Email Lists: Should You Buy or Build

You need email lists and you are not alone. Every day marketers struggle to figure out how to reach larger audiences for their content marketing campaigns. Without a robust database, your content marketing plans can take much longer to gather lead generating momentum. Since we all want more sales, that means generating more leads, let’s look at how successful agencies create larger databases.

There are a few ways marketers build databases:

  • Buying lists: You can buy names and email addresses based on certain demographic information.
  • Renting lists: You can identify a segment of prospects to email, but you don’t own the list. Without ownership, you’re unable to email them beyond the agreed upon rental period.
  • Opt-in List: You’re given an email address by the prospect themselves, giving you permission to continue to send emails. These people may pick and choose certain content they want to see.

There can be drawbacks to purchasing prospect lists if you do not research carefully. Find out who the company is that you are buying from and how they go about sourcing their information. Understand that since nobody can sell you an “opt-in list,” the prospects you are buying are cold. Those cold contacts can be gold for your sales team. Just make sure there are quality, up to date decision makers within those brands you are hunting.

Opting in is important, and we want people to do it as much as possible. As long as you abide by all Can-Spam laws, there’s no reason that you should not be able to reach out to contacts on a purchased list who have not opted in yet. The issue we see a typical agency run into when trying to build a list from only opt-ins is that time is their enemy. It takes a long time to build these from scratch. How much time? Let’s do the math.

Most small to medium agencies we speak with average 50 or less unique visitors a day. Most of them are probably only converting 1-2% of those contacts into opt-ins regularly. If we were able to increase that to 4% conversion, we would still only have 500 Opt-ins at the end of year 1.

For an effective content marketing campaign, we’re looking for a contact goal of 3,000-5,000. If you are generating 500 opt-ins a year, you would be looking at taking 6 years to generate just the minimum amount of contacts! Not a lot of New Business Directors have 6 years to wait for quality prospect lists to develop. Our goal is to always kick-start that process of building opt-ins, by buying targeted lists.

Quality content is huge in driving up your traffic and conversion rates. But while your team is building up that content, you need to be supplementing contacts from somewhere. At AgencySquared, we use a sophisticated platform called Winmo. Winmo helps salespeople generate targeted prospect lists instantly. It uses search filters for a wide range of areas like media spend and geography. This enables sales organizations to prospect on a much larger scale. They can build to that target number of 3-5,000 targeted prospects much faster.

Buying lists can be an indispensable part of your marketing strategy. Especially if you’re building to that large-scale prospecting list. Agencies should of course do their own math to figure out what will work best for them, but we recommend looking at the numbers above. We think that the winning equation is: Buying + Building lists = more leads, faster.

Matt Chollet

As EVP of Agency Development, Matt works alongside agencies on a daily basis, helping them implement new business processes that help generate qualified conversations with their most sought after prospects.