When it comes to getting started with email marketing, one of the first things we ask our clients is, “who are your customers?” If they are able to quickly, succinctly answer this question, they are already well on their way to leveraging prospect data to get more customers. If not, or if the answer is a bit more obtuse, complicated or unknown -- which is very common – a bit more work up front will be required to ensure a successful customer acquisition campaign.
Essentially, to get more customers, it’s important to first understand your existing ones. This will allow you to attract more who share similar roles or demographics – in other words, prospects who “mirror” the customers you already have.
Here are 5 essential steps we use at OMI to perform audience mirroring to assist our clients in growing their customer base:
- Know your customer(s): Take a look at your existing customer database. What companies do they work for? What kinds of businesses do they have (i.e. industry), what are the sizes, and where are they located? Then consider the people they are – their roles, titles and functions; their levels within their organization (junior or senior); and their gender and any personality traits (adventurous? conservative?) that might characterize their personalities. If you offer numerous products that might have different customers, or a complex product that might have a user, purchaser and influencer, then you might have to segment your customers based on a number of specific criteria or conditions.
- Create customer personas: Assign your customers a persona, which is a semi-fictional representation of them based on real data that you’ve tracked and analyzed along with research data. Persona criteria can include demographics, behavior patterns, purchase motivations and end goals. The more detailed marketers can get in developing their personas the better, even to the point of creating an actual visual representation of the ideal customer, complete with a name, history and story behind their motivations. Ideally, as time goes on, you will collect historical data on the messages that have performed the best with each of your segments. If not, an A/B testing approach should be utilized until metric goals are achieved.
- Acquire prospect data that “mirrors” your customer base: With your customer personas created, you can now pursue prospect data that “looks like” your ideal customer. You should be able to make selections across a variety of fields including state, city, zip code, employee code, SIC and NAICS codes, and more. To support multi-channel marketing efforts (e.g. email, direct mail, telemarketing), you should acquire complete records for each business contact, including email address data, telephone, address, etc.
- API integration: Application Programming Interfaces (API) are a valuable option when it comes to email acquisition data, allowing you to download and integrate your data selections within your existing CRM and marketing automation platforms to streamline and simplify your email marketing efforts. Look for a provider that supports the right API appropriate to your company systems.
- Work with the experts: Work with an experienced data provider who will want to partner with you in your success, as opposed to someone who sells you a list of contacts and is gone quickly afterward. Select one that will allow you to license their email data as opposed to buying a one-time use list. This ensures your data is consistently cleansed and up to date because you will be able to purge hard-bounced, invalid email addresses over time. Going this route will also enable you to build and grow your in-house list as you engage with contacts throughout the pre-sale process. Finally, when working with a data provider, be sure to get a written email data validity guarantee: at OMI we guarantee a 95% validity rate for our acquisition email data upon delivery for 30 days.
Audience mirroring is something we see as an essential part of email marketing. It especially supports our new clients in reaching the right audiences, and puts them on track for garnering new ones. And that’s the kind of win that reflects well on everyone.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.