5 Tips to Find High Performance Segmented B-to-B Prospect Lists

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It’s no secret that business-to-business mailing lists are often small, and many are not even available. Some list owners who are willing to rent their buyer names to you do not offer selections on their lists that would help you better target your potential buyers. Sometimes list owners will not even let you separate buyers from inquiries or prospects.

Here are 5 tips to help you find or build segmented prospect b-to-b lists that produce the best ROI and lowest cost to acquire a buyer of your own:

Find your audience
Start with a knowledge of who your typical buyers and best buyers are, not a guess, but a factual profile based on demographic and behavioral data. If you do not have enough data to put a profile together, you can buy data to append and/or use data from a large public database.

There are public databases that contain compiled demographic information, like how many employees a company has, and databases that offer behavioral or purchasing information, such as what kinds of products companies buy and how often.

Some databases offer both. Because b-to-b purchases are sometimes large and made infrequently, you may want to compare the purchasing data you have on your buyers to see how much and how often and what products and services they purchase from other companies. Do not stop at first purchases; make sure you look for segments of long time repeat buyers and make a profile of them.

Ask questions
Learn all you can about the lists you are attempting to gain access to with your promotion. Who maintains each list? Is it cleaned regularly? How? If there are segments, how are they created? Is the data good? Ask these questions of the list owner or a knowledgeable list broker or manager. They have experience and can help you select carefully.

Consider purchase histories
Consider segments that are often offered on mailing lists, such as what channel the buyer chose to make the purchase, the recency of the purchase, the total dollar amount of the purchase, the frequency of purchases by the individual or business and the type of products the individual or business purchases.

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Set up a well controlled test to measure the relative performance of each list and each segment. For example, a buyer may be part of several different segments. If you select him to test as a high tech product buyer, he may not also show up when you later choose the maintenance product buyer segment to test, because he is also a maintenance product buyer. If this happens often enough, it can skew your results.

As it is, many b-to-b lists are small and produce small response rates. Tests may not produce enough orders and sales dollars for a statistically significant result. Retest small b-to-b lists several times to confirm the results.

Negotiate
If the list you want does not have the selections you want, maybe you can make a deal to create segments that will benefit you and your list owner. The list may not even be on the market. Ask anyhow! In return, you may get an exceptional list price, unlimited use and/or exclusive use.

Consider your segments
Remember what segments mean in a b-to-b list. Because of the complex and long buying cycle of many high priced b-to-b products and/or services, you may need to convince a committee of people, ranging from the purchasing agent to the CEO and CFO, but you may only have access to the name of the person signing the purchasing order.

Therefore, look at performance by site (company) as well as by individual and by the total marketing spend you invested in that site versus what you invested in individuals by name at that site. Of course, you will need to further compare these numbers to the orders and sales dollars you get when you test the list and those you get on future repeat purchases from these same individuals and companies.

Site performance is critical in b-to-b. Convincing more new individuals by name to buy from the good companies you already have on your database is often a lucrative form of prospecting called site penetration. Happy hunting!

Mary Ann Kleinfelter is president and owner of marketing consultancy Marketing Solutions Today.

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