If you've ever bought a third party email list you already know there is multitude of lists to choose from. There are B2B and B2C email lists, lists targeting recipients in your area, lists targeting specific professions and even lists supposedly overflowing with "prospects ready to buy from you". Name a list and you can find it. And there always seems to be a list available that conveniently fits your target audience.
For some it's hard to resist the promise of instant access to thousands of 'qualified and ready to buy prospects.' However, you should take heed that these illusions of grandeur because it is nothing more than a trap.
Quitting Is Hard To Do
It's difficult to quit old habits. But the road to recovery is not as treacherous as it seems, especially when you choose to admit and accept the fact that list buying is ineffective. In a 2011 MarketingSherpa's B2B Marketing Benchmark Report only 11 percent of marketers scored the tactic of list buying at "four" or "five" – on a scale of 1 to 5, five being the most effective. But an overwhelming 57 percent rated it at "one." In addition to the ineffectiveness of this tactic, you're already tarnishing your brand reputation and it's just a matter of time before your IP is blacklisted.
Of course you might be in denial right now. You ask yourself, how can this be? You've always been buying lists and things seem to be working. But what if you reviewed your email history and results you've been producing? Do you notice a trend? Emails not getting through. Qualified leads dried up. Sales aren't as good as they used to be. What about your IP reputation? Do you keep on switching email service providers? Constantly moving your site to different IP addresses?
Let's face it. Things aren't going to get any better for you. It's ok to feel a little angry. It's all part of the process. You may even feel hopeless. What else is out there? Marketing to purchased lists is the only thing you've ever done.
Reality is, sending email to purchased lists is spam. No matter what a list broker tells you, those recipients never agreed to receive information from you.
So, what do you do?
The good news is, there's a better way. And not just one, but many legitimate and ethical strategies and tactics you can deploy to build, grow and nurture your email subscribers. To help you kick your list addiction and set you on the road to recovery, we have created the following five step plan.
5 Step Plan To Successful Recovery:
Commit yourself to change. To quote Albert Einstein "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If you want to see different results, you need to change what you're doing. And in order for that to happen you need to commit to change. Write out or print the quote. Pin it to your corkboard or tape it to your wall as a reminder. You're driving the change – commit to it.
2. Consider the Alternatives
There are so many legitimate ways to build your own email lists.
- Start creating compelling and useful content to attract traffic to your website.
- Optimize your website and provide opportunities for your visitors to sign up for newsletters, or daily digests. To fast track your list building activities, you may want to offer exclusive content in the form of ebooks or guides.
- Produce and host webinars, but ask for an email address to register.
- Run online contests.
- What about in the offline world? Do you host any events, participate in tradeshows? Find ways to gather email addresses there as well.Whatever tactic you decide to use, make sure you have permission from your recipients to market to them beyond your original offer. As a best practice it would be wise for you to include a confirmation the recipient has opted-in to your list, a reminder why they're on the list and provide them with a simple way to unsubscribe. Depending on your jurisdiction your local laws may already require you to do that anyway.
You can wrap all this list building activity in inbound marketing methodology. With this approach your focus will be on pulling your audience in, instead of interrupting them with unsolicited messages. Engage them in a way that builds trust and establishes you as an authority. Before you know it your audience will be looking forward to hearing from you.
There are so many things you can do to build an email list legitimately. Now you need to set some goals to help you along the road to recovery.
3. Set Goals
As with any marketing plan you need to set SMART goals. Make them Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based. Create a roadmap of how you're going to achieve your SMART goals. It will keep you focused.
4. Eliminate Temptation
Eliminate anything that would tempt you to revert to your list buying habits. Redirect the funding to inbound marketing activities. Focus on your new marketing plan. Filter out unsolicited emails from list brokers and send them to junk immediately. Since you probably already know who they are and have them in your contacts, remove them – permanently.
5. Share Success
Adopting and implementing a new marketing approach will put you on the right track to reaching your goals and rebuild your reputation as a marketer. Be proud of your new accomplishments, celebrate little wins and share your success with your superiors, colleagues and your community. It will validate your work and a commitment to make a change. Your success story will also inspire others to do marketing better.
List buying is dead. It's ineffective, can deteriorate your brand reputation and almost certainly will get you blacklisted. But you can escape your downward spiral by incorporating an inbound approach to your marketing by following our five step plan.