There could be any number of reasons why you might choose to purchase a B2B email list and broadcast out to it as part of your overall marketing strategy. It could be that you are a new business and simply want to ‘introduce’ yourself to the world and build up some awareness of your brand in the business arena. You might be hosting an event or conference and simply want to reach out to more delegates in specific business sectors with a view to putting more ‘bums on seats’. Or plainly and simply, you may just want to win more business which is true of about 98% of email campaigns or else why would you do it?

Ok, so having decided that you want to win more business by reaching out to more potential customers and prospects, what do you do next? Your route to a successful campaign will depend on a number of factors and you’ll need to get it right if you are to have decent chance of achieving your objectives.

1) Who Should I buy a list of B2B emails from?

The answer could be “how long is a piece of string?”, but in reality it isn’t. Where and who you choose to buy your data from will be pivotal to the success or failure of your email campaign. Here are some bits of advice when choosing where you might source your business email data from:

  • Do some homework on your potential data provider. Are they a data owner, list re-seller or an independent data broker? Whatever they are, check that they are bone fide. Are they ICO registered and DMA members? No? How can any credible supplier of data not be registered with the two most significant bodies relating to data management and legislation? Don’t touch them.
  • Are they open and honest about how they source their data? No? Don’t want to tell you that their data is scraped from websites over in the Philippines? Don’t touch them.
  • Do they update and verify/cleanse their database on a regular basis? If so, within what timeframes? No? If they can’t tell you the average age of their database and how it is maintained and cleansed then don’t touch them.
  • Do they offer guarantees on the delivery rates of their emails against hard bounces? No? Their data will be of poor quality and they are reluctant to put their money where their mouth is as a result – don’t touch them.
  • Are they offering you 50,000 email records for £300? Yes? Data at this price simply cannot be well managed and maintained – fact. Don’t touch them.
  • Do they use phrases like “our data is double or triple opt-in”? Yes? Opt-in is a myth – what they really mean is that their records haven’t opted out. It’s just sales pitch and marketing jargon designed to bamboozle you. Don’t touch them.
  • Are they happy to provide you with ‘live’ sample data? No? They have clearly got no confidence in their data quality or if they do provide with samples, these are often doctored so they are 100% up to date. This is so that you make a purchase on the strength of 20 perfect sample records. When you then buy that 20,000 record list, just watch the drop in quality. Don’t touch them.
  • Are they trying to sell you thousands of records when you’re only looking for small pilot test list? Unfortunately, this is down to sales pressure – list owners only have one product to sell to you and as a result they will tell you that their data is the best and that’s why you need to buy loads of it – it’s just sales pitch. Don’t touch them.

I could go on of course, but Joking aside, ensure that whoever you choose to be your trusted partner in providing you with B2B email lists are credible and ethical and that their ‘story’ stacks up. If you’re unsure, speak to an independent and impartial list broker and you’ll get an honest appraisal.


2) Client Testimonials

You’ll want your supplier to be able to demonstrate some credibility before you spend your hard earned marketing budget with them, so do some homework on them. Check out their website and look into their existing client portfolio and look at their testimonials. If they aren’t able to demonstrate any credibility and their only testimonial is from ‘Fred’s Van Hire’, then there’s probably a good reason for that. Move on.


3) How much does a B2B email list cost?

If I had a pound for every time I’m asked this… It’s a bit like being asked “how much does a new car cost?” and of course the answer is that it depends on what sort of a list you want.  In car terms, do you want a Volkswagen Golf or a Bentley? A Ford Fiesta or a Ferrari? It’s not so much about what car you think you want – it’s much more about what car you actually need. You probably wouldn’t decide to buy a Ferrari if you’re looking for a car to do the nursery and school runs in every morning. It might be big and bold and the best money can buy, but if it’s not fit for purpose then it’s a waste of money.

Data is much the same, but in my experience (assuming that we are only talking about quality data lists here and I do hope we are), then prices range from about £200 to £1,500 per 1,000 records depending on what you need. If you’re looking for hairdressers UK wide, then a good quality list should be within the £200 to £300 per 1,000 records price range. If you’re looking for very specific niche job titles within very niche business sectors, then you’ll need a specialist data list provider and you can expect to pay anything between £500 to £1,500per 1,000 records.

Don’t be fooled by thinking volume is king or data tap room talk of email marketing being purely a numbers game. There’s no point in buying 20,000 email records if the criteria isn’t right and doesn’t match your target client profile. You’d be better off buying 2,000 records that may be significantly more expensive on a cost per 1,000 basis, but if the data list is spot on in terms of the target audience, then it will probably yield better results for you and give your more chance of success. With data, the 3 key things to remember are quality, quality and quality.


4) How many records will I need to buy?

This isn’t such a daft question to be honest. When deciding how much data to purchase, this is very often determined solely on the budget available and if you don’t have much budget to start with then you won’t be buying a great deal of data. But let’s assume for a moment that there are no budget restraints, what do you need to consider in terms of the volume of data you need?

  • A basic rule of thumb with quality email data campaigns is a 10% open rate and a 1% click through rate. If your product or service is high end and one purchase constitutes a profit of £25,000, then you may only need a small purchase of 1,000 very target records to win that one piece of business that pays for the campaign in one hit and generates a healthy profit. However, consider your ROI if the ‘widget’ that you’re marketing sells for £25 a time. You’re going to need a lot more data to cover and recoup some profit here because at an average of 1% click through, a 1,000 record purchase probably won’t generate sufficient pay-back for you. Work backwards through this ROI equation and figure out how many pieces of business you need to win on with your campaign and how much data you will need to get you there.
  • Also consider the workload that an email campaign can generate. I may have forgotten to mention, but when buying email lists, it’s an idea to ensure that there are contact telephone numbers available too so you can do some tele-marketing follow ups to your warm responders i.e. clickers and openers. Again, based on my simple rule of thumb, if you buy 10,000 records then make sure that you’ve got the resource to be phoning up 100 clickers and 1,000 openers in the days immediately after you’ve sent out the email broadcast.


5) What results can I expect?

This can depend on lot of variables but assuming that a) you’ve used quality data b) you’ve used a suitable email broadcasting piece of software (more of this in point 6) and c) the subject line and content of your email was clear and appealing, then my rough rule of thumb is as mentioned in point 4 previously. It’s important that you know this so you can set out realistic expectations especially if you haven’t done an email campaign before. I recall one client complaining after purchasing 1,000 records that he’d only won 20 pieces of new business on the back of the campaign – I was dumfounded at the magnitude of the success of his campaign and he was annoyed that he hadn’t got at least 100 new orders. So let’s set those expectations shall we?

  • 10% open rate (give or take a % either way) is pretty good. The range is probably more like 8% to 12% open rate for a decent campaign, but I’ve often see upwards of 15% open rate as well.
  • 1% click through rate – again, this may fluctuate between 0.75% and 1.5%, but 1% for clickers is about right. So if you were only thinking of buying 1,000 records to win 50 pieces of new business, you may need to think again.
  • 10% of clickers will convert into business – again fairly broad-brush rule of thumb – it could be as good as 15% or as low as 5% – 10 clickers gets you 1 or 2 pieces of new business as a general rule.


6) What email broadcasting platforms can I use?

The answer is whatever you like, but there are many email broadcasting products on the market that are simply not licensed for use when broadcasting to  3rd party purchased lists. There are many products that are suitable for use with 3rd party purchased lists of course, but you should look into this very carefully when buying an email broadcasting tool in-house.  The consequences of using a non-compatible email broadcasting product can be very damaging to your campaign and will certainly have a direct impact on your delivery rates which with good quality data should be at 90+ delivery rate against hard bounces.

The other option is to ask the list owner or list broker if they offer a managed email broadcast solution and many do. This may mean spending a little extra on the campaign, but it ensures that the email is delivered on a viable system and it can save you a lot of time and resource in hiring the services of email broadcast experts.


7) How often can I use the data?

This largely depends on what kind of B2B data licence you choose to purchase. There are 3 types :

  • Single use license – allows you to send one email only to the contacts on your list
  • 12 month multiple use license – this allows you to email contacts on multiple occasions during a designated 12 month license period. Many data providers will cap the maximum number of email uses permitted during the 12 month license period to prevent over-use of email data.
  • Eternal use license – this is the equivalent of an outright purchase of the data list although some usage terms may still apply as they would under multiple use license terms.

Never over-use your purchased email data. You may be as keen as mustard to drum up interest in your product and that’s great, but believe me, sending out 3 emails a week to the same audience for 6 months isn’t going to make you very popular at all. Think about how many emails you delete every day from people trying to sell you something – treat your own audience as you wish to be treated. They are only human as are you. Simply because you think that the data set you purchased is perfect and that you designed the best email content known to man, it doesn’t give you the right to expect unbelievable results overnight and by pestering people more and more this will only compound the problem. Less is more. Send an email a month to your target audience so they might gradually warm to your brand as you start to grow on them and become front of mind. Don’t bombard them to such an extent  that they complain about you to the ICO – a £50,000 fine for misuse of data will leave a very nasty taste in your mouth,  but I’m afraid to say that you deserved it.


So there you have it, a whistle stop guide to using purchased B2B data lists for your email campaigns. There are probably dozens of other things I could have covered, but whilst the list is not exhaustive, I think I’ve touched on many of the key things for you to consider.

If you have other questions that I haven’t covered here, then why not get in touch with me directly and we can discuss it more detail. Our advice is free and we are independent and impartial

In the meantime, best of luck with your email campaigns or if you’re planning a campaign but uncertain about data, maybe this blog will give you some food for thought.

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