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Posts Tagged ‘Accurate Append’

Guest post from Roger Buehler

The two things that I absolutely HATE to do more than anything else is landscaping and sales, and it’s all due to what was the worst job I ever had:  selling lawn aeration.

For those of you not up on their horticulture, lawn aeration involves taking a machine with a big steel drum on the front of it and rolling it over your lawn.  The drum is covered in short hollow tubes, which stick out like spines.  As the drum rolls over your lawn, the tubes press into the soil and pull out hundreds of little “plugs”, or as I call them, “goose poop” (since that’s what they look like), and leave your lawn filled with hundreds of little holes. By punching the holes in the lawn, oxygen is supposed to make it to the plant’s root system, and your lawn is supposed to get greener.

At one time or another, you’ve probably had someone like me knock on your door.  If you answered, I’d give you a spiel about how I and my co-workers would be in your neighborhood in a few day’s time, aerating your neighbor’s lawn, and since we were already here, we’d be willing to swing by and aerate your lawn at the fantastically low price of…(Insert made-up price here).

In truth, I and 5 other guys would squeeze into a Toyota extended-cab pickup belonging to the owner of the company, and he would drop us off at a random Bay Area neighborhood.  We would disperse, and spend the rest of the day going door to door haranguing all those unlucky enough to answer their doors with our sales pitch.  We would get any number of responses (I was threatened with an “ass-whoopin'” on more than one occasion), but a surprisingly large number of times (surprising to me anyway) we would get a “yes.”

At the end of the week, the owner paid us a percentage on the sales we made, and then he went to the customers’ houses with the aerator and punched holes in their lawns.  What he never shared with the customers was his “trade secret”; he secretly applied an industrial strength lawn fertilizer that would, as he called it, “make asphalt grow,” to pretty much guarantee a greener lawn in about a week.  Of course, without continually being “juiced,” the lush green lawns turned brown a few weeks later, and then he’d be back with a new crew, trying to sell the same customers on getting their lawns aerated yet again!

I kicked ass at that job (yes, it surprised even me), but I hated the job so much that it turned me off sales and yard work to this day.

The biggest problem was that we had no information regarding our potential customers.  We just knocked on door after door.  I would have to knock on anywhere between 2 and 25 doors before I even got to talk to someone.  

The job would have been so much easier with some key customer information: What hours is the homeowner at home? Do we have their work number and home number? How much money do they make? Do they take care of the lawn themselves or do they hire a gardener? How much money do they spend on lawn care annually?

Any of this information would have allowed us to just focus on the customers who were potentially interested in our product, and skip the houses with no one home, and who had their own gardener doing this work for them already.

So clearly, our marketing and sales process was inefficient, but I wonder, how many companies’ sales processes and marketing campaigns are just as inefficient, and consist of just emailing as many potential customers as possible, making sales where they can, while pissing off a whole lot more?

If you want to be successful in sales without alienating potential customers, you need accurate, timely, customer data. Luckily, lawn aerators of today across the country can rejoice in the fact that they have access to infinitely better data than I ever did.

Accurate Append provides companies with complete data append, phone append, mobile phone append, email append data and cell phone append.  They can also integrate data processing capabilities into your business processes, so you know that your data is always current.  Their team has more than 45 years’ data processing experience, so they’re uniquely qualified to provide their clients with the timely, accurate and complete contact data they need to profitably grow their customer base.

So, don’t just electronically knock on every door out there, call a data append company like Accurate Append, and see how they can help your business grow (even without special fertilizers).

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For much of my four years at NationBuilder, I worked on email deliverability – either directly monitoring the results of our customer email blasts, or working with the delivery director on thorny deliverability issues and strategies and documentation to help our customers get more out of our email product.

I always look at bulk email delivery as an art as well as a technical challenge. While nonprofits and political campaigns want to get their message to as many people as swiftly as possible, internet service providers (ISPs) are devoted to keeping their customers’ inboxes as clean and relevant as possible. This means they have teams of engineers working to keep unwanted bulk mail out. In order to successfully navigate the inboxes of supporters and voters, you need to send relevant, wanted messages that will be regularly opened. And you’ve also got to avoid technical problems that signal to ISPs that your emails might be spam. When emailing, it’s not what’s legal (such as sending emails to a voter file list), it’s what the ISPs think of your e-blasts that ultimately matters.

One of the biggest things you can do to improve e-blast results is regularly eliminate bad and bouncing addresses from your sends. Thankfully, NationBuilder does much of this for you in an automated fashion. And while I was with the company, I developed a relationship with Accurate Append, a firm that specializes in verifying emails before you send to them. You can do this in two ways – in real time as emails are submitted on web forms – or in bulk with any list you haven’t been sending to regularly. It’s estimated that you can lose as much as 2% of your list each month due to changes in folks’ email addresses. That means if you’re running for office and using a list of personal contacts whom you don’t routinely email, 20-50% of your list may be bad. You can “clean” your list simply by running it through an inexpensive process with Accurate Append, and make sure you stay on the ISPs good side by sending to highly valid addresses where your messages will be opened, read and responded to.

If you’d like to read more email deliverability tips, NationBuilder has a good guide to email best practices. For campaigns and other outreach efforts, Accurate Append also provides email append and phone append products. I recently wrote up a guide to using appends to generate laser-targeted Facebook advertising audiences.

If you’d like to learn more about how Accurate Append can help with your data challenges, just give them a call or fill out a web form.

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