How to find your prospects

MarketingFile - How to find your prospects
MarketingFile - How to find your prospects

You’ve planned your strategy, defined your end goal and when you want to achieve it by, you may have even decided which marketing channels you want to use. Next on your “to do list” is decide on how to find the perfect prospects for your campaign. When we say perfect prospects we mean the people/businesses most likely to respond to your marketing communications and take action in becoming a customer.

Expanding your reach to new customers is not an easy task, especially if you’re a new brand entering the market. You need to establish who your target market is and how to segment them, for example you may target businesses – which industry, a particular size, is your product or service limited to location or do you need to target specific job roles like IT or HR?

Depending on how you segment your products and services will then determine how to select prospect data. This will most likely be purchased from a data company, such as MarketingFile, as collecting data yourself can take a lot time, money and resources. Our recommend is to concentrate on both, purchase a prospect list (that best suits your needs) and at the same time work on those prospects and others, from natural traffic, becoming part of your customer database.

Knowing who your audience is

You know your products and services better than anyone, that’s why they’re yours! Analyse who your product or service is meant for, start off with whether its consumer or business – this will help determine which marketing list or company you should contact.

Whether you are targeting consumers or businesses, are you specifically looking for a particular family member or a contact within a business? If it’s a contact within a business consider contacting as many people as possible within the company to increase your chance of a high ROI. Only use this if your product or service is relevant to those people. Leading us on to our second point….

Is your message relevant?

Sending your message to 1million people is not cost effective (at all), segmenting and targeting your marketing messages to the right people will save you thousands of pounds, time and resources, therefore making your business more money!

When selecting your prospects ensure the message you’re sending them is not too specific that it only becomes relevant to a handful of them. You want to find a balance that will entice them to find out more but not alienate them if it’s not relevant to their needs or preferences.

Look into the past

If you are an established business with previous customer shopping habits then use this to your advantage. Analyse your internal data to determine how your current customers shop, when they purchase, what they are buying and how much are they spending. Don’t forget to look at the shoppers themselves, are they congregated to a location, of a certain age or gender, earn above or below a certain salary, have children or drive a certain make and model of vehicle.

By investigating your current shopper activity and profile you can use this when selecting a prospect marketing list, unless you are entering a new market or relatively new business (with none or little customer information) then make the most of the data you hold and base your prospect customers on what you know currently works for your products and services.

Choose the right list

You are now armed with sufficient information and data on the prospect data you would like to purchase, you now need to make a decision on where to buy this data from. We’ve previously written a few blogs on buying a prospect marketing list, but here the main points:

  1. Speak to a range of data companies to find the right prospect data for your campaigns, you might end up going with the first one you spoke to, but whether you’re shopping for data or a new TV it’s always best to shop around.
  2. Ask how the data has been collected, this will determine the accuracy and responsiveness, if the company uses competition surveys the accuracy can be vague, your messages will need to be prepared for this!
  3. Find out how often it is verified and refreshed, most lists are done on a monthly basis, giving you the opportunity to contact new prospects every month!
  4. Buy the data on the licence that suits your needs, if it is a one off campaign then single use is for you. However, if you plan on running a multi-channel/multi-contact campaign (as we recommend) then buy your data on a multiple use licence.

What do you expect?

Last but not least you need to make your expectations realistic, this relates back to your strategy setting and objectives for your campaign. Measuring the success of your campaign to prospect customers will depend on the goals you have set for yourself. Do not expect a majority of your prospect customers to respond to your communication, there is no “one size fits all” response rate so just remember to be realistic with your projections.

Get your subject lines in order

MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order
MarketingFile - Get your subject lines in order

Producing effective, interesting, curious, exciting and personal subject lines for your email campaigns is challenging. You need it to be informative, summarise the email in a couple of words, fun, intriguing, not to hit spam filters and most importantly get your audience to open the email.

Working with many sized companies in a wide variety of verticals has helped us realise where businesses can go wrong with their email subject lines, and through no fault of their own as writing a “good” subject line is hard – even for the more experienced.

Even before creating an attractive email and ensuring the journey beyond flows seamlessly, the subject is the first thing your audience will see and therefore is by far the most important element of your email campaign. It is the clincher as to whether they go on to open and read your email you’ve spent time and money investing in, so don’t waste it with a poor subject line, or even worse by your email getting caught in spam filters and never even reaching them.

Spam detectors

The art of a subject line is to sell your product or service without using words which can get caught by spam filters. We’ve listed a handful of them, although there are many more, so using tools such as subject checker will help give you an idea of what will get caught in spam filters.

Free   %      Off  Save

Sale     MoneyBuy  Cash

WinnerCall     NowFrom

Keep it short and sweet

The length of your subject line counts, keeping it between 20-40 characters will ensure the whole sentence can be seen in most email clients, any longer and you’ll find it will get condensed.


It might only be a short sentence but do not leave out proper punctuation, the first letter should be capitalised – but don’t write the whole thing in CAPITALS as it will get picked up by spam filters or most likely ignored by your reader for being too ‘shouty’. Something else


This follows along from the point above, no matter what you are sending out – email, mail piece, advertisement, SMS you should always spell check. No excuses for poor or misspelt subject lines.


Without writing all in capitals, give your reader a sense of urgency to open the email. However, if you put a time limit on an offer or promotion then you must stick to the end date, people do not like to feel cheated out of a deal. We’d also like to add leave out the exclamation marks, it doesn’t add the urgency you want to create just annoys the reader!!! (see).


Coming from a data background we can only but tell you how personalised messages can improve open and click through rates on a majority of emails, however there are two things to bear in mind:

  1. Get the name right – if you’re not confident in your data then do not use the first name and keep it generic, its better than sending Mr Adam Smith “Paul, a Christmas treat just for you”… oops.
  2. Keep it relevant to that persons shopping habits – if you’re using their name then you should know what they like and offer it to them.

Remember there is no definitive rule when it comes to subject lines, what works for one business might not for another. It all depends on your testing capability, so just keep on testing those subject lines and see what works best for your customers.

Is it safe to call?

MarketingFile - Is it safe to call?
MarketingFile - Is it safe to call?

Does your business carry out its own telemarketing or outsource to a call centre?

Either way, telemarketing has a number of regulations and standards which you need to know about before embarking on the complicated world of telesales.

As we’ve mentioned before telemarketing should form part of your overall marketing strategy, so although it can be used for cold calling (not recommended) it performs better when part of a multi-channel strategy. For example, let’s say you’ve sent out an email or direct mail to prospect data the perfect way to follow up these leads is calling them.

Whether you use your sales team or employ a call centre we’ve put together the regulations that surround telemarketing;

Data Protection Act 1998

This is not just limited to your telemarketing activity, anywhere you are using consumer data your business must ensure it complies with the data protection act of 1998. The rule includes, but is not exclusive to; data must be kept safe and secure, used for limited, specifically stated purposes, used fairly and lawfully and handled according to data protection rights.

Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) Interception of Communications Regulations 2000

This regulation relates to the act of intercepting, recording and monitoring telephone calls. A business can only intercept, record or monitor calls in the following instances;

  • To provide evidence of a business transaction
  • To ensure that a business complies with regulatory procedures
  • To see that quality standards or targets are being met in the interests of national security
  • To prevent or detect crime to investigate the unauthorised use of a telecom system
  • To secure the effective operation of the telecom system.

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

The purpose of this regulation is for consumers and businesses to stop any unwanted marketing calls, either by telephone, email or SMS. It is the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) who is responsible for enforcing against unsolicited calls, emails and SMS messages. The penalty for this offence can carry a £500,000 fine – so be aware of who you are calling, do you have their permission?

Click here for more information on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations

The above regulation also relates to the TPS, telephone preference service. This is a service paid for by the DMA, regulated by Ofcom and is a legal requirement for all businesses not to make calls to any phone number, consumer or business, registered on the list.

Any business partaking in telemarketing needs to ensure their data is clean of any TPS records, this can be done through MarketingFile’s data cleansing services, we also check against the MPS, mailing preference, and FPS, fax preference and Baby MPS. The latter check is crucial for businesses targeting new families, in the circumstance of the death of a baby mailings to parents can cause unintended pain, by checking your lists against the baby MPS this can prevent such action occurring.

For more information on our TPS services please call us on 0845 345 7755 or email [email protected]

Small business marketing

MarketingFile - Small business marketing
MarketingFile - Small business marketing

How much “marketing” does your business carry out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Not a lot? Are you sure?

Marketing is not just limited to sales and advertising, it is about growing your business – this is something you focus on all day, every day.

You don’t have to be a marketing professional to understand the basics of marketing and why it should be a major part of your business growth strategy. With the recession not too far behind us this is a perfect opportunity to find new channels to market to gain competitive advantage.

As a small business your ability to be agile within your business environment means you can be more responsive to the ever changing market conditions. Without the restrictions, which can arise in larger corporations for example over brand identity, an SME can alter their product or service to match the needs and expectations of their customers. Decisions can be made quickly and easily, with less hoops to jump through for a new offering to be released to the market. Key attributes such as flexibility and agility within SME’s are attracting a new standard of marketing professional, one that is willing to make big jumps into new sectors using new marketing activities.

However, there are also the limitations to take into account. Budget and resources can hold back a start-up business or SME into launching new products or services using expensive advertising. To help combat budget restrictions for marketing within small businesses here are our top tips to make the most of out of your marketing budget:

Use your customers

They are fantastic advocates of your business, as small businesses tend to be closer to their customers asking for feedback or suggestions can provide valuable customer knowledge to help your brand grow.

Think niche

As a small business you can’t target everyone – even if you could why would you? Segmenting your target audience will identify who is most likely to use and therefore purchase your products or services. These are the people you should be targeting, find out where they are (in the real world and virtually) and what they read so your messages reach them at the right time.

Keep it social

With a limited budget your marketing spend still needs to be spent wisely. Be cleaver with your social media, although it’s free to post and share, if you’re using their promotional activity then be careful where your budget goes. Below are the current stats of how many active users each social media channel has. Select the channel most appropriate for your audience, e.g. start with LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company.

Cheap channels

Another marketing activity which will give great return of investment and not break the bank is direct marketing. This will allow you to target specific customers or prospects using email, mail and SMS channels. With email starting from as little as 3p per email this is a channel which all small businesses should be including in their marketing activity.

If you want to find out more about direct marketing get in touch with our team on 0845 345 7755 to see how MarketingFile can help with your next direct marketing campaign.

Sending Direct Mail

MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips
MarketingFile - Four basic direct mail tips

Sending direct mail with Royal Mail can be challenging, the system is complicated with certain weight and size restrictions which can cause higher mailing costs. For any business keeping the cost of your postage for direct mail campaigns is essential for ROI. To help with potential difficulties when producing your mail piece we’ve highlighted some of the issues you can come across.

A regular letter can be up to 24cm by 16.5cm and 0.5cm thick – this is not quite the size of an A4 sheet of paper but can include large postcards, greeting cards and folded A4 letters. 1st class is 62p and 2nd class is 53p per item. MarketingFile offer a print and post service through Touchpoint for 51p per item which includes prospect data, high quality digital printing, envelope stuffing and postage!

If you want to send an A4 document or letter, a magazine or brochure or even a CD or DVD in a case then this is classed as a large letter and can be up to 35.3cm by 25cm and 2.5cm thick. Prices start from 93p for 1st class and 73p for 2nd class.

The next stage is a small parcel, with Royal Mail there are two types, wide or deep option. Each are allowed up to 2kg in weight and sizes are:

Small parcel wide option: 45cm by 35cm and 8cm thick
Small parcel deep option: 35cm by 25cm and 16cm thick
1st class starts from £3.20 and 2nd class £2.80

*If your mail piece is larger than this it will be classed as a medium parcel and should not be used for direct marketing purposes as the cost per item starts from £12 per item which is not cost efficient.

Paper stock

Choosing your paper stock can be difficult depending on what you are sending, select the right weight that suits your marketing requirements and keeps within cost restrictions. For example if you are sending a high quality brochure then using standard paper (80gsm) is far too thin, opting for a thin card (300gsm) will give a sturdy and professional finish and depending on the number of pages should fit in the 0.5cm thickness.

Remember the width measurements from above, if you want to send a A5 brochure this would be classed as a letter, but if the thickness is over 0.5cm its then classed as a large letter and the price increases by 20-30p per item.

Machine readable (OCR compliant)

If you are sending bulk items using machine readable letters can reduce the cost of sending your letter. To do this you need to use an accredited mailing company, for example when using Touchpoint you will benefit from reduced costs as we use OCR compliant processes, we will also help you with the design and layout of your mail piece to ensure it meets OCR regulations.

Address boxes

There must be a 5mm clearance around the address block on all mail items and when using a windowed envelope there must be at least 3mm to the left and 2mm to the bottom inside the window.

Remember to include a return address, this can clearly be labelled to the top left of the envelope, leaving a 12mm space above the address block, or centralised on the back. This is to ensure you keep your records up to date with people who have moved.

For more information see Royal Mail’s guide to addressing mail items

If you are still not sure what to send or how to send it get in touch with us today to find out more about Touchpoint. Send direct mail items from 51p – this takes care of your data, printing and postage for less than the cost of a 2nd class stamp.

*All of our tips relate to the Royal Mail system, if you use another mailing company please refer to their own regulations.*