From Zero to 7,000 Prospects in 3.5 Weeks

How one company created an instant database of prime prospects from scratch

Written by Jim McElgunn

Imagine that you’re about to stage a huge one-day sale and want to do some direct marketing to prospects to ensure your stores are packed with eager shoppers on the day. Here’s the tricky bit: you don’t have a single name of a potential customer, and the sale is just 3.5 weeks away. How can you get prospective shoppers fired up about your sale if you don’t even have a customer database?

Fritz Nykamp’s Montreal-based company Taarga came up with a solution when one of its clients came to it with this challenge. Nykamp, president of Taarga—which provides a platform for businesses to manage their emails, texts and voice messages to customers—says the program Taarga developed shows how companies can quickly ramp up a substantial database of prospects. It also shows how businesses can build such a database while complying with the provisions of the federal anti-spam law that has already passed but not yet taken effect.

Read: The New Regs That Could Hamper Your Sales

Nykamp says Taarga’s program combined social media, QR codes and “refer a friend” marketing to generate a database of 7,000 prospects in just 3 ½ weeks. It did so by first capturing the names of people who were already shopping in the stores of this client—a chain of shoe stores—and then having these people refer friends, whose names the retailer would also capture.

Read: 7 Smarter Ways to put QR Codes to Work

Taarga generated QR codes that it featured on in-store posters and at checkouts, as well as on its Facebook page. Shoppers who scanned a code got a special promotional code they could text in. The retailer responded to these texts with a thank you message and a short URL that took consumers to a landing page where they could register for the sale event. In return, consumers would receive detailed information about the specific sale offers at the event and reminders that it was coming up. Consumers were also urged to refer friends who might be interested in the sale.

This quickly built a database of people who had given the shoe retailer explicit permission to market to them. Nykamp says this approach made the retailer fully compliant with the spam law, which will make it tougher for companies to send commercial electronic messages such as emails and texts to people with whom they don’t already have a relationship.

Even more important, the program achieved its twin goals of building a database and drawing shoppers to the sale. The 7,000 people each provided three pieces of valuable data: their full name, mobile number and email address. “We then emailed them a promo for the event, asking them to confirm that they were coming,” says Nykamp. “Within the first 45 minutes, we got 1,700 confirmations. And the company went on to have a record-breaking sale.”

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