List Buyer Beware

As marketers, we want to do our best to reach new leads, educate and nurture them to become potential customers.  We want to build a profile of the customer, so we can identify leads who we believe is qualified and pass them to our sales team.  The challenge is where to start with leads.  If you’re like me, you get at least five email per week from some service that is offering to “sell” you a list of leads that fit your target.  This rings two alarms in my head…

  • With today’s regulations around privacy, there is a risk of personal data being captured as “business contact” data (Maybe the person gave personal data to a particular company for business, but they didn’t give it to me, so the data has a bit of risk associated with it.)
  • The person didn’t add themselves to a list so it could be “sold” to people like me, so there is likely going to be a huge amount of unsubscribes, un-opens, or just plain angry recipients.

Buying a lead list sounds like a great way to load up a database, and it is, but we need to be very cautious about where we get the list, use it in a timely manner, and only use it once. (maybe twice 😨)  We need to think of the list as fresh fish 🐟 from the market.  We need to get it from a fish monger that we can trust. Who can we trust as a list supplier?  A reputable organization that has explicit permissions to share and would not likely be forgotten by the list member.  This may be a subscriber list to a publication, attendees to a trade show, or some similar list source that has been used recently.  We need to use it soon, because there is a timeliness to freshness. If the list is from an event, you want to use it within 3-4 months of the event.  We don’t want to keep leftovers around, so they need to be consumed very soon.  As far as a list is concerned, you only want to resend to soft-bounces, out-of-office replies, or unopened reminders … but I would only recommend that you use it once.  Also, be transparent about how you got their information (i.e. We hope you enjoyed the show…, last issue…, etc.) and remind them that they can unsubscribe.

When buying a list, remember that you get what you pay for.  A list of three-thousand names for $1,500 may only give you a handful of good leads.  In reality these may be some very expensive leads that may still never become a customer.  So, what do you do when you don’t have a good source for a list or it is too expensive.   You may be a lot better off building your own list.  This sounds hard and slow, but in the end you will get much better leads with a higher potential of becoming a customer.  Also, it’s not that hard!

The key is to think about it as part of your campaign.  Just keep in mind that building a lead database is one of your campaign objectives.  You will want to use the content and message of your campaign to also draw in leads that are attracted to your content.  This means that leads that opt-in through your campaign have already self-identified as having an interest in the topic of your campaign.  This means that it won’t take as long to develop them in to qualified leads.  Take a look at this simple flow and we will walk through it below… 

Opt-in as Part of Campaign

Content seems to always be the missing part of many campaigns, but you need something.  Here is one tip to that you can always use … Simplify! I’m sure that you have content, but it may seem like it’s too much or too complicated or in the wrong format or all of the above. 😲 Think about you customers and how to start the conversation.  Set-up the problem that you will solve, or share a teaser part of the content to make them want more.  Downloads or restricted content is a fair trade for their contact information, but give them something for free that raises their confidence that you have something of equal or greater value to share.  Create your ad as a small piece of content that will spark an interest or make someone want to share it.  (Especially for social ads.)  It doesn’t need to be funny.  Serious content is worthy of sharing, too.  If you took the money that you would have spent on the list ($1,500) and used it in a targeted online ad spend, you will be surprised how much you will get for your money.  And they will be better quality leads.

Landing pages are often poorly executed, if at all.  I have seen many ads that lead you to the company home page.  OK, now what!?  Don’t just drop someone on the home page if your homepage doesn’t have a call to action (CTA).  It is like playing hide and seek with your lead.  You sparked their interest with an ad and dropped them on your home page … Why? To just dare them to find the content you want them to see?  Sending them to a landing page is another opportunity to present your value proposition and a CTA is the best way to get them to provide their contact information. “Fill out this form and download the infographic. …to download the worksheet.  …we will send you a free hat.”  ☝️ Tips:  1.) Put the form right on the page, so they don’t have to open another page for the form.  2.) Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need to get started. (i.e. Name and email address)  You can add to their profile over time, because the more information you require upfront, them more people will abandon your site.  There is an invisible line that people draw and won’t cross when it comes to providing their information.  It is different for everyone, but the more data you require, them closer you get to that line.

In summary, you may get a lot further faster by building your own list than buying a list.  Especially when the list is from an unknown source. 
🤔 Think about it … how did you get their email offer?  They pulled you from their database of “highly qualified” leads!  Yuck. 😝

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