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How to create a better contact list

While we are in an era that's largely defined by social media, ecommerce and smartphones, businesses continue to find that the best way to reach customers is through mail. Whether it's direct mail or electronic text, companies are seeing conversion success simply by sending their customers a friendly message. 

That being said, success is not guaranteed. Businesses must first build high quality contact lists that contain valuable information about their consumers - a task that requires them to meld traditional tactics and cutting-edge practices. 

Use what you already have
The way to build contact lists has changed. Rolodexes are no longer the focal point of a marketing professional's desk, and business cards aren't carefully withdrawn and sorted before launching a mailing campaign, according to Martha Retallick in an article for Freelance Switch. However, the information marketers have gathered through their face-to-face networking is still a gold mine, especially when combined with data that's become available through the internet and social networks. 

So how do businesses translate those print materials into their digital databases? The answer is simple - manual entry. Some marketing teams may have the luxury of outsourced employees who will complete the task of typing names, addresses and email accounts into a digital document, but budgets are tight and professionals may be tasked with completing these duties themselves, Retallick adds.

Make sure it's correct
Even the most diligent typists make wayward keystrokes, and these mishaps can slip into final contact lists if they aren't using an address management system to verify that the data quality is correct. Sending direct mail or electronic offers to invalid addresses will cost the firm money and dampen the success of an otherwise effective marketing initiative. 

This same idea is the reason why many companies use double opt-ins for online registration. Email verification programs will weed out incorrect entries to ensure valuable information is being sent to to the correct locations. 

If you love them, let them go
It might seem counterintuitive to provide customers on a contact list with easy methods by which to remove their names, but this is truly the best way to go. Consumers who do not want to receive emails or letters from a businesses will likely not be making purchases either, according to Early To Rise. Moreover, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 made it illegal for businesses to send emails to recipients who are not interested. 

Put it to the test
It's hard to make improvements if companies don't know where they stand. Testing contact lists and looking at metrics can indicate whether the hard work and resources invested in marketing efforts are paying off, or if teams need to regroup and devise new tactics for the next campaign.