More than ever, we have the ability to send direct, relevant messages to targeted prospects. Advances in information technology have increased our opportunities to turn target audiences into leads, leads into prospects, and prospects into customers.
Often, the conversion process of getting a prospect to take action can be achieved simply by delivering the appropriate message with a call to action to target markets who have been selected by their buyer behavior, and demographic, psychographic, and geographic segmentation characteristics. Relatively inexpensive advertising online through platforms like social media and Google provides excellent opportunities for broad and narrow targeting, Additionally, email marketing to prospects acquired through advertising or proprietary contacts gives companies large and small a method for delivering targeted and individual messages that build relationships while driving conversion.
At the heart of both of these processes, though, is the ubiquitous and dreaded contact list. Whether we acquire contacts through conversion at the end of the funnel or through the normal course of doing business and meeting people, adding to and maintaining lists becomes an extremely important marketing task. Two examples of marketing activities that are near and dear to our hearts and that rely on the accuracy and size of contact lists are cross channel marketing with variable data printing, and email marketing.
Variable data printing adds personalization to printed pieces by incorporating individual information per recipient that's pulled from a contact list. In this case, the accuracy of the recipient address insures delivery, and the correct recipient name will personalize the message and increase the probability that they'll take action. So, possession of an accurate and up-to-date list is critical to cross channel marketing campaigns utilizing variable data printing.
Similarly, email newsletters and marketing campaigns rely on accurate lists as the foundation to success. For small to medium size businesses with limited resources, though, the maintenance of lists is always a challenge. The key to addressing the mandatory, laborious task of maintaining good contact lists is to develop a system that can work within the structure of the company and its human capital. Because contacts are added from many different sources, like inquiries, promotions, sales staff, and email databases it's essential that a system for aggregating this information is in place and working. For some, this may require the assistance of a third party to drive the process. This, of course, will lead to additional expense, but the investment is worth absolutely every penny as along as marketing and email campaigns are planned and implemented with regularity and focus.
There are some cool programs and apps that can help with the process. Cardmunch is a LinkedIn affiliate app that enables you to take a photo of a business card with your smart phone and upload it to your contacts. Snap is an app developed by Infusionsoft that follows the same process and uploads contacts to the Infusionsoft contact database. These are just a small , fun part of the contact database maintenance process, and the key is to incorporate these and other structured activities that ensure you're able to take advantage of targeted marketing with the latest available technology.