How can we find a database that specifically homes in on the client sector we're looking for?

13 April 2006
How can we find a database that specifically homes in on the client sector we're looking for?

Paul West, Ignite Marketing Wastage is always going to be a potential problem with contact data, but there are ways of limiting the amount.

1. Before purchasing any external databases, try to build your own first, as this is likely to be the most cost-effective strategy and to deliver a greater return on your investment.

  • Take customers' e-mail addresses at the time of booking.
  • Use customer feedback cards for gathering general and contact information.
  • Collect business cards using a "prize draw" incentive.
  • Include a sales promotion on all advertising or flyers that is only validated by completing contact details.

2. Once you've developed your database, you can use it for sending newsletters, invitations or promotional vouchers. Keep your newsletters personal and friendly, and avoid using a corporate tone. Mail-merge so that your newsletter addresses the contact by name.

3. When using externally purchased data, always assume in your budget that a sizeable proportion will be wasted. A response rate of about 2% is considered a good result.

4. Several data companies provide a "drill down" service that lets you dictate criteria. Lifestyle data can help pinpoint your most likely prospects. For example, you could request details of people who live in London W postcode areas, aged 26-45, who earn £35,000-plus, eat out more than twice a week and read broadsheet newspapers. These people would obviously be good prospects for a west London fine-dining restaurant.

5. Take a look at these lifestyle data suppliers, which should help you extract the most suitable data for your needs:

Chris Morton, Chris Morton Associates Direct mail remains one of the most effective forms of promotional activity. However, a mailing list can be as broad as a telephone directory or as targeted as a precision list, depending on your instructions.

Lists are available for both consumers and companies.

Dealing with consumer lists first, you can get lists based on compiled data - where someone has put a list together based on stated criteria such as gender, age, club membership, etc, or a user list, which has the benefit that people on the list have undertaken the stated activity.

A compiled list, such as the directory, is likely to be less effective than a user list drawn from a lifestyle survey or a list of known consumers.

Find out if the list supplier has lifestyle data available and ask if they can "run" your list against other factors, such as special interests, age, car ownership, etc. Lists refined in this way will cost more per entry, but your wastage will be less and your response should be higher.

When buying a list of people who have done something, such as buying a short break, check when they last bought. More recent and frequent purchasers tend to be the best to sell to.

When mailing companies, you can select by such factors as Standard Industry Classification Code (SICC), number of employees, annual turnover, etc. Analysis of your current users by the same factors will help you to identify what to ask for. We have found very different types of companies use bedrooms and can be drawn to Christmas party nights and other events.

Careful list selection works.

Charles Trevor-Roper, Coaching to Success The real problem is not the cost of buying duff information, it is the time and expense of working with unproductive leads. To limit this problem, you need to consider three points.

Remember, though, when you purchase a database, that you are really talking to a computer - and the computer will not think for you, it just does what you ask. This means you need to be absolutely clear about the information you want.

First, identify your target audience in as much detail as you can. Data providers are now much better at meeting your requirements by offering a vast number of filters to help you get exactly what you want. But it is up to you to ask the right questions.

However, even if you've done this, you will still get duff data. This is because people change jobs quite often, and even if you get the right corporate clients to contact, you may not have the correct key decision maker.

Second, confirm with your data supplier when the contacts were last checked. The norm is 18 months - but a lot can happen in that time. It's worth paying more money for contacts that are checked every three or six months. Research your data provider before committing yourself.

If you get the right data provider and ask them the right questions, you should get less than 3% duff data - there are providers which guarantee this. The point is that the bad data you receive will concern the name of the decision maker, not the business.

Third, make follow-up calls after every mail-shot, and use these as opportunities to update the name of the decision maker on your own database for future use.

Follow these three points and you will get much better results.

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