You’re under pressure to deliver results on your next marketing campaign. Your company has neglected to increase subscribers in the past and now has to make up for lost time, pronto! You have set up a new business and have to start from scratch, or maybe your CEO just wants to brag to the Board about your big list?

There are so many reasons why “get a bigger list” gets bandied about without considering the best (and by that I mean ‘smartest’) way to attract quality leads. You need email leads that will pay off over time and not damage your sender reputation.

You could buy a list:

Right? Wrong!

Buying any list comes with some pretty heft down sides. Lead generation is a little like losing weight, if it was really that easy then more of us would do it. And there wouldn’t be all those TV ads for exercise machines promising that it only takes 10 minutes a day.

There’s not much point buying email lists these days, due to stronger spam regulations. People must opt-in to receive emails from an organisation/company. You must not send any unsolicited emails in Australia, even to ask people if they want to subscribe, or you are in breach of the Spam Act 2003. Buying lists also violates the rules of consent under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This European data privacy act came into effect in May 2018 and has been widely adopted as email marketing best practice.

The companies who do sell data lists are giving you access to users who have given permission to be contacted (hopefully) – but let’s face it, how many hot leads can you imagine would say “sure, anyone you want can contact me”? Most people are more cautious with their personal data.

For these reasons, I don’t recommend buying cold data lists. There’s also another big concern. You risk all emails from your IP being blocked by gmail, yahoo etc. Plus most email service providers (ESPs), such as Mailchimp, won’t allow you to send to bought lists because you could dirty the shared IP reputation and ultimately damage all campaign deliverability. It’s not worth it!

What about renting:

Less hassle, but it depends who your housemates are!

Via lead companies there are ways that you can ‘rent’ a list. The lead provider would publish the email on your behalf. This has less risk and you can set the parameters for who to target but you don’t ‘own’ the list for future use.

There is still the ROI downside that the people on the list don’t know you and are therefore less likely to engage with the organisation when it’s cold calling. The upside is you could be reaching a new audience that you otherwise would be unable to contact and you can piggyback off the relationship with a reputable partner.

If you’re gonna do it, do it right (right!):

You get what you pay for!

Paid Lead Generation strategies work better because your lead gen partner will promote the organisation on other sites and give people the option to subscribe – it’s clean, non-obtrusive and spam-compliant. Then they send you the data for people who have given their email address and meet your criteria (age, location etc).

The challenge is knowing exactly which audience you want to reach and deciding how targeted you campaign should be. Choose a lead generation company that has access to the right partners and it will increase your chance of success.

The main pros of paid lead generation:

  1. Subscribers opt in to receive your communications.
  2. Limits the risk to the cleanliness of your list, because all leads will be verified (if you’re working with a reputable lead gen partner).
  3. Target your campaigns to attract the ideal subscribers.
  4. You can work with partner sites to increase brand exposure and reach new audiences.

Start a conversation:

Get off on the right foot. A little wining & dining doesn’t hurt!

It’s time to get out your little black book. Or at least make sure that the people who are already familiar with your company know that they can subscribe to hear from you regularly.

This includes your social media followers. They are the perfect ‘warm leads’ to approach. It’s easy to run a lead generation campaign using Facebook Lead ads. It’s simple for users to subscribe without leaving the Facebook platform, you can reach new audiences and, if you target the campaign correctly, you will attract quality leads.

Facebook ads enables you to create lead gen forms directly on Facebook and target specific age, locations and interests. You can keep the ad creative on brand as well.

For example, I’ve recently run Facebook leads campaigns for clients that attracted new subscribers for around $0.90-$1.70 per lead and started with a budget of $80. This is very competitive cost per acquisition by paid lead gen standards. The quality has been high and retention has been excellent.

Another way to entice new subscribers is making sure you give them something of value when they visit your site. WIIFM is as powerful as ever, so roll out the welcome mat and convince them they are missing out if they don’t subscribe.

It can help prompt subscriptions if you have a hook with a free asset, such as invitation to an event, white paper to download, ebooks, competitions etc. Anything that’s going to appeal to your target audience and make them want to get to know your better.

Email still has a lot going for it as the channel of choice at the pointy end of the purchasing funnel. It’s worth investing in your lists to make sure you have the right audiences to increase your ROI. Grow your email list the smart way, and your email campaigns will become one of your strongest converters.