When it comes to running any type of outbound sales & marketing campaign, everything starts with data.
You have to have some idea of who you’re going to contact, and the necessary contact information to contact them (phone number, email, mailing address, social media, etc). The most effective campaigns often combine multiple channels of communication, meaning the more info you have on your targets, the better your chances of converting them into a paying client.
Whether you’re planning to call everyone in the phone book, or to send unique emails to 27 key decision makers at your most prized target organizations … everything in your direct sales & marketing campaign rides on the strength (or weakness) of your “lead list.”
For purposes of this discussion, the “lead list” can be defined as: ALL the data you have on your targeted contacts; their organization(s), contact information, descriptions, notes, etc.
A lead list can be as simple as names & numbers, and as complex as dossiers with background & credit checks.
No matter how you slice it, if you are relying on this data to earn a profit, building your lead list will make or break your outbound marketing campaign. That’s why it’s important to approach this process with a strategic vision guided by these 4 Principles…
Building Better Lead Generation Lists
PRINCIPLE 1: Know Thy Audience
Obviously the first step in figuring out who to contact is actually deciding on who you want to contact (determining your audience). You need to figure out who has the Demand for whatever it is you have to Supply (and the budget to afford it). You need to understand precisely who they are so you can come up with criteria to specifically define them. The better you can describe & understand key characteristics of your target audience, the more likely you’ll be able to build a home run contact list full of them.
Already in business? Look at your best current clients. Replicate that on as broad a scale possible to define your lead list.
Start-up? Look at your competitors’ top clients. Replicate these, then figure out ways to specialize based on your competitive advantages.
PRINCIPLE 2: Create An Irresistible Offer
I know, I know, your offer is not part of your lead list. However, your offer must be so intimately connected to your lead list that the two mutually define & support one another. A good lead list will be geared specifically toward an audience that is likely to respond to your offer. Your offer must be paired perfectly to your audience in a way that they truly find it irresistible (a “no brainer” decision).
Once you’ve spent plenty of time getting to Know Thy Audience (Principle One), you need to identify two key factors in a concise & persuasive fashion:
- Identify an Urgent Problem among your target audience.
- Present an Immediate Solution to their problem.
- Back up your claims with Hard Evidence.
- Make it as Easy to Get Started as possible.
If you accomplish all 4 objectives – specially tailored for your lead list – then you will indeed have created an Irresistible Offer for your Lead List. If you can deliver on the promises made in your offer, then you are moving along toward having a successful & profitable lead generation campaign!
PRINCIPLE 3: Balance Breadth & Depth
When developing any lead list, you’re always going to be facing a compromise:
- Maximum Breadth (volume of contacts)
- Greater Depth (specificity of contacts)
In other words, when putting together a lead list, you’ll always be forced to ask yourself: “Should I get more potential contacts by broadening my potential audience, OR should I decrease my volume of options in favor of more precisely targeted contacts?”
This question is an age-old one when it comes to targeting a list of prospects. The wise list builder balances Breadth with Depth when setting the criteria for data. The trade-off is obvious. Breadth is expensive … and probably will dilute your conversion ratio. Depth is limited … but at least can offer a greater percentage of closed sales per attempt. Again: the key is balance.
For your next campaign, build 2 lists. For the first “test run” … build a highly specific, laser targeted list (even if it is small). Work your offer to this list, and if / when it is successful, broaden your list to include significantly more potential prospects.
Remember to track these key metrics to find the ideal balance between Breadth & Depth:
- Conversion Ratio (sales / # contacts)
- Average Client Acquisition Cost (sales & marketing cost / # of sales)
- Average Revenue Per Client (immediate & life-time)
There will always be a “sweet spot” of your ideal clients, defined broadly enough to include a large volume of prospects, but specifically enough to ensure that your acquisition costs are significantly outweighed by your revenue per client.
PRINCIPLE 4: Track Your Results
My grandfather had a saying:
“That which gets measured gets managed.”
When it comes to tracking your results, some key metrics were already described in the Action Item for Principle 3. Namely, that you needed to be tracking Conversion Ratio, Client Acquisition Cost, and Revenue Per Client.
Finally, especially when it comes to hashing out the quality (and weaknesses) of your lead list, you need to carefully watch your overall Response Rate… in other words: know exactly how many people respond to your communication (other than to opt-out). You need to be sure of exactly how many people are saying “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “not sure”, and “later”.
One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when it comes to building more profitable lead lists is the data accumulated from tracking past results. Using this data, you can replicate successful campaigns, understand & avoid future mistakes, and increase your average profit per customer … all by building better lists!
Go back over your most recent direct marketing and / or sales campaign to recall & revisit your key metrics. Particularly, focus on the ground-level Response Rate – the first disposition of a potential prospect. After first contact, what percentage of people immediately said “yes”? How many said “no”? Most importantly, how many said “maybe” or “later”?
For this action item, your objective is to go back over an old(er) campaign or list, and revisit everyone who said “maybe” or “later” who has (a) not become a customer, and (b) not opted-out entirely.
This process of re-visting “Cool” or “Cold” leads is one of the most efficient ways to quickly squeeze more profit out of any lead list. You should always ensure you have a system in place for following up until a potential client has either become your client or said a definitive, opting-out “no.”
First Steps Toward Building Your Lead Lists
Obviously, the easiest way to build a lead list is to simply buy one. There are numerous highly organized lead database & list services like Experian, Hoovers, Zoominfo, and Jigsaw where you can set your lead list criteria and instantly purchase & download sizable lead lists. Sometimes, this can be prohibitively expensive for smaller businesses, but there are also plenty of other ways. Obviously these sites got their data somewhere … the question is:
Will it be cheaper for you to get your data the old fashioned way, or simply to buy it from an established vendor?
And for this question, there’s no easy answer. I will definitely devote a future article to the topic of buying vs. building your own lead lists. For now, if you are wondering about this for your own business, your best bet is to contact some of our outsourcing experts here at AdminBetter. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to initiate a live chat during business hours … or simply contact us directly.