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.