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New users of Prospect Download online mailing list service from Selectabase are being offered free trials of business or consumer marketing data. Anyone creating a new online account will now receive 50 free credits to try out the Prospect Download service. The list credits can be used to source and download some sample data from the business or consumer databases, to use in a sample direct marketing campaign.

The credits are valid for a whole 12 months and can be used to test the quality and accuracy of Prospect Download data, as well as experiencing just how easy it is to source and purchase list data online.

Using the free credits data can be sourced from two datasets. Business lists can be selected using a wide range of criteria such as location, trading format, industry, turnover, staff, job title and many more. Consumers can also be selected by age, gender, location, income, lifestyle, property type and so on.

Credits will also be given to any existing Prospect Download web users who have not yet purchased from the service. To receive the credits existing Selectabase website users just need to sign in and visit Prospect Download, or new users can get started here:

According to the latest search trends from Google, interest in Direct Mail has grown to it's highest level in 2011.

The data from Google Insights, a free tool from Google, shows UK searches for 'direct mail' from the start of 2006 to 2011 to date. The resulting graph shows that the second quarter of 2011 in particular saw increased interest in direct mail following a fall in searches in the second half of 2010.

Despite the ongoing economic situation and the wider use of digital marketing and social media, it appears that interest in direct mail continues to be solid.

Graph of UK Searches for 'Direct Mail' from 2006 to 2011 (Source: Google Insights)

google insights direct mail searches

Click on the image to see larger version

Selectabase have responded to customer demand by launching a new direct mail fulfilment service called Create and Post. The service aims to offer a low cost and simple way to send mailing letters to Selectabase databases or any other mailing lists.

Using Create and Post small businesses can send their introductory personalised mailing letter to their list for just 41p each plus VAT which includes colour printing, paper, envelopes, postage and fulfilment. A £25 set up fee per client also applies. The Create and Post team set up the mailing for the client including adding database fields into the letter.

The mailing service can be used to send letters to mailing lists of prospects and potential customers purchased from Selectabase, but can also be used to mail in-house lists of customers or data from other sources.

To send a mailing with Create and Post just contact the team on 01304 382211 or from Create and Post.

Sometimes the sourcing of a mailing list, deciding what to send and arranging fulfillment can all distract you from what offer you are actually going to include in the mailing.

It’s always fine to stay in touch with contacts and customers using a standard letter without an offer, but if your campaign is designed to generate new business then you really need to include an attractive incentive.

There are many types of offer you can use; free trials, money off, buy one get one free, upsells, cross sells and so on. Let’s look at some scenarios when an offer could prove really powerful in a mailing:

  • A restaurant mails lists of local consumers celebrating a birthday with a letter introducing their establishment, and including a voucher for a free drink or bottle of house wine with a meal. To finesse the offer further it could apply to lunches when the restaurant is normally quieter, or be limited to a larger group to get more people through the door.
  • A DIY store wants to let people who’ve just moved into the area know about them, as new home movers are more likely to need home improvement and DIY products. It mails out a voucher for 10% off when they spend over £50.
  • A book-keeper targets new start ups in their local area with a letter explaining their services and offering a 50% discount on the first month’s service to trial their service. They know that once a client sees how much easier it is to use their bookkeeping service, they are likely to stay with them for a while.
In summary, if you are going to the trouble and expense of mailing new prospects, go the extra mile and make them an offer they can’t refuse.

In many business sectors things can quiet down during the summer period, making it the ideal time to carry out data cleansing on your marketing lists.

Data cleansing is an important and valuable exercise. Accurate data can help improve response rates and targeting for marketing campaigns and if your business is a Data Controller you have an obligation to keep your data up to date under the Data Protection Act.

Data becomes out of date all the time. Consumers can move house, relocate, opt into the Telephone or Mailing Preference Services and sadly even pass away. Business contacts can move job, businesses relocate or change ownership, open new branches or register with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS).

You may several hold many different types of mailing lists and databases within your organisation, all of which could need regular cleansing:

  • Existing customers who are currently ordering from you or who have visited your premises.
  • Previous or old customers, who haven’t ordered for some time.
  • Leads and enquiries gathered from your marketing activities like your website.
  • Lists of marketing prospects in databases you may have purchased.
Often different departments may hold the same data in different ways which can create a need for de-duplicating records, and you could also consider investing into a central CRM system which controls all your customer records across all your departments.

An easy way to clean your data is using our Easy Check list cleaning software. Just download the free software, then pay for list cleaning as you go using low cost credits.

When calculating the return on investment (ROI) of a direct marketing campaign it’s important to bear in mind the lifetime value of a client, not just the initial order value.

Let’s assume you are an accountant, and your average fee income is maybe £700 per year per client. That’s the average of sole traders just needing self assessment tax returns up to limited companies needing full annual returns and VAT.

Then assume that a client stays with your accountancy practice for 3 years (in reality most accountants probably keep their clients for far longer as the accountancy sector isn’t generally known for a high turnover of clients).

So this gives an average new client lifetime value of £2100. Looking at this figure a business can decide how much is an acceptable sales or marketing cost to gain this client.

For example a cost of sales of 10% means that the business can afford to spend £210 to gain each new client.

Then let’s look at the cost of sending a mailing to gain these new clients. If an accountant mailed 500 prospects from our Prospect Download Business database the campaign might cost about £375 (75p each for postage, data costs, printing and so on).

On a conservative conversion rate of just 1% (although direct mail can achieve up to 5% or more) this would generate 5 new clients at an acquisition cost of £75 each, well under the allowance of £210.

Put another way the mailing to 500 prospects only needs to gain just 1.5 new clients to cover its costs!

It just demonstrates that you sometimes need to look beyond the initial acquisition cost to determine the longer term profitability of a new client.

How does direct mail fit into a multichannel approach to marketing?

Multi-channel marketing uses the full suite of marketing tools available to today’s business to open up multiple communication channels between themselves and their market; channels which can be used to capture data, promote, purchase and share.

Multichannel marketing tools embrace the traditional direct mail, advertising and sales promotion combined with the new generation of digital channels such as email marketing, websites, SMS, Mobile marketing and social media, all with the aim of making it easier for the customer to interact with the business or brand in a way that suits them.

Recent studies have apparently shown that cross-channel marketing drives consumers to spend up to ten times more than single-channel marketing. Of course to achieve these results different multi-channel tools need to be used at the right time, just as with traditional marketing campaign models.

For example whilst social media has received much of the attention recently, as a lead generation tool direct mail may be more effective in the early stages of a campaign. Recently, business expert Matt Eve of expressed the view that social media was too time consuming as a sales tool due to the insatiable demand for content and many small businesses would be better off investing their time into direct mail.

Multichannel marketing also creates numerous opportunities for data collection and sharing between marketing tools, insights which can be exploited by using direct mail or emails in a more frequent smaller scale and targeted manner.

This does create the need for direct mail to become more flexible and stealthy as opposed to large scale mailings of the past, but fortunately some of the latest technology in areas like hybrid mail make mailings far more targetable on a granular level than in the past.

We love this visual on why direct mail is holding it’s own in the digital age, as originally seen on The Agitator fundraising blog.

The latest figures for UK consumers and business which have chosen not to receive unsolicited mailing or phone calls highlight the need for businesses to screen and clean their data on a regular basis.

Figures released by Selectabase to their existing customers earlier this month show that there are now:

  • 16,655,954 home telephone numbers in the UK are now registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) as not wanting to receive unsolicited phone calls.
  • 1,981,374 business phone numbers in the UK are registered with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) as not wanting to receive unsolicited phone calls.
  • 5,100,593 individuals are registered with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) as not wanting to receive unsolicited letters or mailings.
  • 49,240 consumers recently moved home in the UK resulting in a change of address.
The latest figures illustrate just how great the chance that your data includes records that you should not mail or call.

Selectabase offer a number of simple ways to check your lists or even individual phone numbers against the latest suppression files. For example TPS Check lets you check phone numbers online against the TPS and CTPS, while Easy Check allows you to clean your lists from your desktop.

Case studies show a direct link between direct mail and increases in restaurant visitors, according to a postcard printing company in the US.

The mailings carried out in Florida and other regions of the US show how restaurants can get more footfall and trade when they need it, through regular direct mail.

Ideas for restaurants to get the most of mailings also include featuring coupons, weekly special offers or seasonal meal promotions. The mailing sent can be as simple as a branded postcard with the restaurant offer, location, branding and a map if needed.

Mailings can be targeted to local consumers who fit a specific target market profile such as young families or affluent greys, to consumers who’ve just moved into the area, consumers about to celebrate a birthday or even local small businesses which can be a good market for business lunches or office parties.

Selectabase offer a range of specialist direct mail lists for restaurant marketing.

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