Checklist for success


The 2021 Direct Marketing Association report on email marketing effectiveness estimated a Return on Investment (ROI) of almost £40 for each £1 invested, and found that this channel is the most used by brands engaging with customers.

However, to get anywhere near that ROI figure, every part of campaign needs to be spot on – from messaging to timing, calls to action to landing page/s, frequency of follow ups, and who you contact and why.

So, if you can you answer yes to each of the following, then you have maximised your chances of a successful marketing campaign. If there are any ‘no’s’, you need to remedy those or they could damage your campaign:

Before you start

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If not, sign up to one and send your email via the platform as it will enable you to track the results and see who opens the email; how many times it is opened (they may forward it on to colleagues); how long they spend reading it; which recipients click on the links; who didn’t open it; who unsubscribed, repeat the mailing, easily personalise the email with the recipient’s name, and more.
 BUT, for telephone and direct mail, you don’t need an opt-in first, though you do need to offer the ability to opt-out from future communications.
For example, just one conversion from a campaign to 500 people may pay for the whole campaign and provide opportunities for up-selling and repeats. So that’s a success. Hoping that dozens of enquiries will flood in immediately is unrealistic and disheartening and can lead to good ideas being abandoned. ROIs are important, but so is raising awareness of your products and services, making new, sometimes slow-burn contacts, and learning from your mistakes and improvements.

Details about this can be found at, or you may want to discuss with your data supplier. Basically, however, B2B tends to use ‘legitimate interest’ as the legal reason you are contacting someone, so you must ensure that the product or service is relevant to the job title of the recipient, it’s clear who you and your organisation are, and you provide an unsubscribe facility.

Writing your emails

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Don’t waffle, don’t apologise for contacting them or enquire after their health (if you don’t know them) or state facts they already know as they are unlikely to read any further. A common mistake is to give far too much detail at this first point of contact.
It is helpful to draw up several subject headings to test on repeat mailings or different audiences to see whether that makes any difference to the opening rates. Throw in a questions or make a bold statement that piques the recipient’s curiosity enough to open the email.
For example, ‘Click here for a quote’; ‘Download our brochure’; ‘Sign up today for 20% off your first order’, etc.? Too many differing messages and more than one call to action or no call to action, confuses the reader and wastes an opportunity to connect. Choose one CTA and make it easy for people to contact you.
If you haven’t provided any incentive for the recipient to respond quickly, they may put you on the back burner for the time being, even if they’re interested. Incentives could include time-limited money-off offers, freebies, limited stock, prize draw, free sample, etc.
This applies to embedded enquiry forms, CTAs, links to your website, PDFs, etc.
Many organisations have software that automatically unsubscribes unrecognised emails/ organisations, but with a two-stage unsubscribe, if the second stage hasn’t been completed, the unsubscribe will have been done by a robot and not by the recipient and can, therefore, be ignored..

Is your website up to scratch?

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Even if you have amazing marketing collateral with great messaging and design that piques the recipient’s interest, you could easily lose them if the web page your email links to doesn’t match up and reflect the messaging in your email, looks amateurish, is hard to navigate or has no forward journey. And you will need a further CTA and prominent contact details on the page (not in the footer).

Planning your campaign

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The average email open rate is between 15–25% on the first send, but if you repeat the campaign several times (every 7–10 days) your cumulative opening rate could rise to around 50%. Set your email marketing platform to do repeat mailings automatically. Consider changing the subject headings to test open rate.
Poor quality, out-of-date data will cause even a well-planned project to fail. Studies show that up to 70% of key contacts data decays over the course of a year.
It might be tempting to buy as little as possible to save money or for a small campaign, but if you only buy 500 contacts, for an example, and based on the open and click-through rates outlined above, only 75–125 people will open your email the first time round, with 1.8–3.2 people clicking through, which doesn’t give you much leeway for a sale. Unless, of course, you target exactly the right people in a very niche market, with the right product and messaging, at the right time, and keep repeating to improve the open rate. However, in general, the more you buy, the higher the discount and the higher the chance of achieving your goals. Five thousand to 10,000 or more business contacts per campaign is the norm. Email marketing is definitely a numbers game.
For example, HR and IT job roles cover a multitude of responsibilities with specialists in each. Sending your communications to just the HR or IT director risks your messages being lost somewhere along the way. A discussion with a good data provider will help identify the job roles that meet your specific requirements.
Fixating on FTSE 100 companies for example to the exclusion of smaller, local, or relatively unknown organisations can be a big mistake. Enterprises that are not household names and have less red tape to go through, are often more approachable and receptive. A good data provider will tease out the right sort of business list for you if correctly briefed.
You won’t want to be paying for data you already have. The data supplier should be willing to do this free of charge, under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Make sure you test the data sample and that it’s of top quality with no bounce backs. A typical sample would be around 30 business contacts.
It’s very important for the success of your campaign that the data has been freshly researched and validated to avoid hard bounces. Once you take delivery of the data, don’t leave it longer than a couple of weeks before you use it.

During the campaign

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Don’t divulge you’ve been tracking them, but try and engage them further through the offer of a demo, a testimonial, a free sample, etc.
You’re very lucky indeed if you get an order after one direct contact. After the initial push to make potential buyers aware of your products or services, you need five other “low-push” reasons to make contact. These could include any of the above, plus sending a link to something interesting and relevant or congratulating them on a business success or some other achievement. All this requires an efficient system for tracking communications and reminders, and an ongoing feed of business news stories to tap.
Include them in the repeat mailings, but ensure you remove all unsubscribers at every stage.
If you have a high enough number of contacts to work with, you could split them into two groups and try a different heading for each, then swap over when you next resend. Tweak the headings in light of the results. Only make one change at a time so you know what has actually worked and what hasn’t.
Record opening rates for each send; click-through rates; response rates; subject headings; number of enquiries, new clients or orders received, unsubscribers, etc. You need these in order to evaluate what worked and what didn’t and use it to compare and contrast with later campaigns.

After the campaign

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Using the results you’ve been recording, evaluate how the campaign went. Did it achieve the success you hoped for? Did you make a good ROI? Have you made a number of new clients? What went well, what didn’t? What would you do differently next time? Keep this information handy for your next campaign.

Last word

Quote from the film The Founder about Ray Croc who built the worldwide Macdonald's restaurant business:

Ray Kroc: "Nothing in this world can take the place of good old persistence. Talent won't. Nothing's more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius won't. Unrecognized genius is practically a cliche. Education won't. Why the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all powerful."

Remember, the individuals you target may not be ready for your products or services just yet, but they might be in six months’ time and your continued persistence will put your organisation at front of mind when they are ready.


What our clients are saying

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Working Transitions| Career Partners International
We began using Alert BI's division as a source of key contacts data during 2021. From the start, communications have been quick, professional, and easy. Data quality is high and great value for money. Their information covers the USA market brilliantly (we are based in California) and also Europe where we have expansion plans. Highly recommended.
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SR Apprenticeships have had a great experience working with Unlike most other providers, all their contacts data is freshly researched and validated just before it’s sent to clients, so it’s not been sitting on the shelf going stale. Their list of ‘heads of’ roles is extremely comprehensive so we were able to target just the right people, and supplementary advice on marketing campaigns and GDPR is readily available.
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We needed to reach out to senior HR personnel as well as people in job roles to do with learning, emotional health and wellbeing. seemed to be the only company that could provide contacts data that specific, and in the quantity we required.
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Rhys Davies
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“We discovered via a Google internet search when looking for a HR contacts database. As well as general HR contacts they cover more specialist roles such the HSQE staff we had an interest in. The service and communications were quick and professional and the sample data was good - we purchased a dataset and have been busy communicating with that audience. The information is good. We also valued the advice the team provided about producing email content to maximise its impact, and the guidance about how best to set up and execute campaigns over the critical first three months of campaigning. Highly recommended..”

Clients we have worked with

We work with organisations and budgets of all sizes across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors globally. Our clients range from start ups and sole traders through to SMEs and global organisations such as: Google, Manpower, Mars, Trinity Mirror, Barclays, The Bank of England, IBIS and Hays.