Have No Fear… We Have Some Acquisition Pointers Here

The last article I wrote focused on the top 10 fears of email marketers. I had tons of replies about your fears. And guess what your number one fear was, based on your feedback? Yep, you guessed it! The fear of planning and negotiating email list-rental buys (or acquisition campaigns).

I was quite amused when a reader said that she felt list planning was one of those “good fears,” like the fear of touching a hot stove or the fear of playing in traffic. Buying a bad list can destroy a company’s image, its credibility, and its Internet service provider (ISP) agreement.

Since the vast majority of you chimed in about acquisition campaign planning, I decided to focus this article on just that… and give you some things to think about.

First, though, remember that it’s important to begin with creative that’s strategic and compelling to your target audience. For more information on that, check out the ClickZ article entitled “Boxers — or Briefs?” And don’t forget to ensure that the offer is truly motivating to your target audience.

Of course, a big part of what determines the success of an acquisition campaign is the quality of the lists and your media plan. Please note that it is our opinion at Inbox Interactive that the vast majority of today’s outside email lists are best for essentially one thing — to develop a house file for continuous internal marketing efforts.

That said, let’s delve into the ever-changing world of acquisition email marketing and look at some of the factors you should consider when putting your next list plan together.

Test Before Committing

I would suggest that you never purchase a list (unknown or proven) without testing. Some list media planners recommend trying as many as 20 different selects across seven different list owners, each with 10,000 addresses. These folks may pick out the best performing lists/selects and increase the buy to 100,000 addresses or so. Rinse, repeat, and increase the buy again. This method ensures that you don’t spend too much on one list or select that doesn’t perform well. The old “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” saying really rings true here.

Don’t forget that you need enough responses to be able to evaluate your test. Also, you’ll want to make sure you have enough additional names to roll out with if your test works. A good base rule is to test 10 percent of the list universe. You should look for 50 to 100 responses, with a response being the completion of an action, such as a sale or a registration.

Check Into Third-Party Click-Through Tracking

You’ve just put that list-rental buy together, and, like a good email marketer, you’ve decided to go with several lists. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop relying on list owners for your tracking reports, so you can pull results on an as-needed basis? And wouldn’t it be great to know that they are all collected in a unified and identical manner? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to truly understand the numbers you are looking at — are they unique clicks or just a “count”?

Well, a few companies do utilize third-party click-through tracking, which can save you a lot of time calling reps and wondering, “Are these results accurate?” The results are updated instantly whenever you — or your client — need them. A few companies that currently do this come to mind: SF Interactive, MetaResponse Group, and YesMail (if you utilize the company as a list broker).

Drop me an email, dear readers, if you are doing this type of third-party tracking — you can reach me at lrolls@inboxinteractive.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Share Information With List Owners

If you find that a proven list owner’s or manager’s lists don’t perform well, share your data with your contacts there and consider asking for a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-action (CPA) arrangement. Many list professionals can offer a discount if they have data to show management. It is also becoming more popular to discuss a base price of a certain cost per thousand (CPM) and then an additional CPA or CPC beyond that. This type of arrangement provides the list owner with ensured revenue but allows you to get that list back into your next campaign. In fact, there have been many times when the list owner’s discount helped justify including the list on a buy that initially didn’t make sense. List owners and buyers want the same thing — successful campaigns.

By comparing apples to apples and testing, testing, testing, you can implement successful email campaign results for you or your clients.

Consider Working With a List Broker

OK, are you reeling with the trepidation of having to learn all of this? Don’t have the time or energy to do it all yourself? Consider working with a list broker.

A good list broker knows the difference between a good list and a dud. Find a company that doesn’t own or manage any lists, so you won’t have the problem of reps pushing lists that won’t work.

Another good thing about working with list brokers is that they can handle your media planning and placement, and all you have to do is make one phone call — plus, they have the experience to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

I hope all of this helps — have a great week, everyone!

–Lynne

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