B2B Email List Guide: Buying, Renting or Building Your List

B2B Email List OptionsWhether you want to promote your upcoming webcast, send a multi-channel campaign, or give your telemarketing team a list of contacts to call down on, it starts with a list.

So should you rent, buy or build an email list? How much do the different options cost and when are they most appropriate? This guide will get you started.

Buying a B2B List

Historically purchased lists have had a bad reputation for quality. While it is true that quality is lower, the relatively low cost still works out well for many companies. Consider purchased lists if these points are true:

  • You have a clear plan to make use of the data throughout the year.
  • The targeting options generally available meet your needs.

Expect to pay anywhere from a $0.50 top $1.50 per contact for purchased lists, with some specialized (and much higher quality) sources costing as much as $3 per name.

Potential providers: Data.com (formerly Jigsaw), NetProspex, D&B.

For more information on purchasing lists, see Buying B2B Email Marketing Data: Challenges and Recommendations.

Renting a B2B List

List rentals are still the only way to access lists from some trade publications, and these lists often support the most extensive industry-relevant selection criteria. List rentals can also reach a larger portion of a given target audience than purchased lists.

Consider list rentals if you meet the following criteria:

  • The selection criteria you need are not available through purchased lists.
  • You are working on a very targeted program and will only be using the list a couple times in the year.
  • You are promoting a one-off event, such as a webcast or local in-person event, and the additional available reach is key.
  • You don’t need access to the list itself. Most companies deploy to the list for you, you never receive an actual list of emails.

Expect to pay a premium for the extra data available through list rentals, with the cost per name ranging from about $0.15 to $0.60 for one time use.

Potential providers: Find lists yourself with a list database like NextMark or going directly to a publisher, or you can work through a list broker like MeritDirect or one of many smaller brokers.

Building a B2B List

List builds are the ultimate for targeted data. Lists are generally built with a combination of research and calling and can be built for almost any criteria.

List builds quickly become very expensive. However, in the following circumstances a list build is often worth the investment.

  • You are targeting very specific roles and/or companies.
  • You need the cleanest data possible for a program that has a very high investment per person (such as a gift or high end dimensional direct mail).
  • You need to reach a much higher percentage of prospects than you can through list purchases but will be using the data multiple times.

For a relatively broad custom built list that is telemarketing verified, expect to pay at least $5 per name. List builds with very specific target criteria can quickly exceed $20 per name.

Potential providers: ReadyContacts or ReachForce. Or if you have time on your hands, you can build a list yourself.

A Note of Caution

Before you jump into any list, make certain lists are really right for you. Lists have two distinct disadvantages versus alternative marketing options:

  • A list constricts your message to a relatively small, discrete audience. If your goals are broad communication or broad lead generation, lists are likely not your best initial investment.
  • Recipients do not expect email from you, giving lists a far lower average response rate than an opt-in list built organically over time.

Your Turn

How do you decide between buying, renting or building lists, or do you opt to only use lists built organically over time? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake). Or let me know if you need help selecting the best path.

Photo Credit: Biscarotte via Flickr cc

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  • http://Www.yournextcmo.com/ Jeff Swan

    Great advice as always Eric! I’ve found that using a combination of the three works really well. It’s interesting to watch the “Building” list grow in proportion to the overall list. Makes me think we’re doing something right at my company :)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Jeff! Yes, it has definitely been interesting for me to watch the organic list, if I should even call it that, grow for this blog over time as well without any specific list efforts on my part.

  • Dara Schulenberg

    How about building your ‘house’ list using quality content your prospects actually want? Easier said than done, and by no means a quick process but it delivers better, more sustainable results over lifetime of customer experience vs any singular campaign list-building initiative. Right now, those who combine Inbound + Outbound are winning in our client base.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Personally I’m a fan of opt-in lists built organically over time, but the reality is many marketers feel they need more than they can build organically. The pressure for this quarter results and the time required to organically grow your house list just don’t fit well together.

  • Noya Lizor

    Buying lists is such a bad idea. Just because there are companies in existence that sell email lists doesn’t make it right to buy them. Bought lists are not permission-based and therefore anything you send to a bought list is perceived as SPAM. It damages not only your reputation as a sender but also the reputation of email in general as a respectful and professional marketing channel. Better to either rent a list (i.e. send through companies whose subscribers have agreed to receive emails from third parties) or best of all, to build your own list. Yes, that’s the most challenging way to do it, but it’s the most respectful and effective way to do it.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Noya, although I have a similar personal reaction to buying, reinforced every time I look at my inbox, many rented lists today are not significantly better. Increasingly publishers are buying lists, cleaning and vetting them over a short period of time, and then either renting these lists or using them as the basis to sell cost per click or lead generation programs to marketers.

      Approached the way many publishers are, marketers can actually drive good short term results without significantly undermining their technical sender reputation or their brand. Unfortunately, most resort to just spamming instead, maybe I will share that practice in a followup post.

    • Tom Blue – Lead411

      Noya, I have to disagree.

      Email prospecting and telemarketing while they maybe annoying to some are both extremely effective in B2B marketing. MarketingProfs just did a study on this. See below.

      I personally am never annoyed or think it is spam when someone emails a relevant product for my business. The key is to really target who you send to. Don’t blanket send to the whole executive team. Target specific roles and focus on some pain points they may be having.

      Outbound marketing gets a bad rap for no reason. I think it is because 99% of the marketing content you read online is created by people who sell some type of inbound marketing service.

      http://predictablerevenue.com/blog/marketingprofs-com-outbound-1-effective-form-b2b-lead-generation

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  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    Agreed. One challenge with shadier players is the sample data has been combed through, it is good. Once they get a marketer over that hurdle, the real batch of data is where the problems begin.

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  • john mcode

    Absolutely
    agree with you on the importance of list building. B2B email list is an
    important key aspect for lead generation. To get more accurate list building
    visit
    elisthunter.com

  • SBF Inc.

    Best Price on SIC Code generated data list I ever purchased came from a company called Absolute-Source.com, I am not sure how they do it. They manage personal email campaigns as well. They push the importance of audience development with unique content and product propositions.

  • kruger

    check this guide – describes free source for building prospect / mailing / etc lists
    http://stuffinmybox.blogspot.com/2013/12/3-simple-steps-to-build-prospect-list.html

  • http://www.autopilothq.com Michael Sharkey

    Hi Eric, for list building at least I recommend your readers try Prospect Ace, it’s a free Google Chrome plug-in that finds verified email lists from social profiles like LinkedIn. Very useful for building a targeted email list: http://www.autopilothq.com/prospectace

  • Jay Woods

    Hi,
    Would you be interested in reaching out to iPhone/iPad/iPod Users with opt-in and licensed to be sold.
    A few other lists that would be of interest to you are Gamers, Mom’s Email Lists, Boat Owners, Pet Owners, High Networth Individuals, Wine or Chocolate Enthusiasts,Smoking Enthusiasts, Sports Enthusiasts, Boat Owners , Timeshare Owners, Travelers, Truck Owners,Affluent Consumers, Gamblers, Golfers and many more…

    Data Quality and Details:
    Data Fields:
    Contact Name (First, Middle and Last name), Mailing Address, IP Address,
    Domain, Opt-In emails and more…

    Acceptance rate: 100%
    permission based contacts.

    Usage License: Once you
    purchase the list you can use it for multiple times, no restrictions.

    MultiChannel Marketing: The list can be used for Email Marketing, Direct Mail
    Marketing,

    Accuracy Guarantee: 75% accuracy on data.

    Please let me know your needs…………..

    Thanks & Regards,
    Jay Woods
    Lead Generation
    Email: jwoods@switchways.com

    • Jay

      It’s only in US

  • tsamuel

    This is a great article. I’ve had half success with buying email list. My marketing manager had me use Hoovers.com, which turned out good. We also did a list rental with FrescoData.com and got great results. The list rental was cost effective, and our ROI was the best its been in recent years. Building lists is time consuming and time is of the essence in this economy. You have to leverage everything appropriately to be successful. I liked the two companies we used, because the people on the lists were opt in and targeted based on our campaign – not just a bunch of randoms.

  • Peter Sanchez

    Hi Eric, nice article. Here’s another B2B and Specialty email list supplier you may take a look at. I’ve purchased a few email lists from them already and I’m quite pleased. Their Web site URL is http://www.buyelists.com

    • Peter Sanchez

      Someone asked me and this site ONLY sells email lists, NO POSTAL data as far as I’ve seen so far..

    • VJ Agrawal

      Peter,
      Thanks for sharing this info. The other day I needed an email list for Germany and purchased it from BuyELists.com. Everything worked great. Just signed up, browsed the site/data cards, selected the list, paid it and got an email confirming the transaction/purchase. The morning after I downloaded the list… Since then, I’ve purchased quite a few lists and I’m thrilled. I’ll keep using them. I recommend buy BuyELists.com to everyone!
      VJA

  • Josh Natella

    Hi Eric, I’m sorry for the Self Promotion but your Blog post really hits the nail on the head with what our company does and we’re looking to raise awareness about our US based company.
    We have over 35 Million Records across the US and 15 million Internationally. Our Email Lists start at 50 cents and go down from there in terms of cost and we verify the emails/ remove Spam Traps before we release the lists so the data is realistically 99% Deliverable.
    Our website is http://www.divcomgroup.com

    Thanks for writing on this topic
    -Josh

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  • Hintz

    Very useful article. I’m buying my b2b email lists myself but no way I’m paying $0.5 per contact.
    I just bought last week a list of US dentist emails of around 10.000 records from leadsdeposit.com for $120 – this means around 0.01 per record. Very cheap I would say and the list was of pretty good quality.
    Also there are also free ways of building your lists but it will take some time and research work.
    You can get quality contact details from yellow pages, truelocal and other free directories.

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  • Katie

    I think it’s important to consider buying an email list.
    Buying a list tends to get a bad rap but it has proven to be a successful
    marketing tactic. When buying an email list you’ll want to ensure you’re
    working with reputable data providers; ones who clean their lists regularly and
    will credit you for any bad data that leaks through. Here’s an interesting
    article that outlines how you get make money with email lists. Feel free to
    check it out!
    http://blog.clickback.com/index.php/how-to-make-money-with-email-lists/

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  • http://www.cedardb.com/ Cedar Communications Inc.

    Looking
    for reliable B2B email lists or Business Email List? http://www.cedardb.com/services_new/business-email-list/

  • Mary Orellana

    If you’re looking to build a successful email marketing campaign, I highly recommend you check out LeadFerret.com.

  • Shilpa Das

    OptinContacts consolidates research & experience to offer special marketing database solutions, services for b2b marketing crosswise over businesses & geographies. OptinContacts offers Email Lists of Automotive, Manufacturing Users, Technology Users, SAP, Baan, Lawson Applications, Infor Applications, JD Edwards ERP Users, Oil And Gas, Travel And Tourism, Healthcare, Telecommunications etc. http://www.optincontacts.com/

  • Unlimited Dataleads

    Unlimited Data Leads introduces user friendly, web portal access to 30 million consumer and now 60 million business records for $50 a month. With the help of Unlimited Data Leads, people can watch their sales efforts and save time with accurate data. In addition to this, they can help their clients to find new prospects and at the same time have a great chance to increase their revenue in just a matter of minutes. http://www.unlimiteddataleads.com

  • Helen

    Thanks for the tips and detail about B2B. I came across one of the best B2B data solution from http://www.technodatagroup.com/ you may check it if you would like to do so.

  • b2b contact lists

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for shearing these information I Rely Appreciate you.

    B2B Contact Lists is the leading provider of Technology and Healthcare leads.
    Get access to decision makers and influencers across the globe.cheek it http://b2bcontactlists.com/

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