There are many ways to create a list - one of the easiest being to get your customer files from your accounts department. To build a list of prospects just offer a newsletter or information service on your website to capture prospects who are interested in your services. You could also ask your customers to introduce people they know to your company. Run some direct response advertising in the mail, print or broadcast media. Get your sales force to create a list of prospects for you by using the telephone to cold call and gradually build a list. Competitions or sweepstakes are another good way to generate large quantities of prospects. Sponsoring an event enables you to distribute surveys to all people who attend and capture relevant data about them. Trade shows and exhibitions offer another opportunity to capture prospect data. Compile all the responses into a database for future communication purposes.
The list trade business is perfectly legitimate and employs many people. In fact, it's a very sophisticated business requiring specialist knowledge, experience and patience. However there are some shonky operators that you need to watch out for - deal only with established companies with a successful track record, preferably members of your local Direct Marketing Association.
A mailhouse is a service organisation that inserts printed material such as letters, brochures and reply envelopes, into envelopes, sorts them for maximum postal discounts and then lodges them into the postal system.
Depending on its size, a mailhouse can provide a wide range of services including inserting printed material into envelopes, sealing them, and lodging them with the postal system at discounted rates, laser printing letters, brochures and envelopes to personalise the elements in your mailpacks, offer secure printing of valuable products such as cheques or invoices.
A number of mailhouses provide a bureau service for storage and management of databases. Some also provide a fulfilment service, and services for mailing financial statements and invoices on behalf of clients.
You can use an e-mail distributor for complete management of your campaign including an account manager who looks after your business, or you can use their services via web-based access and manage part of the campaign yourself, or you can use any number of emerging DIY services.
One of the benefits of using an e-mail house is they know the results of every campaign they send, because they provide the tracking technology for the click-throughs and responses. This means they can give you valuable advice when preparing your campaign. (You'll find a complete chapter on how to select e-mail houses in E-mail Marketing Made Easy).
A mailing list is a collection of names and addresses that can sometimes include titles, company names and other relevant contact data. They're usually stored as a computer database for easy access for mailing purposes. A telemarketing list usually contains the contact name, a telephone number and maybe company name and title, but doesn't always include the address details. An e-mail list may only have a name and an e-mail address - it depends what data the subscriber chooses to make available to you. When building an e-mail list, always try to capture a telephone number, in case you have to verify a wrong address because of a typographical error or bounced e-mail.
Mailing lists can be rented, bought or swapped for direct marketing use, assuming of course they comply with privacy laws. And they can consist of a few hundred names or a few hundred thousand.
SPAM is unwanted e-mail typically sent unsolicited to large numbers of recipients. It is growing daily and increasingly choking the in-boxes of e-mail users worldwide. There are absolutely no benefits to a marketer in spamming your customer file - just don't do it. You should always get permission to communicate with your customers and even remind them in your e-mail message about the list to which they have subscribed.
In simple terms, you can have two types of mailing lists - yours and someone else's. But the direct marketing industry usually divides mailing lists into three types:
House lists (a list of your customers - people or companies that are currently buying from you or have bought recently).
Response lists (a list of other peoples or companies customers)
Compiled lists (created mostly in the public domain - such as the electoral roll, telephone directories, association members - but because they're not compiled for purposes, they are the least responsive of all mailing lists).
If you're involved in business-to-business marketing, you may be tempted to put the e-mail addresses of your business card file onto a list to receive your newsletter and other messages. If you do so you will be considered a spammer. What you should do instead is send a solicitation e-mail inviting your business card list members to opt-in to subscribe to your newsletter.
Similar principles apply when marketing to consumers in that if you collect an e-mail address, you must make it clear to the addressee the purpose for which you are going to use that address. You cannot automatically subscribe them to your list unless they give you permission to do so.
The Spam Act now requires companies to comply with a code of conduct regarding e-mail messages. Contact the Australian Direct Marketing Association or the Privacy Commission for more information and guidelines.