Audience Development

I’ve had more interaction in the realm of Audience Development at work recently and that was the main catalyst for this post though an article yesterday on Deliverability.com today from Andrew Kordek pushed me to action. His post speaks of getting one’s house in order before going down this road and is totally spot on. Marketers need to understand that audience development can be extremely powerful and can be a great asset to growing reach. It is important to understand the options a marketer has in this arena.

If there ever were to be a created a listing of bad words in email marketing that list would include “Blast”…which is everyone’s favorite but would also include “List Acquisition”. OK…I know that is two words but when these two words are uttered there are those out there who will turn there nose or look at you as though you have 14 heads. Frankly list acquisition is used as a broad term and it puts a bad light on some audience development activities that can be very beneficial to marketers. That is why I prefer the term “Audience Development” when I refer to List work. It helps remove the negative stigma about the marketing channel. Before we get too far down this road…let’s define Audience Development.

In the world of List, there are multiple types of programs a marketer can run. Here are a few of the types that are out there:

  • List Rental – this is when a marketer pays for the ability to deploy an email campaign (or postal campaign…though in email we think print is dead).  They do not buy the records but have the ability to send a single deployment to the audience.
  • List Acquisition – this is when a marketer buys a list or database and then simply adds the audience to their file.
  • Co-Registration – this is when a marketer is included on a third-party registration form by which a user can opt-in to a marketers program when performing another registration activity.

There are of course many other types and flavors but these are the primary methods that marketers can employ to grow their database through List efforts. Of the methods listed above the only real no-no is List Acquisition. How a marketer can think that they can buy a third-party list and that they simply will enjoy the emails they get is beyond me. Opt-out rates will sky rocket, abuse complaints will peak, and it has the ability to destroy an email marketing program. There is nothing good about buying a list to grow your database.

More often then it should, List Rental is clubbed in with List Acquisition. They are totally separate. There are plenty of programs that can be run effectively when renting a list to entice and invite users who may not be familiar with your brand, offering, or promotion that may be of benefit for them. Creative is still going to be important for these campaigns. The members of this audience are not your customers yet and need to be treated differently than you would customers who are already engaged. To treat these prospects as customers would be a huge misstep and severely drive down the effectiveness of the campaign.

Audience development is a critical piece to an effective marketing plan…even more so in the digital marketplace. Understanding which strategy works best requires analysis and testing to determine the most effective way to reach new prospects. List can work…it’s not all bad.


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