No, and never will. No relevancy, and, regardless of what those companies say, I see no legitimate opt-in that would allow me to send email; I wouldn't tie my brand to something like that. This business model is essentially illegal in EU, where privacy laws make practices like screen-scraping and data-harvesting verboten. That aside, I'd be interested to hear anyone's experience with this method. Hope that doesn't come off as hostile, just a big advocate of organic lists, though I realize earned opt-ins based on the merit of content is a tougher slog, especially in the face of organizations that might mistake volume as more meaningful than quality.
Here is the ClickZ article in case you want to peruse: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2112553/email-appending-abusive-practice
David brings up a good point around deliverability that often is absent from discussions about list growth. As the person representing this channel, make sure your company understands the reputation-building that goes into the ability to send email. Know your sender score like you know your own credit score (ours is 98 right now and I check it weekly; I'm assuming you have your own IP, if not, I'd recommend it). You are the voice of quality for your list (I know, it is a big job). They are easy conversations sometimes, but its worthwhile and here are some tips to build your case for quality over quantity:
Change your unsubscribe page to solicit feedback and put the voice of customer in your process. Here's ours:
If you keep track of where your contacts come from (the original source), you can measure the overall unsubscribe rate of that group (along with opens, CTR, etc.) and have real feedback about why they leave your list. Our main reasons: subscribers didn't feel the content was relevant, they felt they had never subscribed.
If you are going to buy lists, try and find industry publications. Here are some questions to ask:
Exclusivity - how often are they mailing out these lists? How do they collect and confirm opt-in?
Payment - because deliverability is low on rented lists, ask to pay only for guaranteed delivery, don't pay for the overall list size
CPA - I doubt you'll get it, but if the vendor has confidence in their lists, ask for cost per acquisition not CPM. Pay for performance not volume.
Here are some goals for organic list quality (from econsultancy):
- Increasing the size of your list. With addresses continuously added and removed over a particular time period you need to know healthy growth is occurring.
- Increasing coverage of email addresses in your customer base – you may have 15% of your customers on the marketing database opted in to a newsletter, but you want to
- increase this to 35% over the next year.
- Improving the quality of your email addresses – i.e. the proportion of valid or active email addresses on your list.
- Deliverability (% bounces and messages that are delivered)
- Improving permission quality – how many on the list have opted-in and to which options.
- Targeting quality – increase the proportion of subscribers pre-qualified for your products through measuring profile depth or audience composition on a common custom
Hope that helps
I've read this post 3 times in the last week. Each pass thru I start thinking deeper about what it's significance. Primarily, what does it mean in various business models. Or how the risky is the practice of emailing purchased lists in a global SW B2C environment VS a global HW B2B environment.
I wonder if David or Mark would be more or less adament about dissuading emailing purchased lists depending on the business model of the practioner. My guess is they'd say "It all depends". But what does it depend on? I have some undeveloped thoughts including: Time in buyer lifecycle, targetted personas, simplicity of product or service.
For the fence riders, this second level of inquiry may lead to an established postion/policy within the company.
I look at it quite simply: there is a big difference between earning an audience's attention and interrupting them with a message they didn't ask for. As to the legality, unsolicited interruption is very gray, especially for B2B in the U.S. so let's leave that out for now.
And I know the reason why people find list purchase/rental appealing; its the same reason bulk emailers still exist. Because even though its massively inefficient, it kind of works if you do it at volume, and its a 'quick win' that makes it look like you're doing something, and doing it now. Buying a 50k list with a .5% response rate gets you the same results as a targeted list of 2,500 with a 10% response rate, with the added bonus that you get to tell people that you sent it to 50k contacts. So not only do you get the same response, but you also get this warped perception of greater reach. And even if you're calculating ROI, a really cheap list isn't going to come in outrageously high from an ROI perspective.
And its tolerated. Know anyone who's been levied big fines for buying lists? Probably not. Early on in my email career the worst that happened was that my ESP shut off our service for a few days. Most people just ignore your email, but that's it. They don't even unsubscribe. So the penalties are low. If people were more adamant - like Chris Brogan is - maybe things would be different, but very few are holding you accountable. But they will. Look at how Hotmail is handling Graymail and Bacn.
To Vincent's point, there is more at play here, namely reputation and trust. So you have to look at your company and consider how much exposure you are willing to take on when it comes to the reputation of your brand, your company. And, when you do it the right way and provide something of value to an audience who welcomes it, you'll get better results.
And if you buy your way into emails, where does it stop? As a company, how will you treat social media?
I think the better question might be "what does it mean to my customer/potential customer regardless of the business model." I think we can make a case for purchasing a very targeted list based on a specific persona that might be worth testing. Even in that case, the process of warming those candidates is so important. So often we want to buy a list and "pow" here's an offer to buy my product now! There is such an influx of "noise" in our inboxes and I agree with Mark that "very few are holding you accountable. But they will." The environment is changing so much and I think the days are numbered where we just buy a list that matches a general critera and we blast away hoping for a menial response to cover our hard and soft costs.Email is a single component to the overall engagement of a customer. We need a "complete presence" where customers who need our products/soutions can find us/learn about us and engage with us. This has a lot to do with our web content and our ability to pull customers into our world and get them engaged so we can further the relationship. That being said, I foresee a future where we need to play on the customer's terms...no more unsolicited messages from someone I don't know but they think I want their product because I fit profile "x." I believe that recent web behavior is still the driving factor in being able to speak to customers very relevantly/timely, but that's not really something you buy in a list (but maybe in the future that will be where brokers go)...you're buying titles and old purchase history with little context or trending. It's always tough because senior leaders want revenue and they want it now...hence the solution to buy a list, which we inaccurately see as buying more revenue. And even in some cases, you may gain a few short-term dollars, but I believe we need to get better at sacrificing the short-term in order to build a healthier and more sustainable long-term which is ultimately our relationship building and loyalty.
Here's another wrinkle; we have a client who was desperate to reach a certain market segment for which they had very few opt-ins, so they purchased a list. We too were adamant about risking their reputation by spamming these individuals, so our client developed a direct mail piece. They sent over 6,700 postcards with PURLs and received a whopping 36 conversions.
Needless to say, questionable list quality combined with typically low response rates for direct mail and a somewhat mediocre incentive led to some pretty disappointing results -- certainly not worth the cost. In comparison, we emailed the same offer to the much smaller segment we for which we had opt-ins and the response rate was excellent -- over 200 conversions.
Question for the group.......our field sales team works off a named account list. One of our challenges in Marketing is how do we target those specific companies (The named account list does not neccessarily revolve around specific industries/verticals)? My company loves to purchase jigsaw lists, as they feel this is the only way to capture the contacts within their target accounts. The leads we generate from lead gen activities brings in a very low percent of these accounts, which makes it very challenging for me to fight the battle of "we will not email raw purchased lists".
Didn't know if anyone else has had this challenge?
Jennifer. You just took the conversation to another important level. I beleive what you're asking is "How do I setup my contact and account tables so that contact data coming in (list uploads, form completions) automatically associates with targetted accounts (captured in account table)???" Did i rephrase accurately? J
I think I may be in the minority here. I personally feel list acquisition is an important part of B2B marketing prospecting mix-if you execute it correctly. Notice I didn't say lead gen, because a purchased list is simply unverified and undeveloped lists of names and information. They should not be considered as sales ready leads or placed in your lead funnel. As a best practice, I use the Prospect contact table in Eloqua to store, validate and score the "suspects", after hitting a certain threshold of "cleanliness" they are automatically moved into Prospect Contact Group for nurturing within Eloqua through Program Builder.
David makes a very important point on developing and refining persona and profile criterion = segmentation. First, you will need perform data mining of your existing internal data to develop a profitable profile and persona. Be very specific and detailed in coming up with your criteria. This will help you narrow down your targeted list, save you on cost, as well as save you a lot of time when it comes to measuring engagement, campaign, and ROI attribution down the line. It's important to work with a reputable vendor, I can't tell you how many times in a day I get emails forwarded from executives on list vendors. Of course 99% of them are overseas and uses some type of web slurping tools to extract email addresses from various company websites--thank the executive and hit delete.
Below are some points to remember when choosing the right biz contact vendors such as Jigsaw (Salesforce.com), D&B, DemandBase, InfoUSA, Zoominfo, ReachForce, NetProspex, etc. BTW, only few of them will actually provide email address and the average accuracy rate was less than 80% for mailing address and 60 - 70% for email address which is just okay. There isn't one vendor I would suggest over another, that really depends on your industry and list criteria. I would suggest do some research and talk to the vendors. Below are some pointers:
1. Find out whether the vendors have a 100% granteed accuracy rate. Most of them will and you can be credited with contacts that are not accurate.
2. Ask for a trial list of 100 contacts based on your list criteria. If the vendor can't provide it, then they're not worth doing business with.
3. Make sure to include a handful of your existing clients in the trial list of criteria. By doing so, you can estimate rough percentage of accuracy by comparing the trial list against your internal data.
4. Perform a trial email of the 100 contacts to determine impact of your sender score.
5. Always create a separate database or SFDC view for your "suspects" list. This is when data silo is actually good.
6. Make sure your content is relevant! Most important point.
Hopefully this helps.
Jerry. Your comments are appreciated. Thanks for balancing this dialogue. What do you mean by "use the Prospect contact table [then] after hitting a certain threshold ... they are moved into Prospect Contact Group"? By "prospect contact table" are you saying that "flag" contacts in the Contact table as "prospects"?
Heather. I know you read everything. This is my 100th post to Topliners. Do I get an Eloqua hat or tshirt? ... or better, can I get some Eloqua branded argyle socks???
I'm on Eloqua 9 Team version, in this version under the Contacts table/tab there are three additional sub tabs Contacts, Prospects, and Companies. Prospects data set is totally separate from Contacts tab, but for some reason Eloqua decided to group the two data sets together in Eloqua. I simply utilized the Prospects category to store the pool of purchased list and a run a Program within Program Builder to dedupe and validate against the Contacts table. After that's been scrubbed the "suspect" pool is then renamed through PB with a new group name for nurture campaign.
I am also very glad that you responded about the potential positive uses for purchased lists. We are really compelled to use a lot of leased data, which we regularly clean and work hard to convert to subscribers, but there would be no way for us to reach the 3 million+ educators in the country (our target) without some help. We simply to not have the bandwidth (or the time) in our sales organization to build a subscriber list of that size. We do experience marginally better results with our "owned" contacts, but there is such a demand on my team to reach as many people as possible, that I'd never be able to do so without MDR, the company we use. Since they specialize in educational data, I feel confident in their methods, though I know that they only have about a 75% match for emails to a contact.
In my previous position (same company, different division) we rarely used purchased lists because our reps were so well trained to collect customer data. It helped that our target market was maybe a tenth the size of what I work with now!
So criticize if you must, but until you've walked a mile in my shoes...