Email is one of the most effective channels for marketing. For every dollar spent on email marketing, an average return on investment of $36 can be expected. And, a majority of consumers say email is their preferred channel for business communication, while over 90 percent of businesses say email marketing is crucial for their success.
These are mouth-watering numbers, and marketers have not failed to notice them. Nearly four-fifths of marketers place it in the top three most effective channels for marketing.
But, building a B2B mailing list organically is hard. This makes it tempting to buy a mailing list or subscribe to a contact list to jumpstart an email marketing campaign. And many fall for the temptation. However, buying a B2B mailing list is not a shortcut to success, but a path to a quagmire.
Why buying a B2B mailing list is always a bad idea
Buying a B2B mailing list or subscribing to a contact list is not even a gamble; very few positive gains can be expected. Using purchased B2B mailing lists as outlets of marketing material is not just a waste of money and other resources, but it could lead to loss or damage of more core business aspects—such as trust and reputation.
If you want to find out more, read on. We have compiled the top eight reasons why buying a B2B mailing list never works out and why it’s best avoided.
1. The quality of the list is not guaranteed
With email marketing, the quality of the mailing list is everything. Well, maybe not everything, but it matters a great deal. Sending hundreds of marketing emails to recipients—or rather, non-recipients—with incorrect addresses or outdated information is not going to yield any positive results, and is, therefore, a waste of time and effort.
But that is what you are essentially doing when you use a bought mailing list to send marketing content. B2B mailing lists purchased from third parties are often fraught with inaccurate information, and as they may not be frequently updated and refreshed, they are likely to be filled with outdated and irrelevant data.
Email addresses change over time, and people switch jobs or abandon old accounts. The list you purchase might not reflect these changes. Moreover, they might also contain data of non-existent people—persons who never existed or those who no longer exist.
Furthermore, when you purchase a mailing list, you have no control over how that list was compiled, whether the data are accurate, or whether the individuals in the list are interested in your products or services. This lack of control over the quality of the list can lead to various issues that could undermine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
2. It can damage brand reputation
Buying a B2B mailing list can indeed be an effective way to grow your audience—a disgruntled audience, that is. When you send emails to individuals who haven’t consented to receive communication from you, they may consider your emails as unsolicited and intrusive, and therefore, spammy.
This can lead to your brand being perceived as untrustworthy and annoying. These negative perceptions can lead to negative sentiments (like frustration) that you would not want your brand to evoke among the audience.
Once you have lost trust and credibility with potential customers, it is difficult to disentangle your brand from the negative association. This forecloses, or at least diminishes, your chance of establishing a connection with them.
3. You could get into legal trouble
Governments around the globe have passed legislation to protect citizens from spam and prevent the misuse of personal data, which includes email addresses. Spams, as we can all attest, can be a nuisance.
Using email addresses obtained from third parties to send advertising and marketing content can increase the likelihood of your email being flagged as spam. This will in turn bring your organization under the radar of authorities.
Sending bulk unsolicited emails that recipients have not voluntarily opted-in is implicitly or explicitly illegal. The GDPR of the EU, for example, states that “no direct marketing electronic mail can be legally sent without the express consent of the receiver.” Similar legislation exists in the US, UK, and Canada. Violations of these rules can incur costly penalties.
4. It could get your email account shut down
Sending bulk emails to a mailing list that you have bought is not necessarily spamming. But if many of your emails are flagged as spam, then your email account could be in hot water. Sending bulk unsolicited emails could lead to the suspension or closure of your email account.
Aweber, an email marketing and automation service provider, for example, expressly forbids using email lists that you bought, subscribed to, leased, or in any way received from third parties.
5. It is ethically dubious
Even if you could get around the legal quandary of buying a B2B mailing list or subscribing to a contact list, there is the ethical question you have to answer. One of the fundamental principles in marketing is consumer data protection.
When you buy a mailing list, the individuals on that list may not have consented to their personal information being shared with third parties. Even if they have, say, opted-in and allowed their data to be shared with a third party, they may nevertheless want their privacy respected.
It is also important to respect consumers’ preferences and not be intrusive. When you buy a mailing list, the individuals on that list have not given you explicit permission to contact them. This lack of consent disregards their preferences and can be perceived as intrusive and disrespectful.
6. Personalized and targeted email campaigns are difficult with bought lists
For an effective email campaign, proper segmentation of recipients by industry, company size, role, location, etc. is crucial. With bought mailing lists, achieving meaningful targeting and personalization is challenging; the lists typically lack the granularity of information needed for tailored communication.
Personalization is vital in email marketing. According to a survey by Litmus, 76 percent of responders want more personalized interaction to develop a deeper connection with brands. Personalization goes beyond addressing recipients by their first names. It requires tailoring content to their interests and specific needs. Achieving this level of personalization is difficult with a purchased list.
7. Campaigns with purchased lists have low engagement and conversion rates
With little insight into the recipients, crafting personalized content is difficult—nay, impossible. With personalization out of the equation, high engagement can all but be dismissed. Moreover, recipients who haven’t opted in are less likely to engage with your content.
Furthermore, with bought B2B mailing lists, you are dealing with a diverse and disparate group of individuals who might not share common interests or needs. This entails sending generic, one-size-fits-all content that does not resonate with any particular group of people, thus leading to a tepid response.
And not just that, some of the content you send may even be inappropriate for certain recipients besides being irrelevant, and could lead to complaints.
8. It is a waste of resources
Buying a B2B mailing list can cost dearly in many ways, financially, too. Paying for irrelevant contacts is wasteful especially as the same money can be used for building qualified, engaged leads. And the list you bought must be in possession of some other marketers too, who likewise are bombarding the individuals in the list with advertising content. This will lead to your content being buried and ignored.
To summarize, buying a B2B mailing list can lead you to legal troubles, is often unethical, and is always ineffective for marketing campaigns.
The resources—money, time, and effort—spent on mailing lists that are purchased are better allocated to genuine, organic list-building strategies that attract individuals who are genuinely interested in your offerings.
Strategies for building custom B2B mailing lists
Considering all these downsides and much else, the option of buying B2B mailing lists is out of the window. The option left to us is building custom B2B mailing lists—with our effort or with the help of other experts by outsourcing B2B list-building services to third parties who possess the necessary expertise and resources.
Custom-built B2B mailing lists are better not just because bought pre-built lists are bad, they are good in themselves for several reasons.
- They have higher quality leads: When people opt into your email list, it indicates that they are interested in your content and the products and services you offer. This will mean that your emails are more likely to be opened and read, and therefore a higher likelihood of conversion.
- They give a higher return on investment: Because you have deeper insights into the individuals in the mailing list, you can better target your emails to the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Better targeting means higher effectiveness in generating leads and ultimately increased sales.
- They do not harm brand reputation: When you send emails to people who have consented to receive them, the emails are less likely to be marked as spam. This will enable you to maintain a good sender reputation, which is vital in email marketing campaigns.
- You have more control over the lists: With custom-built B2B mailing lists, you have more control over who is on the list and how the list is managed. This will allow you to properly maintain the list, with periodic updating of the list, and help you ensure that your emails are sent only to people who are interested in what you have to offer.
With these in mind, let us consider some strategies for building a custom B2B mailing list.
Creating lead magnets
A lead magnet is a great way to capture potential clients and their contact information. A lead magnet is any resource, free but not necessarily, that you exchange for contact information, such as an email address. It can be an ebook, a case study, free trials, or discounts.
Choosing and deploying the right lead magnets by creating compelling content and designing proper landing pages will enable you to capture potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer.
Consider what your target audience would find most valuable and create lead magnets that are relevant to your target audience and offer them something that they cannot get anywhere else.
Running giveaway contests
Running a giveaway contest is a simple but effective way to attract leads and build your email list. According to a study, 34% of fans of a brand are acquired by running online contests and promotions; and a third of participants are open to receiving information from brands and partners.
In addition to email addresses, you can also collect other information during the entry process of the contest, such as demographic data or preferences. This data can be used to segment your list and personalize future marketing efforts.
But do not ask for too much information. That may put off participants who may otherwise be interested.
Outsourcing B2B list building to third parties
Building custom B2B mailing lists is not a quick and easy task. It requires doing several things several times. And so though the fruits of the labor are rewarding, the task can be arduous.
Companies that offer specialized and dedicated services can come to the rescue. Outsourcing B2B list-building services to professionals who specialize in list-building and lead generation brings their expertise to your table. They understand the best practices, effective strategies, and tools needed to build high-quality, segmented mailing lists.
Quality B2B mailing lists. We build that – for you!
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And since they have a dedicated team with the requisite expertise, they can build a mailing list in a much shorter period of time. They also possess specialized skills and resources, ensuring that you always have accurate and up-to-date data.
Accurate and well-segmented B2B mailing lists are pivotal in creating effective email marketing campaigns. The process, though, of building and maintaining a quality mailing list is arduous. But buying a B2B mailing list is never the answer. It seldom works. And when it does work, it is against you.
So, there are two options. You either build your mailing list—which is laborious and time-consuming, or you could get the help of experts in experienced list-building companies by outsourcing the B2B list-building services. Doing so will allow you to focus on the core marketing aspects and enable you to devise and deploy better strategies. And thus higher return on investment.