While cold outreach still has a place for sales teams, there's no room for it in your email marketing platform.

We've received the following request quite a few times and felt it was time to share why we advise against using purchased lists - and offer advice on alternatives!

“Hey - I got a great deal on a list of 5,000 SUPER qualified contacts. They gave me an email, phone, and home address and I want to start sending to them right away.”

In the past several years, there’s been a shift in marketing strategy which has left 0 tolerance for cold-emailing in the eyes of the consumer. Also worth mentioning, the email platform that’s costing you $50k+ annually can (and probably will) end your contract without a refund for mass emailing unsuspecting contacts. Don’t believe us? Check the acceptable use policy you signed during onboarding.

Worse than costing your company a large contract loss fee, you’re risking losing your credibility in the market. Let’s say those potential customers were a great fit for your product or service. Odds are you just blew your shot by reaching out to them with your un-personalized mass email using their contact information from a purchased source. They’re pretty savvy and they can spot an email they’re not expecting right away. Consumers are accustomed to inbound marketing flawlessly executed by the big guys and are highly unlikely to respond well to outbound marketing.

Why Cold Emailing is Not Effective

Inbound marketing is personalized. It’s carefully crafted by data-driven marketers that have taken the time to get to know their audience on a deeper level than their demographic. They know their interests, where they get information, what drives them, and they know how to capture their attention.

A few definitions… Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have. More on that here.

Because of the Amazon effect and the fantastic job marketers do crafting compelling inbound messages that add value, capture our interest, and don’t interrupt our day, it’s nearly impossible to capture consumers’ interest with a message sent to a purchased list.

Consumers are smart and they know if they’ve met you before. If not, they’re programmed to mentally catalog you as spam. So, by emailing that purchased list, you’ve done more harm than good. Especially if these were qualified prospects - you’ve now tarnished your brand image to them and lost a potential customer.

How Cold Marketing Emails Ruin your Reputation

“Trust me, this is a really good list!” That’s what one of my customers thought. Their sales team implemented Marketing Hub in HubSpot and uploaded a list of 30k contacts. A small portion of that list was purchased (and they thought they were super qualified leads). Turns out, something called a spam trap was included in that list. In fact, several of them were included (30%). These traps take over emails that have become inactive for one reason or another and now serve as a flag for email service providers (ESPs) that you’re emailing invalid emails. If these are included in a list, ESPs (like HubSpot) know that this specific contact did not opt-in on your site and they flag you as spammy. You collect a flag of sorts (the exact process varies by ESP) and after you collect enough flags, every contact on that list is quarantined. #2020PTSD 

This client had every email in their account quarantined and damaged their sender reputation to the extent that, as they imported new email lists, they were automatically quarantined before they were given a chance to send. This shows that you’ve lost so much trust from your ESP that you’re blocked from sending.

Once an email is quarantined, you can only recover it in a few select ways (and they’ll make you work for it!). You can read the details here if you’d like, but it’s best to avoid this happening in the first place as you'll only be able to recover the contacts you can prove have given explicit consent or have engaged with your emails in the past year.

How can I get quality leads without buying lists?

Glad you asked! The best way to increase lead volume and quality for your business is to engage a few key marketers to support your team as you embrace inbound marketing.

  1. Marketing automation expert. This team member gets your data in order and starts to know your customer as more than just a hot or cold email address. They’ll build personas, gather data-driven audience segmentation, and automate your systems to create a great customer experience for new leads and existing customers alike.
  2. Content marketing guru. Now that your data is in order, you need to enlist a top-notch content marketer that knows how to take the data-driven segments created by your marketing automation expert and craft the perfect message to resonate with them and get them to take action. They know what to say and how to say it.
  3. Demand generation pro. Knowing what to say and who to say it to isn’t super useful until you have a demand generation pro behind you that knows where and when to say what your content marketing guru has crafted. This pro knows how to take one piece of content and leverage it to drive customer interest.

Need help getting started?

Coastal Consulting specializes in helping companies harness their data to inform audience segmentation. Our process tees up opportunities for your content team to craft exceptional content and create memorable customer experiences. If you’re ready to take the first step towards building an inbound marketing strategy, we’re here for you!

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