List Management: Is Your Water Well Clean, or Dirty?


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Your list. It’s kind of like a water well. Do you make steps to ensure your well isn’t contaminated, has an ongoing stream of clean, pure water… Or are you leaving it open to any number of problems that could leave you extremely thirsty and destitute one day.

With the downturn in the economy lately, many marketers have been turning to their list for new opportunities. With the right strategy, your list can produce tons of revenue. The problem many of them will find is that they haven’t been treating their list very well over the past few years, so their results will be much lower than expected. It’s like trying to drink a tall glass of dirty water…

I’ve spent allot of time lately thinking about list management, because I’ve gotten allot of requests to run various offers to different lists. When these requests come up, I’m often surprised by some of the questions, or ideas that people, even marketing professionals propose for their lists.

If your business is dependent on generating and converting new leads into customers with your products and services, there are certain things that I believe you should really avoid doing to ensure your long-term success. I thought I’d list some of the biggest issues I see with certain list strategies.

Detrimental List Management Strategies Marketers use all the time

1. Selling your list to 3rd parties to generate “an income stream”

If you’re a media company that generates lists to sell as a core business model, then it makes sense to sell your lists regularly, and you should. However, if your primary objective is to generate a list to sell YOUR products and services. Why in the world would you sell your list for pennies on the dollar, If your list could be buying additional products and services from YOU? If this is you… your list buyer sees more value in your list than you do. Otherwise they wouldn’t be buying it, and you wouldn’t be selling it.

2. Sending the wrong offers, too often.

What is your relationship with your list? Do you view a potential prospect on your list as one more person to send spam to, or are you genuinely interested in finding products, services and content that will be perceived as valuable to your list? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is continually sending the same advertisements or irrelevant content, simply because you’re still getting a decent conversion. You need to be conscious of the unseen damage you can do by not offering value. Keep your list engaged.
3. Marketing an unrecognized brand
It’s your list. Your privacy policy states that you can do what you want with the list… Does that mean you should? In order to be successful, your prospects need to recognize your brand and see your content as valuable. If you don’t believe me, just compare the results of an offer from a recognizable brand with that of an unrecognized offer. I’ve found the best way to ensure a great response, and ongoing value from your list is to develop consistent communication and messaging to your list. I’ve also successfully converted a list from one brand to another, but in doing so; expect that you’ll develop greater attrition in your list.
Best Practices
We can learn allot through seeing the pitfalls that many marketers use in their list management strategy, but there are also many great ways to foster good will and conversion with your list. These are a few best practices that should be considered as well.
1. Develop good content
If you’ve acquired a new lead, there’s a reason they decided to give you their information. The trick is to keep them interested, and keep your brand at the top of mind. In the future, when they are ready to make a transaction, they’ll think of you instead of your competitors.
2. Affiliate Marketing
You don’t have to have a full-blown affiliate program to create opportunities with companies that have complementary products and services. I’d focus on companies which use effective list management practices. If they have a great relationship with their list, you can benefit from that by having them send YOUR offers to THEIR list, from THEM. This is where many people go wrong, or get confused. As mentioned above, it’s less effective to get someone else’s list, and send your offers. Whoever has the relationship should be sending the email offer or communicating regardless of the medium.
The question is… who would be willing to send your offer to their list for you? Can you make it worth their effort financially? I’ve also found that you should pitch it in a way that provides greater perceived value to their subscribers. They’ll appreciate you for it, even if they don’t see the immediate problem with diluting their brand with 3rd party offers. The key is finding truly compatible affiliates so you can both leverage the relationship long term.
In the end, you’ll be essentially skimming off the most active, respondent and interested list members from your affiliates list. You need to foster that relationship, because you’re getting long-term list benefit from this… If you develop the right ongoing message.
3. Cross-Market your own lists
While on a phone call with a potential client last week, I presented an idea that they hadn’t considered yet. The company offers Tax Relief services, similar to what you’re seeing on cable news ads lately. They’re considering moving into Debt Relief with a new product and brand. They’ve spent years generating leads through TV campaigns for their tax relief product. I mentioned that they should consider sending the Debt Relief offer to the Tax Relief list. The key is sending it from the recognizable brand, and push them into a new product or category. It’s easy to make a mistake here and send the Debt offer from the new Debt brand, which will only destroy your list for both products. In addition, you’ll likely get tons of SPAM abuse complaints through the users ISPs. See more on reputation management. That’ll only do wonders for your email delivery in all the wrong ways.
4. Create a central control point for your data
I’ve seen many instances where various groups, or departments can tap into the database and farm out your list to different internal and external groups. Business Dev, Marketing, Sales, Management can all be “creating opportunities” but actually causing conflict and ultimately damage your list. There needs to be a central point of control, so you have a roadmap detailing where and when your data is being sent. Otherwise, you could be sending conflicting offers or messages and you’ll be stepping all over each other. This type of practice is usually done in the name of progress, but usually only has negative effects.
The Bottom Line
This list is really short, doesn’t even include anything about technology or data management, list hyigene. The bottom line is that there are many strategies out there that you can use.
The key is using the right ones…
What are some list management techniques that you’ve seen or used that have been particularly effective? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Carson Poppenger
After building a process to contact, qualify, and convert legacy data into new sales opportunities, Carson Poppenger co-founded Squeeze ( to help other businesses accelerate sales, grow revenue, and increase profitability. He currently serves as president of the company and lives in Utah with his wife and three children.


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