiles plays a role in the success of your email campaigns, however, nothing is as important – and sadly, as overlooked – as the marketing lists which you’re sending your emails to.

Making a list, checking it twice

If you want your business to truly see the benefits of having a marketing department, you’ve got to start treating marketing lists like they’re DNA: they have all the information from which you build everything else out of. 

A marketing list brings together groups of people that share highly similar, if not identical interests and lets you see and interact with them in a way that is specific, purposeful and ultimately rewarding for everyone involved. When making a marketing list it’s important to remember that communication with customers needs to be a conversation, i.e. there needs to be a reason for you to talk to them just as there needs to be a reason for them to listen to you. If you’re not meeting each other halfway then you’ll just end up talking past each other. Either you’ll waste your time crafting beautiful content for prospects and leads that go nowhere or you’ll quickly alienate a prospect or lead that sees no value and relevance in what you’re sending them. 

In order to avoid talking past your customers, and wasting your time making endless marketing lists make sure you have a crystal-clear idea of WHO it is you’re trying to talk to and WHAT it is that you have to tell them that’s so darn important. A narrow and specific customer segment that is served surgically precise content will immediately start to produce positive revenue generating results.

When creating marketing lists think objective first and work back from there. So, for example, the objective of Marketing List A is to engage with customers that haven’t made a purchase in six months, while the objective of Marketing List B is to nurture leads that are currently looking for a new ERP partner. Be as specific as you can without getting lost. Having a clear objective will help you determine what customer goes into what list, as well as giving you an idea of the type of content that customer segment needs in order to move through to the next step of the purchasing cycle. Marketing List A might need a promotional offer or news on the latest upgrade, while Marketing List B might need material that is more focused on training and establishing product credibility.

[Read our how-to guide on creating static marketing lists & our how-to guide on creating dynamic marketing lists.]

Attention, please!

Unless you’re an omniscient being, your attention is the most valuable commodity you have to give. What you choose to devote your attention to determines what you end up spending your time on and ultimately what you end up giving your life to. You pay attention to your parents, children, spouse, friends, work, health, diet and drinking, in amongst many other things. Pay too much attention to one and you could end up an alcoholic, pay too little attention to another and you could end up divorced, pay just the right amount of attention to everything and you could be riding high on that ever-elusive work-life balance unicorn.

If you’re going to send your customers, leads, prospects – heck, even your mother – an email (or any other form of communication), make sure you respect the attention they’re about to give you, if you don’t, you’ll make them feel like you’ve wasted their time, and in this attention-economy driven world, there’s always another email, Instagram post or competitor to take that time and turn it good.

CRM systems are crucial in helping you get the right message to the right customer. Unlike a marketing list that’s kept in Excel or a random mailing list programme, a rigorous CRM system lets you have a single view of your customer and allows you to build targeted messaging based on specific customer attributes. A CRM system that gives you all the information around a customer in one easy-to-find and easy-to-view place means your marketing team can start producing work that is informed by facts rather than feelings.

Timing is everything

When you talk to your marketing list is as important as what you talk to your marketing list about. Catching a list at the right time is a tricky thing to do, which is why using a fully-functional CRM system is so important to any business wanting to get this right. A CRM tool allows you to break your marketing lists down into testable segments, from there you can play around with a small yet indicative number of customers and see at what time of the day your email is getting the most open rates, click-throughs and overall engagement. Once you’ve got the timing down, you’ve got to calibrate your frequency. Email a marketing list too frequently and you’ll become a nuisance at best or worse, a creepy stalker. Email them too little and you’ll most likely fall victim to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind trap.

Once you’ve figured out the when and how often, you can use CRM and add-on tools, like ClickDimensions, to automate your email marketing. Rather than having to keep tabs on every single email going out to every single customer at any one point in time, you can use CRM to automate the communication a customer receives based on their current position in the buying cycle. A marketing list could be on a welcome email workflow for a few emails and then turn into an ‘engaging with’ email marketing weekly newsletter. The genetic makeup of each campaign is up to your marketing team to decide based on the needs of your particular business. What isn’t up for debate, however, is the importance of marketing lists that are in tip-top shape. What you’re saying and when you’re saying it don’t mean a thing if the people that you’re saying it to don’t give two bits.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Having clean marketing lists should be a top priority for any business that respects its customers. With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in a few weeks’ time, however, it’s now a non-negotiable. A dirty marketing list post-May 2018 will bring with it all the shame and embarrassment of contacting a customer that’s no longer living in the country or is deceased, along with a four percent global revenue fine or €20 million fine, depending on whatever amount is greater.

I cannot stress this point enough; marketing lists need to be kept in pristine condition at all times. If your business doesn’t have a CRM system in place already, get one immediately. CRM software helps you clean your marketing list data by letting you see all the information your business holds on any one of your customers at any point in time. Because you’re dealing with one version of the truth, you can sense check the information and run Advance Finds to make sure that what’s locked inside your CRM is what the customer wants and has consented you to have. Your marketing lists are living, breathing documents and getting them wrong can get you and your business in a world of trouble; make sure you respect their integrity. The amount of times I’ve seen marketing lists that are out-of-date and full of dubious data is absolutely frightening.

If your business hasn’t set up a preference centre for your customers to manage and control the interactions they have with your business, I suggest you do that right after you get yourself a CRM. Set alerts for when customers unsubscribe or opt-out of a particular communications channel and automate a daily and weekly report that lets you know who your losing and when you’re losing them. Again, keep it up-to-date, if a customer has signalled they wish to continue getting email, however, want to be taken off SMS communication, make sure you’ve triggered a command in your CRM that actions their request. Likewise, if Jane Smith is no longer the Sales Director at Your Dream Client, update that information asap and track that the change has been made.

Your marketing lists should be the lifeblood of your marketing campaigns. They’re the place where the most valuable commodity your business has – it’s customers – live. If you’re not taking your marketing lists seriously then it’s safe to say you’re not really taking your customers seriously either, and now that the GDPR is around the corner, you’re also not taking a massive piece of data privacy regulation seriously as well. If you want to make your marketing department work harder for your business, make sure that they’re doing it the smart way, with the right marketing lists. A strategy built on blasting a generic message to an unknown customer is destined for fines and failure.

If you’d like to find out more about Dynamics CRM or how your business can optimise it’s use of CRM technology in general, talk to Advantage today.

Words by Camilo Lascano Tribin