How to build and manage marketing lists

Transform your marketing conversion rates with better marketing lists.

If you’re trying to grow your business, the use of targeted marketing messages that are relevant to your audience, just when they are considering buying, is a great way to convert more sales and boost revenue. Clever marketers focus their outbound marketing efforts on people that are currently in the market for their products or services. In this article I share some guidance on how to build a great marketing list and use segmentation to increase your conversion rates.

Buyers in today’s market

Many of today’s buyers will research brands, social media content and reviews before they buy anything. By delivering this information straight to the buyer we can make it easier for them to buy, ultimately converting more sales and reducing the length of your sales cycle as you go.

Outbound marketing techniques have been used for years to convert prospects into sales. But the most successful outbound marketing strategies rely on great quality marketing list, and the very best are those that have been grown in-house.

Capturing details of people that have visited your website, downloaded some content, signed up for a free trial or webinar for example, is one way to build your list. These prospects have already engaged with your brand and are actively in the market, making them gold dust for marketers. Best of all, these ‘warm’ leads are proven to deliver much higher conversion rates than ‘cold’ prospects gained from a purchased list.

Building your lists

You can use marketing campaigns to drive people to your website or purpose built landing pages in order to build your list. The stronger the offering in your marketing campaign, the more chance you have of capturing an email address to add to your marketing list. The channels you choose to advertise on will depend on where your target market hang out. For consumer products advertising on Facebook and Instagram may work well, whereas for B2B offerings platforms such as LinkedIn, industry partners and sector organisations may be a better place to advertise.

Forms play an essential role in capturing data to add to your marketing lists. Embed a form in your landing page or web page to capture contacts’ email addresses and names as an absolute minimum. You can use forms to capture other relevant data such as company size or sector that may help you segment your data further, but I always suggest asking for just the essential information first, with the option of building on your information throughout the marketing process (check out the form at the bottom of this page as an example).

The role of data segmentation in outbound marketing

I always recommend starting the segmentation process from the very day you start capturing data as you’ll find the whole process a lot easier. Segmentation is a powerful tool to ensure that follow up communication to your audience is relevant. The last thing you want to do when you have worked hard to build a list is to push your audience out of the buying cycle and have them unsubscribe just because your follow up content fails to hit the mark.

Given that you know what the people on your list have shown an interest in, you should be able to create marketing messages that are tailored around topics relevant to them.

Offering relevant and timely messages will attract higher open rates, click thru rates and ultimately more conversions. Segmenting you list can be as simple as splitting it into customers and prospects, or as complex as looking at which particular content they have viewed along with a number of different demographics including geography, age, company size, sector, sex etc. I suggest not making it too complicated when you first get started.

When you first consider segmenting your marketing data, it is often useful to consider how you want to communicate with different audiences. For example, how you can tailor your messages to your prospect’s needs and make them more relevant to their interests? In this way you are more likely to make your messages stimulate interest and encourage a purchase.

Don’t forget that segmentation is also a good tool to enable you to analyse results separately in order to make business decisions.

But how do you segment your data and what’s the best way to manage your lists?

How to manage your data

The best way to manage your lists are by using a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. If you’re looking to grow your business then a CRM tool also gives you a good foundation into marketing automation. I suggest considering marketing automation features when you choose which CRM system to go for.

Personally I like Hubspot, having used a few CRM tools in my time. The reason for this is that it offers a free CRM and email marketing tool as a basic level, with upgrade options should your business need them. As one of the leading tools on the market, most well respected automation tools will integrate with Hubspot to allow you to pull data from their CRM system into a marketing automation platform should you decided to choose a different automation tool down the line. In short, Hubspot will give you options down the line and is free to get you started. The final reason I love Hubspot is because it is so user friendly so getting up and running with it is a doddle.

Get started with Hubspot

I’ll talk you through how to set up and manage your marketing lists with Husbpot but these steps should be applicable to most CRM systems.

  1. Most CRMs will allow you to add contacts and companies separately. This means that you can have multiple contacts assigned to a company and keeps your data nice and clean. With Hubspot, whenever you get a new contact, you add them to your contact list and assign them to a company (or create a new company if it is not already in your system). Adding a contact is simple, you simply go to the ‘Contacts’ tab at the top of the page, then ‘create contact’ and fill in the relevant fields. Your ‘Contacts’ screen will show you all of your contacts, with the most recently amended ones at the top. In the image below I am just showing one contact because of data protection.

When you go into a contact (by clicking on the name in the list), you have a wealth of fields that you can adapt and use to segment your data. Hubspot goes into a lot of depth on this so you’ll never be limited by what information you can records against each contact. And because all of these fields are searchable, you can create lists and reports based on any field with a contact.

What’s important here is to try to standardise the text being recorded to searchable options, which is why I tend to avoid ‘free text’ entry as much as possible and instead opt for drop down pick lists when creating new fields. This ensures that you don’t end up with “financial services” and “finance” as options in the industry sector field for example.

What’s really nice with Hubspot is that upon entry of an email address it automatically picks up an avatar based on the domain. You can see in the above image that I have yet to assign a company to this contact. When we assign a company to a contact, Hubspot will automatically pick up the details on that company and fill in a lots of information for you including address, size, sector, LinkedIn profile and description. Welcome to the first part of automating your marketing – with Hubspot it’s pure joy.

So you can see it’s pretty easy to build your contacts up and manage them in Hubspot. You can import existing marketing lists from other applications such as Excel in order to avoid manual input, and integrate Hubspot with your website to automate the input of data generated by forms.

Once you are using forms to gather data you can get clever with autoresponders which will instantly respond to people who submit forms, giving you a really professional appearance.

How to use autoresponders

Why segment your lists?

As I’ve already mentioned, when using outbound marketing (email, direct mail etc) to promote your business, your conversion rates will increase the more relevant your messaging is. For example, if someone has downloaded a template to create a disaster recovery plan for their business, then following up with emails offering further tools on the subject of disaster recovery are likely to get really good open rates.

You can create a series of emails that include videos, how to guides, webinar invitations, maybe even ending in the offer of a free consultation. Those who book a consultation are likely to still need help and may hopefully go on to become a customer of yours.

Think how powerful it is to provide your marketing list with information and tools that they are interested in, when they are interested in it. By highlighting all of the contacts in your database that have shown an interest in disaster recovery, you can send them relevant content on the exact topic they are interested in, when they have shown an interest in it. And it’s simple to enable this, all you need to be able to do is find the data using segmentation and create a list.

Within the contact fields in Hubspot, you can create a new field and name it ‘product’ for example, creating a drop-down menu with the product options you offer. You can fill in the value for this field as contacts are added to Hubspot (better still, automate this process with a web hook from a form so the information goes straight into Hubspot). This enables you to create marketing lists of contacts where “product = disaster recovery” for example, and easily send a sequence of emails to those in the list. Email sequencing can also be automated and I talk about email automation tools in a separate article.

Creating fields in Hubspot

It’s easy to add fields in Hubspot. Just click on your name at the top right of the screen and go down to ‘Profile and Preferences’ then click on ‘Properties’. Here you can add and amend fields to set them up for you.

Creating Lists

When you’re ready to create a marketing list, head over to ‘Contacts’ on your main dashboard and click on ‘Lists’. Here you can go to ‘Create List’ and choose the properties in your fields that you want to use to build your lists from.

Once you’ve got your lists prepared you’re all set to go with marketing to your contacts with great content that’s relevant and timely.

I advise backing up your data every so often to ensure that if your CRM provider does encounter a problem (Hubspot did have a big outage a while back which took a few days to recover from so it’s always good practice to take a backup for your own peace of mind).

Email Marketing

If you’re looking at email marketing as a way to communicate with your lists then you may want to explore which email marketing tools is best to give you the functionality you need.In the article below I discuss my favourite 2 options but there are many more out there to choose from.

Which email marketing tool?

So that’s all you need to get building lists and segmenting your data. If you follow these guidelines you should see your conversion rates really take off.

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