List-building horses and content carts

I was recently talking with a client about metrics for their big product launch. We reviewed content and themes and I was surprised to see that there were no metrics in place for what I would call the ‘list-building’ part of the plan. When I asked about specifics to build and increase traction of the company’s list around the launch, I was told that the team was “writing a whitepaper and a new webinar for the launch,” and that once they had them finished, they would “then plan how to share them.”

From 18 years of helping companies market and sell, I see this as the wrong way around.  You don’t want to ‘create-content-then-shoehorn-it-into-a-list-building-activity’ thing, because that’s putting the content before the list-building objectives, or as I like to think of it, it’s putting the content cart before the list-building horse.

This happens a lot. Whether you are planning an e-book, a whitepaper, a customer case study, writing a series of emails, or putting together a webinar – or a mix of these things to support your launch, it’s important that think about the ‘why’. You need an up-front analysis of potential audiences, their traits and buying behaviors, consideration of how your list is segmented, the stage of sale that those target audiences are at – and how you can help them. I’ve seen whole campaigns sent out to entire databases without a thought of the different decision makers, industries, or stages of sale involved.

That’s why we help corporates to think about how they are list-building and we show them, step-by-step, to consider different angles, approaches and best practices. In our Tribalist program we list-build by flipping the process, starting with detailed metrics and objectives based on what the list looks like now. Do you know how many opportunities you get from your list? How many people are being added to your list from different activities?  What makes prospects join — and unsubscribe — from you list? What do you find when you split-test different content formats, headlines or subjects?

Without careful planning, results you get from creating content are inconsistent. It should also be noted that having permission to contact a prospect or customer directly by email is a privilege. It should be honored by doing the most planned, relevant and deliberate campaigns targeting specific personas and helping them — not by creating content for unknown, faceless contacts.

So if your content cart is before your list-building horse, think about how much growth and traction you are seeing from your list, and how changing the order can change your results —and your relationship with your prospects.

If you’d like to see how we show marketers to deliberately and consistently list-build then check out Tribalist – our comprehensive list-building program.

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