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Archive for August, 2013

Taxi Business Data Lists

Taxi companies will appear on most business data lists, yet they are probably the most unwanted of all industry classifications.

So why are they such an issue, and what can be done about it? There are four key reasons that taxi companies become an issue when specifying business data for marketing;

 

1. Vertical Market Selection: Transport Sector

Taxi companies sit within the Transport Sector. And although it would be normal to consider this sector to predominantly contain couriers, shipping and road haulage companies, taxis also reside in this sector. If considered carefully, to what other possible sector could they belong?

A similar example would be to select the “Education Sector”. Within this sector you would expect schools, colleges, universities, training companies and could even understand nurseries. But the industry classification which is perhaps the least expected is driving schools. There are many thousands of them, and they are not the kind of environment where you may wish to market books, pencils and other educational equipment.

 

2. Company Size Selection

Another typical business data brief would be to select all large companies (say, 50+ employees) within a given catchment area. And here is where the unwanted taxi firms pop up yet again. There may be just two or three people actually employed within the company, with each driver being self-employed or contracted. Either way., for the purpose of reflecting a company’s size, taxi firms will generally tot up the total number of people working for the company; and that includes all the drivers on the books. So it becomes commonplace that taxi operations are classified as having more than 50 employees from the perspective of the business data selection.

 

3. Office Premises

In marketing to office premises, businesses will usually have an office related product or service. Such as office cleaning, office equipment, stationery or even IT services. Each one of these services will usually target businesses by a minimum employee size (e.g. 10+) to ensure a reasonable sized sales opportunity. Cleaning an office with 10 staff will possibly mean 2 – 4 hours worth of cleaning per week. But a taxi firm is typically one person behind a desk, operating a phone and single p.c.. So the IT company would not be best chuffed with this opportunity either; 10+ employees in an office will typically mean there is a server linking all the p.c.s, where as a taxi operation is unlikely to have this. But how else could a taxi company be classified? They are not factories, medical centres or even retail outlets in the regular sense.

 

It becomes easy to appreciate why business data selections should apply a “special case scenario” to taxi firms; although some marketing campaigns would welcome them, in many cases they are a blatant and unwanted anomaly. And this is made worse by …

 

4. Population Count

There are some 17,000 taxi companies within the UK. Taking one postcode area as an example (Birmingham), a general business list selection from this region would include more than 300 taxi firms. That is a lot of unwanted data if these are not your target market. By contract, there are only circa 60 taxidermist companies UK-wide, so if these were unwanted (from a pool of over 3million records) then they would hardly dilute the power of your marketing initiative by including them. And that’s the point; there are so many taxi firms that their undesired inclusion would weaken any marketing database.

 

So What Can Be Done?

At Responsiva, one of the first questions you are asked is what product or service you supply. And the very reason for this question is so that consideration may be given to potentially undesirable industry classifications and other pitfalls. It is commonplace that a company would tell Responsiva that they have historically purchased a business list which includes them, ridiculing the b2b data supplier for not understanding their target market. It is true that business data suppliers sell on volume, so by including undesirable taxi firms within the marketing list usually means their sale value is higher. But it would be wrong to suggest any malpractice that they have attempted to pepper the file with useless prospects simply to up the sale value. It is far more probable that the client was serviced by an inexperienced account manager who simply didn’t understand the business universe well enough to know that taxi firms are one of the main anomalies when it comes to selecting business data.

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Marketing Data For A September Mailing

From past experience, the busiest two times for postal mailing activity are January and September. These months tie in nicely to reach the highest volume of recipients, with holiday absences being less prevalent. They are generally well aligned with marketing budgets; starting the year off with a flurry of activity. With a Summer sales review, marketing data campaigns are typically planned for September.

If the b2b mailing list has 4,000 records or more, there are significant cost savings to be made, both from a data list sourcing perspective and the postage. Mailsort discount applies from this volume, enjoying a massive discount on the regular cost of posting. With affiliations to mailing houses, Responsiva will refer you to a specialist in this area if desired.

The marketing data must be chosen to best fit your target audience. Working from what is probably the best single source business universe within the UK, Responsiva brokers data lists from a combined database of more than three million business records UK-wide. The prospect data can be selected by company size, geography, vertical market and premise type, in addition to the required contact fields such as senior decision makers and full company name and postal address.

The business universe receives updates on a monthly basis, ensuring that the data is as fresh as possible. Mailing gone-aways are usually in the region of 1%, and are guaranteed to be below 2%. This conforms with the marketing data industry standards and provides you with a high quality marketing file from which to deliver your sales message. Although Responsiva are not experts in marketing letter content writing, our recommendations are as follows;

  • Keep the message short; to a single side of paper if possible. Several pages of text will most likely be discarded by your prospect. Less is definitely more.
  • Do not send out expensive leaflets or brochures; these should be saved for the responders to your marketing letters. Indeed the letter should give mention that you will supply further literature if desired, and leave them with some questions so that they do respond.
  • Explain some (just a few) of the key benefits of working with your organisation.
  • Provide a very brief overview of your company’s experience in your field of expertise. This can be as short as “we have serviced more than 1,000 customers over the past 20 years“.
  • Offer something for free if you can. Ideally a sample of some kind. Let the prospect trial your service before they commit to anything longer term.
  • Ensure your letter has a call to action; what should your prospect do now?

The last point is key. It is all very well explaining the benefits of your company and how long you have been in business, but this is of limited value if you do not explain what you would like the prospect to do in response to your letter. The most simple of answers being that you would like them to call or email you to request further information, arrange an appointment or simply to take advantage of your free samples.

If you are considering a marketing campaign for September then now is the best time to contact Responsiva regarding the b2b mailing list you will needing for that campaign. After agreeing the specification with you, for your target market, Responsiva will supply you with some free samples. It is recommended that you use the remaining time in August to contact these samples (preferably by phone) to verify the marketing data quality and sense-check that they would be good prospects for you. And that being the case, hopefully you will come back by month end to source the full b2b mailing list for the September initiative.

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List Broker Customer Survey

New customers at Responsiva are invited to register their feedback on our list broker service, around two weeks from receipt of their prospect data list. This survey comprises five key questions and a free-text field for open comments. Approximately 200 customers have taken part.

The first three questions are ranked 1 to 5, with “1” being excellent (or the most positive score) and “5” being poor, or the most negative. For the purpose of the first three questions, Repsonsiva have allocated a percentage score as follows:

Score %
1 100%
2 75%
3 50%
4 25%
5 0%

 

 

 

Q1. Rank Responsiva’s speed of service.

Average score = 1.20. Percentage equivalent = 95%

Responsiva prides itself in offering an incredibly fast service. If we have some counts to run or a b2b data order to deliver then we strive to get the project delivered quickly. Usually (90% of the time) within 30 minutes, and at worst before 9am the following working day.

 

Q2. Rank the price you paid for the data.

Average score = 2.17. Percentage equivalent = 71%.

The price point is always a sensitive area. All companies want to make an honest profit, whilst being reasonable and fair with the price. Had this score been in excess of 75% then Responsiva’s data lists would probably be “too cheap”. And a score below 50% would suggest the price was too high. So we continue to monitor this percentage and strive to maintain it between 60% and 75%.

Some list brokers charge minimum order values of £250, whilst others are as high as £1,000. Responsiva comes in below these figures to ensure that companies looking for a small business list do not pay over the odds for it, priding ourselves as a fair-priced list broker.

 

Q3. Was the data accurately specified.

Average score = 1.48. Percentage equivalent = 88%.

Judging from the occasional comment, customers frequently confuse this question with the quality of data or even their results from a campaign. The question is more akin to the brief, rather than the data quality or campaign results. However, all points are pertinent. Where Responsiva have dropped points tends to be customers who experience unsatisfactory levels of new business appointments from their telemarketing. This is not a fair measurement of the prospect data, as other factors come into the equation. However, on the two occasions in the last three years where customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the data quality (usually a high volume of email bounces in excess of 5%) a refund has been given where appropriate.

 

Q4. Would you buy from Responsiva again?

  • Yes: 83.3%
  • Maybe: 15%
  • No: 1.7%

More than 98% of customers said they would or might buy b2b data from Responsiva again. This is the biggest indicator that our list broker service is fist class, backed up by the fact that the vast majority of orders come from repeat customers.

 

Q5. Would you like Responsiva to introduce a loyalty scheme?

  • Yes: 43%
  • Maybe: 42%
  • No: 15%

The interesting point about a loyalty scheme for business data services is that we have tried this before; in 2011. Customers received points for every prospect data record purchased, redeemable at year end. Only one customer actually went on to redeem those points, despite reminders.

The scheme itself required administration, and for that reason proved more time consuming than it was worth. In general it seems that most customers would simply prefer a great service, accurate data lists and a fair price.

 

Customer Feedback

At the end of the questionnaire, customers are invited to give free text comments about their experience with Responsiva’s data list broking service. The most recent ten comments are listed below, cut word for word;

  1. Thanks very much for all your help.
  2. Thanks!
  3. Great service, called up as we had tried lots of other providers and was helped straight away – really appreciated it. Thanks
  4. Data report not received from telemarketing agency as of todays date so unsure of accuracy of data.
  5. Toby is a great guy to work with. I’ve only worked with Responsiva once, so do not know what can be improved on, as I really enjoyed my experience with him.
  6. Overall the service was good along with good advice
  7. First time I’ve used them, so its too early to say, but overall i have had a good level of service.
  8. Service is attentive and responsive
  9. This was a new venture for me personally, I would get my client to deal direct with Responsiva next time.
  10. We have bought from a few companies and this is the best data we have had so far.

 

 

 

 

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Is telemarketing data still valid?

The four main paths for direct marketing use telemarketing data, postal mailing data or email and fax broadcasting data. And each initiative has a differing success rate and associated cost.

Perhaps the most misleading cost of all is the perception that once a database of email addresses has been purchased, all subsequent marketing to them is either free or comes with an exceptionally low rate for the email broadcasting. The true cost of email marketing is the data list purchase itself when compared to the exceptionally low response rate. This is not to say that all email marketing has a low response rate, but cold emails from your first contact with a business will inevitably be disappointingly low unless the offering is exceptionally compelling. Indeed response rates can be as low as one for every 10,000 emails.

Fax broadcasting received adverse publicity some years ago, after unscrupulous traders appreciated that most fax machines were attended by office admin staff and many broadcasts were along the lines of “what do you think of XYZ? Tick box A or B and fax back to us”. The small print stated that the fax back would cost (say) £5 and without giving this point much consideration, the otherwise bored admin staff did just that. So unless there is a specific reason why fax marketing would be the most suitable avenue for your business, it is not an initiative Responsiva will generally recommend.

The particular value of postal mailings is that they are the least intrusive of the four main channels. Companies with a possible interest may either respond, discard your letter or (as frequently occurs) keep the letter until the time is right for them to respond. And although the postage costs are high, these can be reduced considerably for larger volumes of 4,000 or more units. Typical response rates are in the region of 1% – 1.5%. So a postal mailing would probably best suit a company who’s client lifetime value exceeds £250.

The most ‘expensive’ of all initiatives is telemarketing. Adding the costs of the telemarketing data to the human resource element, the cost of a single dial can be as high as £2 – £2.50, so it is important to make sure that every call counts. The first stage is to ensure the targeting is ideal; market only to the businesses of the right size, geography and business types. But also the scripting must be well honed and the telemarketer must have the right enthusiasm and passion to make the calls. The campaign will not yield well if any of these three elements are lacking; the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

The true value of telemarketing data is that this is the one initiative where questions can be asked and the database is updated. Questions such as;

  • Who do you currently buy from?
  • How much do you spend?
  • When do you spend it?
  • Who is the best person to speak with?
  • When should I call back?

Some of these questions do not have to be so brutally frank; asking how much a business spends on your products or services (i.e., with their current supplier) can sound harshly direct. So an alternative question can give a better flavour. If you supply training services, the question could be along the lines of asking how many employees are typically put through a training program each year. Or how many they would consider are in need of training. Or if your business services photocopiers and printers, simply asking how many photocopiers and printers the business has, and perhaps the makes and models to fine tune their prospective future needs. Often the best questions in this area are about the volume of goods/people the company has, so that you can ascertain their likely future spend within a reasonable banding.

Call-back dates are vital in telemarketing. If an opportunity for a sale or appointment is unavailable from the initial call, the database should always be updated with the best date and time to call back. More often than not a prospect will not be in a position to buy when you call, so maintaining that relationship and developing the prospect for the future is vital.

Telemarketing data from Responsiva is always screened against the Telephone Preference Service. This ensures your compliance with data protection legislation. Simply plucking company phone numbers from the internet or business directories is not the right thing to do. For starters it would probably breach their T’s & C’s, secondly it takes longer for a human resource to identify phone numbers (whilst being paid by you to do so) and thirdly most internet directories do not include contact names, company sizes or identify whether or not the phone number is TPS-registered.

 

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