Hints & Tips

List selections

5 Feb 2016 By MarketingFile

The importance of the list

In terms of the factors effecting response, the quality of the list is by far the most important element of any direct marketing campaign and more important even than the offer, the creative, the timing or the response device.

The amount of time you’ll put into creative should be replicated in the targeting – or your efforts will be wasted on the wrong people.

Who should you be targeting?

In simple terms you should target the people who are likely to be the most profitable to you.

Existing customers

Analyse your sales figures by customer and identify the most profitable. Note that these are not necessarily your largest customers if you give volume discounts, nor the customers who order most often once all the order processing and support costs are accounted for.

Often you will find 80% of profits come from just 20% of your customers, known as the 80:20 rule, meaning if you find another 20% of high spending customer, you can increase profits by 80%!

Profile your most profitable customers

Look for similarities amongst your most profitable customers to build one or more profiles. For business customers look at business activity, geographic location, business size, HQ or branch, job-title and any other factors relating to your specific product or service. For consumers consider their age, sex, marital status, where they live, number of children, occupation and income, home and car ownership. If you don’t have this data available you can be creative, see below.

You may find that there is more than one definable group of “best” customers - possibly buying different products or services from you or buying in a different way.

New company or new product launch?

You may not have relevant sales data to analyse, but hopefully you have some inkling as to the target market for your new product or service. If not then some research is required. Alternatively you can test the response to your best guess with a small volume campaign before committing to a major investment.

Choosing which database to use

MarketingFile.com gives you access to a huge range of databases (over 50 at time of writing). Establishing which one to use is key to the success of your campaign. Consider also that your best prospects may be found in more than one of the databases. In this case you may choose to test the responsiveness and return on investment of each in turn.

Choosing a business database

If you need to target companies within a particular industry only, consider a “Business Sector List”.

If you need to target a particular job-title across a wide range of industries, consider a “Job Function List”. If you cannot find either of the above, or if you want to target a large number of businesses in a local area, consider a “General Business List”.

Choosing a consumer database

To target a particular type of person identify the category that most closely matches the characteristics or behaviour you want to target. If you cannot find what you are looking for, or if you want to target large numbers of consumers within a local area, consider a “lifestyle” database.

Making your targeting selections

Select your targets from the chosen database according to the target profile(s) you defined by including them as selection criteria.

Include the targets you want - exclude those you don’t want

Your targeting should also account for the people you don’t want to reach, this is sometimes more difficult to define but will reduce waste and save you money.

Look down the list of selection criteria and whenever you catch yourself saying things like “age doesn’t seem to matter” or “we don’t have any data on company size” pause a moment to consider if you shouldn’t be including or excluding at least some names based on this criteria, e.g.

  • When using an international database - exclude the countries you don’t / can’t service
  • When using a general business database - you may wish to exclude public sector organizations or not-for-profits
  • Large businesses and small businesses have different buying scenarios - you are unlikely to appeal to both with the same offering
  • When mailing consumers - you may wish to exclude the very old
Geographic selections

Think about the area(s) you wish to target. Is it a territory that is defined by postcodes or counties? Is it defined by the distance your customer is prepared to travel to your premises? Is it a number of scattered postcode sectors?

If you don’t have detailed knowledge of your target area you are best to limit your geo-selections to include only a single type of selection, e.g. postcode, town or county.

If using distance from a point, bear in mind that this is “as the crow flies” and may include areas you do not immediately consider to be “close” to you, e.g. Kent is only a few miles from Essex geographically but is rendered distant in travel terms by the Thames estuary.

Be creative - think laterally

Some of the most successful campaigns result from slightly lateral thinking at the targeting stage. For example;

  • Selecting people who have credit cards is an obvious choice if that is your preferred payment method, but it is also a good indication that they take credit and may be swayed by an attractive credit deal
  • If your product is a people carrier, consider targeting families with large numbers of children (rather than the usual conquest make/model combinations)

Such targeting is often blindingly obvious with hindsight - but then so are most good ideas.

What if your count is too big?

You can always reduce your count by taking only records 1 to 1000 but far better to select the 1st 1000 by company size (or whatever is relevant), or even to focus your targeting on a smaller defines target group. If you want to target segments individually, select a number of postcodes at a time. This way you can be sure there are no duplicates in later purchases, even if the list is updated.

What if your count is too small?

When selecting a particular data field it may only be partially populated, resulting in smaller counts as the “unknowns” are not taken into account. You may consider excluding other selections to include the “unknowns”, however this only applied if the data field is not critical to the campaign.

Job titles

If we have the job title you want then great, but don’t dismiss the companies where we “only” have a default contact. These are usually smaller businesses where the default contact is the boss and is actually the person you need to reach for most purchasing decisions.

Telephone numbers

Not all our records have telephone numbers on. In fact we are deleting numbers every day as more people opt out of receiving telemarketing calls by joining the Telephone Preference Service. So if you want to ensure all your prospect records have telephone numbers, make sure you select “has tel no” as a selection criteria and then buy the “tel no” field at output.

Single-use or multiple-use?

MarketingFile.com enables you to purchase data for either single-use or multiple-use. The actual license-to-use varies slightly depending on the list-owner who supplies the data (please read the license terms carefully).

Why buy for multiple-use?

To increase your response rate we would recommend you consider contacting each prospect more than once - and at least quarterly. Increasing the frequency normally increases the response rate and many experienced direct marketers prefer to contact prospects monthly.

It makes sense to contact your prospects frequently for the same reasons that companies run a long series of advertisements in magazines or on television. Prospects often require multiple exposures to an advertisement before they buy. Making multiple contacts increases your prospects' awareness of your company and also increases the likelihood that your message is received at a time that your products or services are needed by them.

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