Monday, December 7, 2009

Contact Acquisition

Many companies aren't always certain where to start when they tackle the task of building up their house lists (prospect & customer marketing databases) for future marketing and demand generation. When asked, I've maintained that a contact acquisition strategy should be included in the overall lead management strategy at the outset of any new lead management initiative at an organization.

When I talk about contact acquisition, I'm referring to those contact records you own (or have access to) that comprise the initial database source/s that you will aim your offers/messages at in hopes of generating interest (and leads) for your solution or service.

Ideally you would identify multiple contact data streams that would flow into your lead gen machine on a regular basis, feeding the campaigns you build and filling your funnel with the responses that evolve into qualified leads. And hopefully many of these streams would be economically sustainable over the long haul.

The question is -- where do you start? For many the first place they go is to a list broker (person or firm that specializes in procuring contact lists for use in marketing campaigns). I don't disagree that a good list broker should be part of an overall contact acquisition strategy. But list rental can be expensive ($150-400 CPM for B2B email lists) and reap poor results (open rates <15%, CTR .25-.75%).

List rental, data services (such as Jigsaw, Hoover's, InfoUSA), paid and organic search, content syndication, newsletter sponsorships, trade shows and events all should be important channels for contact acquisition (with special attention paid to acquisition cost and ROI).

But I also try to bring in as many easy, low-cost channels as I can when brain-storming ways to acquire new contacts for my campaigns. Simple things like adding a compelling link/offer to all company email sig files are free and simple ways to build your lists through transactional and customer service/support emails.

Remember to make all your web pages landing pages, with a newsletter sign-up field on every page as well as a gated offer or two (demo, webinar). With effective SEO, website visitors can be coming into your web site through other ways than the front door (home page) - make it easy for them to sign up to learn more about the problems you solve (and your company's solutions).

Also look to your marketing, sales and alliance partners to trade access to proprietary contacts with a message or offer that may be appealing to their list members.

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