All business owners need to constantly prospect for new clients, and email is a great way to do that. It is cheap (or free), instant, and can be highly effective. You’ve heard the saying “the money is in the list”, and buying email lists is often touted as being a way to increase your sales quickly and easily. But are list brokers telling you the truth?
Buying email data from list brokers can actually do your business more harm than good, because the data is often emailed to death. The people on those lists have had their details sold tens or hundreds of times, and they have been bombarded with sales emails from hundreds of companies. Many will have changed their email addresses out of desperation in an attempt to stop the constant bombardment of sales advances.
If you have ever bought email lists you will know that a high percentage of the list will bounce because people have changed their email addresses due to being spammed so much. The list broker will tell you that they will replace any “gone away” emails free of charge, but all you are doing for them is cleaning their lists, and there is no guarantee that any replacement will bounce also.
Methods of purchasing email address lists
Before I go into the various drawbacks of each method of acquiring email list data, let’s look at the main methods that most marketers use:
- Buying a list
The list broking company will sell you data based on your demographic and psychographic information. For example, you might buy a list of 10,000 decision makers in the automotive industry, based in the United Kingdom.
- Renting a list
As before, except that you don’t own the list. Often your marketing message will be sent out to the recipients by the list broking company. You will only receive the information back from people who respond to your message, and often there is little proof provided that your message was sent out.
- Generating an opt-in list
By putting a lead capture form on your website you can collect the names and addresses of website visitors, often by offering them an incentive to enter their details – such as a free report, or trial. Once they have opted-in you can continue to send them updates using an email autoresponder service until they unsubscribe.
When you buy or rent email data from a list broker, they will often tell you that the list is 100% opt-in. What they don’t tell you of course is where those people opted in, and they certainly will not have opted-in to receive any communications from your company. If you try to import those so-called “opt in” leads into a commercial autoresponder service such as Mail Chimp, aWeber, or Constant Contact you’re going to run into trouble because you will get a large percentage of complaints and you might get your email service shut down.
Why you shouldn’t buy email contact lists
So I’ve explained the three most common ways of acquiring email data, now I’m going to explain why you should definitely avoid buying or renting email data if you wish to get a good response and stay out of trouble.
Reputable email marketing software providers don’t allow bought/rented email data.
If you are using one of the common email marketing services such as Mail Chimp, etc. to send your emails. – they won’t allow you to import data that has been bought or rented from a third party list broker. Only data that you have collected yourself can be imported into those systems.
Even if you decided to use one of the less reputable services, it still isn’t a good idea to import purchased email data into their systems either. A large number of spam complaints could get the IP address of the sender blacklisted. So I would recommend at all costs you don’t use any email data provided by a list broker!
It is impossible to buy email lists that are good quality!
There is no such thing as good quality email lists for sale, unless of course you’re buying an entire company and their customer base. If you are considering buying email data from a list broker – stop! It is only going to be a waste of money at best, and could seriously damage your company at worse.
Think about it. If you have a high quality email database, you aren’t going to sell that data to anyone else. If lots of people email the same list with poor offers, people are going to get irate, and eventually change their email addresses to avoid getting spammed. The email list will have lost it’s value, so inherently this is the reason why buying and selling email data doesn’t make sense.
People on bought email lists don’t know you.
People buy from people, and that applies to business to business marketing too. If people don’t know you they aren’t going to buy from you. You are just someone else sending them a spam email. You need to build up a relationship first, and that’s why it makes sense to generate your own email lists rather than buying someone else’s out of date and thrashed email lists.
Your IP address could be harmed if you send your offer out to a bought email list, because those people will already be fed up of getting spammed, they are more likely to mark your email as being spam. That could effect the deliverability of your important business emails. You don’t want to risk that happening!
There is a better option than buying email lists!
You can either drive traffic to your website using search engine optimisation or pay per click advertising, and have people opt-in to your list, or what an increasing number of enterprising business owners are doing is a growth hacking technique called cold outreach.
Cold outreach is where you identify prospective customers, and send them a message introducing yourself, and explaining a key benefit of how you are able to help them. Then ask them if they would like more information. If they say yes, you’ve generated a lead and can then add that business or person to your list for further follow up.
If you’re thinking that all sounds very labour intensive, it can be. You could hire a junior member of staff to identify prospects, send them a message, and then follow up with those who express interest. That’s what I started doing myself when I was offering SEO services, and when I was launching business networking groups a few years ago I used the same technique to reach out to local business owners and invite them along to the events.
Putting your B2B lead generation on auto-pilot
However, I’ve since developed some software called the Email Marketing Robot that automates the process of cold outreach specifically for business to business marketing. Simply give the Robot a list of business types that would make good customers, and let it know the geographic areas you are interested in targeting. The Robot then goes to work finding prospective clients, and sends your one-time introductory email to them automatically!
When businesses reply back with interest you can go ahead and add them to your follow up sequence, and that is perfectly legal with all autoresponder systems, because the contact has requested more information. If they aren’t interested that’s fine too, because the Email Marketing Robot only sends a one-time email.