When it comes to email marketing, there are a lot of things to line up in order to maximize your return on investment. Your subject line needs to grab a customer’s (or a lead’s) attention. The content of your email has to be spot on: not too long, not too short, with just the right call to action. And, content and subject lines aside, your emails need to actually land in your recipients’ inboxes: if your latest blast experiences a high bounce rate and/or ends up in one spam folder after another, your return on investment is going to be abysmal.
There’s a lot of talk amongst marketers and bloggers about how to tackle each of these important facets of an email campaign. One thing that’s often ignored, though, is how to build your list in the first place. If you’ve been in business for years, you probably already have a good amount of customer data to work with. You can reach out to warm leads, and attempt to increase your customer lifetime value. If you’re in this boat, then you can focus on building more inbound leads. You’re probably already generating traffic to your website, and your goal should be to capture prospect data from potential leads as they visit your page.
If you’re just getting started, however, inbound marketing might not be enough for you. Sure, you should have an inbound marketing strategy, too: it’s always important to have a funnel in place for collecting email addresses from prospects as they’re browsing your site. Those leads can be nurtured into sales, and having a strategy in place to collect and nurture them is essential.
However, when your business is in its beginning stages, waiting around for inbound leads to come to you isn’t always realistic. You need to start generating sales today, not three months from now. In this situation, you’ll need to build a list of outbound leads and open up a line of contact with them.
How do you build your outbound list? What are the do’s and don’t? We’ve put together our top 3 tips for building outbound email leads. Read on to learn more.
Understand when building an outbound list makes sense
Before you spend time and money on growing your outbound list, you’ll need to assess whether or not it makes sense for you to do.
If you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) industry and closing high value contracts, building your outbound list is a sensible strategy. Each sale that you close is worth a significant amount, and the time you invest in putting together an outbound contact list has the potential to pay off exponentially.
On the other hand, if you’re running a business-to-consumer (B2C) business that involves a very large number of low value sales, attempting to build an outbound list for marketing purposes may not be worth your time. Growing your outbound list isn’t easy, and the math on your return on investment might not work out if you’re dealing with low value sales. In this case, you may want to focus your efforts on building your inbound list instead, and driving more traffic to your website.
Should I buy an outbound email list?
This is a common question amongst businesses new to email marketing. Is buying an email list worth it? The short answer is: no, generally speaking, it’s not.
Buying an outbound email list isn’t a good idea. For one thing, there’s no way to verify the quality of the list in advance. You might be purchasing a list full of undeliverable email addresses. Open rates from purchased lists are dramatically lower than with a list you’ve built yourself. And, worst of all, the fact that you haven’t curated and compiled the list yourself means that your chances of being flagged as spam are quite high. If that happens, your deliverability to other contacts may be compromised.
On top of everything else, most email service providers won’t let you use a purchased list. When working with most email platforms, you’ll notice that uploading a list of contacts requires that you tick a box acknowledging that those contacts opted-in to receive emails from you. Lying about this is a bad idea: the service provider could shut down your account and ban you from their service.
Build your outbound list
A much better approach is to build your outbound list yourself, using business-focused social media websites and various online lists.
There are a number of social platforms for businesses worth exploring. First and foremost, of course, is LinkedIn. Any reputable business person will have a LinkedIn profile: it’s a great place to find contact information for prospects who might be interested in your product. Crunchbase is another great option, though, especially if you’re in the tech startup space.
Once you’ve logged some hours browsing through social media profiles and collecting email addresses and contact info, you should move on to various online lists of businesses and contacts. Run a search for various types of lists related to your industry: a list of entrepreneurs that have received a certain award; a list of participants at a recent tradeshow; or, the list of clients that one of your direct competitors already works with. Scraping these lists for contact information is a great way to put together a relevant, targeted outbound contact list.
Verify your list
After you’ve put your list together, you’re ready to send your first outbound email, right? Wrong! Before you send that initial email, you need to verify your email list. Many of the email addresses you collected could be outdated or invalid, and sending an email to them is a surefire way to get your ISP blacklisted. Make sure you use a trusted, reputable email validation company like Zerobounce to verify your list’s contents. With that taken care of, you’ll be on your way to connecting with your first clients via your new outbound list!