03 December 2006

So what's in a name

There are plenty of people in the world who repeat the mantra "build the list, build the list" without thinking too carefully about the quality of the contacts in the list. For me, quality is key.

Building a list of undifferentiated names who may never buy from you sounds like a waste of effort to me, akin to buying undifferentiated traffic for a website. At root, this argument is about coverage. If you put your message in front of 10,000 names then that must be 10x better than putting it in front of 1,000 names, mustn't it? Err, no - not if the additional 9,000 are added to the list simply to give it a thud factor if you ever get around to printing it out. The theory is that some of the 9,000 will like your offer so much they will buy, or will know someone who might buy so they will pass it on to someone else. That may be true, but none of it is guaranteed, and depending on what you are selling, it is quite possible that if you didn't work hard to build the first 1,000 names then you probably wouldn't break even on the remaining 9,000 if you charged your time at full value.

This thinking about lists comes from mail order which can be highly scaleable for all kinds of offers. Bear in mind though, that the highest efficiency in mail order comes from list targeting, and the highest efficiency lists are those which comprise buyers for similar products. The argument about scalability is true - it all depends on what you are scaling.

The offers on our websites are attractive to someone who is looking for something a little different. UK Retail Ltd is boasting about its 25% reductions ahead of Christmas. We offer value competition - a series of products each of which has their own story which can be thought about or retold whenever someone uses the product. That's not an offer that's compelling to everyone which is why we are so keen to make sure our lists contain prospects, not just names.

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