Category Archives: Marketing

market research is hard

I took up a new project at work recently which is semi-related to software.  We are building a new system, and now we expanding our marketing efforts.  My new job for the last couple of weeks was to perform a market study of a niche market in Pennsylvania (Muncipal authorities — but not even, it is a subset of the authorities I’m researching) and determine how we are going to attack it!

Typically being a software developer (I am doing marketing because I also have an MBA), I assumed I would be able to find a nice and tidy set of websites that I could quickly consolidate and tweak in order to serve my purpose of data collection.  However, after the first four hours of looking at authority websites that look like they were created in 1995 (one even has blinking text!), I realized that this was not as easy a solution as I thought.

I took a step back and spent a day looking for associations and group sites.  This was a pretty good path, I found one site that listed a couple of hundred PA authorities websites.  I went with it and, not thinking I guess, started down the list going to each one and writing down email addresses.  By the end of the day, I had all of 31.

I quickly (compared to the rest of the day) put together an email questionaire template and fed the names and emails into it via mail merge (in MS Word).  Also, quickly, I received 4 or 5 replies.  It only took about an hour for them to come in!  And they were useful!  I learned my first lesson.

Just about all replies from email marketing come within 24 hours

No science or official theory behind that, but that was it.  I received those responses and no more.  And more, it seems to fit what I have always heard about replies: about 3-5% response from marketing sent out.

I wised up and remembered that technology could save me.  If I thought of a program that would be slightly useful, i knew someone else would have already written it.  And they did.  I downloaded (bought) a program called “email grabber.”  I took the websites I found, fed them into email grabber, and set it free.  It downloaded 3500 emails for me in about 20 minutes.

After sorting through those and finding the ones that actually went to people, I fed them back through my mail merge template, and guess what…  I got back 95% of my replies by the next afternoon, again at around a 3-5% rate.  This isn’t easy!  Now I’m on to contacting more people by phone.