Building house lists online with post-click marketing

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Building an internal list of prospects can be one of the most valuable things a marketing department can do. It can also be one of the most expensive. And frustrating. If it was cheap and easy, there would be no list industry - we'd all just make our own. But it's not, and we don't.

In order for a sizable house list to be a tenable goal, it must be cost effective and of high quality. Traditionally those two characteristics have been at odds. You could generate a big (cheap) list or a higher quality, small (expensive) list.

But "traditionally" doesn't apply in 2007. When you focus on what happens after your prospect clicks on your online ad or e-mail, you can reduce your cost per acquisition and raise your overall lead quality. Here's how.

First, think of your entire end-to-end process as a giant funnel. You want to pour in a huge number of clicks (respondents), but get out a much smaller number of qualified prospects.

"Much smaller" here is a good thing, so don't think that means three out of a hundred. Think more like 7 percent to 15 percent conversion and you're in the right ballpark (if you play your post-click cards well).

• Good post-click marketing matches the post-click message to the one that earned the click. You must be on message, not merely on topic. Your first page must clearly capitalize on the promise you made to earn the click that brought the respondent in.

• Then, post-click marketing presents short, single-minded pages that include simple decisions for respondents to make. Based on their behaviors at those decision/segmentation forks, you can then make your pitch more and more specific to narrow your funnel.

• By the time you ask your respondent to convert to a prospect and give you their data, she trusts you and actually wants to give it to you. That trust and desire translates to higher conversions and much higher quality data: real e-mail and snail mail addresses.

This is the year of what happens after the click. Focus on that, and it will also be the year you build the house list you've always dreamed of.

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