By Published On: February 22, 2021

Your B2B salespeople have been utilizing the benefits of email since the beginning of time (well, since the beginning of emails). And for good reason. They use it to craft personalized messages for people who may not even know your company exists. And it’s relatively inexpensive.

But there’s a big difference between the tedious process that salespeople go through to find email addresses of viable prospects, and the wider net that you as a marketer are asked to cast in an effort to get more top-of-funnel leads for supplementing sales efforts.

Here are some tips for effectively (and ethically) curating an email list for your prospect marketing.

Find an ESP (Email Service Provider) with a large business database at its disposal that includes opt-in email addresses. There are plenty companies that will offer to sell you email lists, but reputable ESPs take responsibility for updating and maintaining their opt-in lists to ensure they are deliverable and in line with CAN-SPAM laws and regulations. We like Lake Group Media, and there are other good ones too.

Additionally, you should be aware that reputable companies won’t hand over a list of email addresses. Instead, you’ll “rent” the list and they’ll provide deployment services on your behalf. This is better for everyone, because if they handed those addresses over, they’d be liable for any SPAM you send to those addresses and you’ll be penalized if the list hasn’t been well maintained—if “bad” or bounced addresses end up in your database, your email platform could slow or cease your deployment capabilities. It’s easier to let your ESP manage all that data so you can focus on emailing the people you already know want to hear from you—your leads and your customers.

When it comes to building your list, start by determining which SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code(s) your target companies fall under. From there, you can drill down by geography, job title, gender, income level, and a host of other demographic information to make sure you’re reaching the right people. If you’re not sure exactly how to do this, your ESP can give you some guidance.

Undoubtedly, some names will appear on your final list that won’t fit your audience, but that just comes with the prospecting territory. Your goal is to get a large enough audience to make it worth your while, but only to include those who are in your actual targeted group. If your audience is very niche and/or hard to identify, you could end up with a list that’s too small to get the response rates you need. If that’s the case, you may want to look into other options, like supplementing with lists from industry organizations or tradeshow attendees.

Your ESP will provide you with open and click rates. You can also request further data on who opened and clicked to get some insights into the types of people that are responding, and you can use those insights to adjust the list for the next deployment, and even other marketing efforts. For example, you may think C-Level employees are the ones you want to reach with your message, but most of your opens and clicks came from middle managers. This presents an opportunity to refine your list or do some subject line testing.

To avoid sending messages to customers or prospects who already know you, ESPs will give you the option to de-dupe your current list against the one you’re renting. This will ensure your message is only going to true prospects and it will save you money, as you pay by the number of names you’re renting for each deployment.

If you use industry organizations (like trade associations) to deploy emails on your behalf, you’ll get the benefit of the email coming from a company they already do business with, which makes the recipient more likely to open it. They should also be able to de-dupe your current customer list against theirs and offer you additional insights after the deployment.

So, there you have it. As a B2B company, you can, and as a general rule, should, send emails to people who’ve never heard of you in the hopes of creating new leads for your sales team. Choosing your email partner and your target audience carefully will keep your reputation intact and will get you the best results. Good luck, and feel free to contact us if you need help.

About the Author: Danette Knickmeier

Danette Knickmeier
The number of hats Danette wears at the agency rivals the number of toppings you can put on a pizza. Now seven years into her second residency at cat&tonic, she enjoys putting her many talents to use, including (but not limited to) account services, project management, strategic planning, copy and content writing, general operations, and snack ordering. Her wicked planning skills and natural ability to keep projects on task—without annoying all parties involved—make her our go-to, get-it-done person. Danette’s first stint at [c&t] lasted six years before she got the itch to try on a few larger agencies for size. She grew professionally and made several life-long friends in those days, but she missed the small agency vibe and was eagerly welcomed back by her life-long [c&t] friends.
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