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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  • 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 🙂

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • Is it Monday already?

        B2B mailing lists are no more scrubbed than the bottom of my shoe and you know it.

    • 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

      • Is it Monday already?

        Noya is right! When I get a solicitation, I turn it over to the security department. If more than three people report it, then mail from the domain is blocked. The offending solicitor will get added to the vendor blacklist.

        I often conctact the solicitor and inform them that they may have purchased an email list that was obtained illegally. I request that they give up thier source. More than once Lead411 was mentioned as thier source.

        You, Mr Blue had my name and email on your list with a fake elevated title. You obtained it through the use of malware, or you obtained it from someone else who made use of malware.

        There is no legal way anyone could have obtained my name, or those of my colleagues who work in the secure enclave where I work.

        There are no “senior executives” in our department, but somehow you had that title linked to my name.

        Do not lie and say your data is “opt in”, or “verified”. You know damn well that it is rubbish. You know damn well you trade lists with the others, and nobody cares about accuracy. You know damn well that the names and emails are nothing more than stolen data. You know damn well that all the B2B list sellers are charlatans.

    • Is it Monday already?

      You are correct. The fastest way to get on a vendor blacklist is to make use of a B2B vendor. The are selling stolen data.

      You are buying names and emails of shipping clerks, receptionists, accountants, etc. The B2B vendors just change the titles to manager, director, purchasing agent, etc.

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  • 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

  • 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

    • Is it Monday already?

      I deliberately use a nickname on LinkedIn to avoid your type. I have a dozen fake profiles on LinkedIn, and Facebook with important sounding titles at fortune 500 companies. I set them up years ago to thrawt you. Good luck data thief.

  • 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

    • Is it Monday already?

      Opt in? I highly doubt that.

      I better not be on your lists. I can assure you thst I opt in to no mailer of any kind, ever.

  • 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

    • Is it Monday already?

      They are just a subsidiary of GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the underbelly of the Internet.

  • 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

    • Hunt down SPAM

      No you do not. You get your name list the same way as others. Your lists have profiles with fake “management “ titles. Your service helps your customers SPAM law abiding citizens.

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

    • Is it Monday already?

      You had better keep in mind that some of us take the trading of our personal particulars (name, email, employer) very seriously.

      I, for one, do not want to be on your lists. I am very rude tward your customers and I let them know that your data is stolen and tanted with fake profiles.

  • Mary Orellana

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

    • Is it Monday already?

      LeadFerret had my name and email attached to a fake “director” profile. Your data is rubbish. It is not opt in. It is not verified.

  • 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/

    • Is it Monday already?

      I seriously doubt your data is opt in. I bet you get it illegally just like all the rest.

      My employer creates fake targets for business like you. The fake targets are strictly internal, and have important sounding titles. If the fake targets appear on your list then you are a proven to be trafficking in data stolen from our internal address books. Why? There is no other way you could have a name and email for someone like “Senior Director Fredrick Ugine Ckyou”

  • 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

    • Is it Monday already?

      It is in your best interest that your list be opt in. I do not take kindly to my name appearing on those lists.

  • 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,
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    B2B Contact Lists is the leading provider of Technology and Healthcare leads.
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  • Thanks for finally writing about >B2B Email List Guide: Buying, Renting or Building Your List via @wittlake — B2B Digital Marketing <Loved it!

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  • Asha Prakash

    Hi Eric,

    Great article, even though its a old one its gives the valid information even for today marketing strategies, however i want to give a valid point on buying an email list, most of the clients who buys an email are not aware of strategies to host an email campaign, for instance to get an email campaign successful its not only having a quality email list, the email template should be catchy, subject line plays the major role in an email campaign, Emailonbusiness provides the entire solution to get an email campaign successful starting from the data to subject line, if your looking for opt-in email list visit this website https://emailonbusiness.com/

  • I highly appreciate your hard work for creating this post that is very useful for efficient business marketing.

  • Is it Monday already?

    There is no excuse for B2B lists. The data is rubbish. Many of you B2B sellers know me because I have harassed you or send you threatening messages demanding that my name and email be removed from the rubbish you are selling.

    There us no need to lie and claim your data is “scubbed”. There is no reason to claim that your data is “opt in”. Nobody in thier right mind would “opt in” to your lists.

    Lead411, Cameronlists, MoutainViewData, and PureIncubation are the worst offenders. All four have attached my name to fake profiles. Typically they label me a manager in Silicon Valley. I guess that makes my name worth more? Really I am a software developer in Asia and make no purchasing decisions at all.

    I work in a Secure Enclave. My email is not public. I do not use social networks. I only have a LinkedIn profile that is in an assumed name. You can only get my email by theft.

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