People are always looking for information. This is the main reason why Google has been so successful. With that as a fact, how can we as marketers capitalize on this phenomenon? The simple answer is to give information. It is the largest premium item ever conceived. It generally costs less than a pen, notepad, or cup of coffee; especially if it is reused from previous programs, and it is much easier to deliver. Plus, delivery is actually the first step on the road to purchase.

There are several ways to find people who are looking for the information you have to offer.

First, to launch a wide network, there are many specialized Double Opt-In email lists available for rent, and a simple, carefully crafted message (usually a text message, no fancy photos or graphics) sent to a group of potential prospects. Carefully selected Clients, offering a simple report, multimedia file or whitepaper, then combined with a personal follow-up, will produce a significant number of well-qualified leads and, most importantly, the start of a dialogue. And the dialogues frequently end with sales. I cannot stress enough the use of Double Opt-In lists. These are people who have agreed to receive emails because they are looking for information and they know that they will not receive spam from these senders. These people are also much more likely to open your email. Industry trade publications are very good sources for this type of shipment. See additional comments on this below.

You can then create web pages to offer your information in exchange for people’s email addresses. A page that is search engine friendly, targeting people looking for your information will always generate people who will give you their contact information to get your information – the start of a dialogue.

Finally, of course, the people on their own lists. These are people with whom you already have an existing email relationship, so you can legitimately send them offers of RELEVANT additional information and they are very likely to respond positively.

In addition to electronic documents, also remember that if you have valuable information in other multimedia formats, you can also distribute them. It could be a podcast or other audio file, a video, an informational PowerPoint presentation, or other multimedia file. Reuse works great here. It all adds up to the excitement, interest, and value you’re offering, making you more likely to land high-quality leads who want to do business with you.

Step by Step …

  • First of all, you need to choose from several white papers, reports, or other information relevant to your target audience. Make absolutely sure you have all the necessary rights and authorizations to distribute these parts. Like any premium or incentive item, you will give them away.
  • Next, decide how you will reach your target audience. The simplest, most specific, and generally least expensive way is with rented email lists from trade publications in your field. Usually the mail will go directly from the mail service of the trade publication, so you can legitimately have the trade pub in the “From” field. And because the recipient most likely already has the “whitelisted” post in their email system, the likelihood that the email will end up in their inbox, not the spam bucket, will increase. It also gives the message more credibility and increases the chances that the email will be opened and read. And the post will be very selective about what information it will submit under its own name.
  • The “Reply To” in the email is a person or group in your company who will reply to each email individually. Although this could very well be done with an autoresponder, personal communication brings you that much closer to a deep dialogue with the potential customer, and therefore much closer to a sale.
  • The Subject line must be consistent with the information provided and must also be appropriate to the publication whose list you will be sending to.
  • The message itself should be a simple text message with no images or graphics.
  • The response of your staff should have the information documents or multimedia files as attachments, and an offer to get involved immediately to address the prospect issue.
  • Decide how much you would like to spend and how big you want the shipment to be. Negotiate with the list owners to ensure you buy with the best CPM for your budget. You never know, by jumping to the next level of quantity, you may be able to send a lot more leads for very little more, reducing your cost / lead. Since this is a numbers game, more is definitely better.

The critical element is follow-up! The main objective of this process is to open a dialogue between a potential customer and someone from your company that can affect a sale as quickly as possible. If those people don’t follow up right away, momentum is lost and must be regained before the sale can be made.

One of the main benefits of this type of marketing is its speed. From idea to customer interaction, it can often be changed in a week or so and is therefore highly profitable.

Extending the value of this technique

There are a couple of things you can do to easily expand the reach of a program like this.

First, publicize the effort. A well-placed press release with the email address to contact (or website) for the technical documents or media files costs very little and will provide you with many additional leads. Also, when people see the information appear in places other than their inbox, it adds credibility to the story and increases the response rate.

Next, using standard online listing techniques as mentioned above, add access to technical documents and media files through the search engine optimized pages on your website. But don’t put them there as downloads; use the same process as for sending email. If someone is interested and clicks the link for information, get their email address and respond in the same way as someone who responded to the email promotion. Again, minimal expense for the additional scope of the program.

The added benefit, of course, is that you will significantly grow your email list with LEGITIMATE names, the ones you can legally continue to correspond with.

Last but not least: Measure!

Remember: “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t!” (See the related three-part article here.) You need to keep track of how many leads and sales were developed and how much they cost. This works on two levels. First, you need to know if this effort was worth the money spent. Most likely it is. Next, if you use multiple lists from different sources, you’ll want to know which one worked best. If the program works fine on only one post, it may be worth repeating, but remove the low-performing post or select another. But you won’t know unless you measure. You can also see which media is best drawn, static (PDF or other files to print) or dynamic (files to watch or listen to). And you will know how much those names added to your list cost.

And while plain text emails have proven to be very effective for programs like this, you may want to try an HTML version with images and graphics to see which one best suits your situation with your audience.

This is a simple program, easy to implement, has many side benefits, and will produce good results quickly.

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