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2 Posts authored by: Susan Howard-OMC-Oracle

You need to generate leads, you need to push prospects through the funnel, you need to close the deal --but at what cost?

You use emails as a tool to drive your sales, correct? Whether you have purchased lists from vendors who have the right to “share with 3rd parties,” or you are buying lists in bulk, sending unsolicited e-mail can hurt your sender score and waste valuable time that could be used to generate leads organically. 

Sending unsolicited emails through a list acquisition equals Internet spam - even if you acquired those lists legally through third party end-user acceptance. The fact that you acquired their name legally doesn’t mean your recipient will think your e-mails are any less “spammy.”



Wasted Time + Marketing = Bad News

Buying lists is an invitation to email marketing hell. Not only are you hurting your e-mail reputation, but you’re also wasting time that it takes to acquire the lists, upload them, create the campaigns, and execute – all to  then realize the response/opt-out rate totally killed your sender score and brand reputation.



The Path to Campaign Ineffectiveness

Wasting valuable strategic time may not convince you so let’s look at this from another angle, which includes more serious problems:


  • List overuse/ fatigue – how many other organizations purchased these lists and used them? How often is one contact being inundated with unsolicited emails? With today’s SPAM filters, a lot of these messages won’t make it in the inbox.
  • Quality of the prospects – Good email lists are never for sale. An unsolicited email isn’t going to generate excitement by the receiver.  I don’t know anyone to date that received an unsolicited email and thought, “Oh this is awesome! I kept waiting for an offer from a company I don’t know.  Look at that shiny pretty button – I must press it and go buy something.”
  • Unsubscribes/Hardbounce rates soar – When you buy a list, you have opened the invitation to be flagged as a spammer because of higher than normal unsubscribe rates. More times than not you will also see a higher than normal hardbounce rate. If you do any type of email marketing reporting, list buying will cripple & skew the real results of your campaign efforts.
  • Violating Anti-spam legislation and global policies - whether unintentionally or intentionally, when sending emails to purchased lists you have just put yourself on the front lines to be noticed -  just not the way you had hoped. Again, the probably of being flagged as a spammer is high, and that just sets you up for a rocky road of campaigning ahead. 



“Awww, Shucks…I Got Blocked”

Have you ever been blacklisted by Google, Yahoo, HotMail, other email providers and ISPs? It only takes the wrong attention one time to be in that position. Not only have you tainted your relationships with the provider that blocked you, but it could take days or weeks for them to unblock your organization. Do you really want to spend all that time on the phone begging for them to take you off the blacklist? They won’t remove you just because you’re begging and they aren’t open to hearing “I had no idea.”

This may seem extreme and you may feel this won’t happen to you because you paid a lot for that perfect list. Unfortunately, you are wrong. It may not happen the first time or fifth time, but you’re definitely treading in dangerous territory.


My “It Won’t Ever Happen to Me” Story

I was working with a well known national non-profit a couple of years ago. They decided to purchase a list against our recommendation and contract clause. They swore it was a carefully pulled together list based on interests that matched the organization’s cause. They uploaded 10,000 names into their database and hit send. Within 6 hours they were blacklisted by Google and Yahoo.  It took 3 days working with the email providers to be back to normal. You may not be as lucky and it may take longer. 




No one is safe from being “flagged”  when buying lists. When you purchase lists and send bulk emails, you’re drawing the wrong attention from service providers and email providers.



If I Can’t Buy Lists, How Do I Get More Contacts & Leads?

The answer is simple - you do it organically! Where & how do you market? What events do you host or attend? How effective is your website? Getting the interest and opt-in organically will come from Calls-to-Action on your homepage, landing pages, forms for whitepaper & webinars you are hosting, collecting contact information at tradeshows & events as well as through networking opportunities.

The best leads come from the ones you generated by people who actually GAVE you their information in the first place.


Other resources:

•    Lead Generation through Effective Calls-to-Action on your homepage (Topliners)

Don't Overlook or Downplay your Calls-to-Action


Your organization’s homepage is one of the most important marketing tools of your business. If you are reading this, I suspect that lead generation is an important part of your business as well. If so, Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are critical.


A homepage should do more than just offer basic information. It should compel a visitor to do something like oh I don’t know… take action! The last thing you want is to have every potential prospect abandon your page.


If your homepage is too complicated you won’t engage the visitor effectively.   If your CTAs are hidden or you have none, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to engage with them and build your database organically.


Your job as a marketer is to lead them to the information they need and what they are trying to find.


When designing or redesigning your homepage define your goals as an organization and as a marketer.  What is the purpose of your organization, what do you want them to do once they land on your homepage, and what should your homepage say about you?


What is your goal for visitors?


  •     Buy a product or service?
  •     Downloading a white paper or case study?
  •     Sign up for a newsletter?
  •     Attend webinars or events?
  •     Connect with the organization through social media outlets (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, RSS Feeds, etc.)?


Think of the possibilities and define your goals.  At the end of the day you want to turn your visitors into prospects and nurture them through the funnel.


Consider these best practices for your Calls-to-Action:

  •     They should pop off the page and contrast with the rest of the page.
  •     Placement above the fold. You have gone through the work of setting up your Call To Action so why bury it?
  •     Limit the click-throughs.  Get them to your form as soon as possible without bypassing important information.

Example: Suppose you have included your webinar “bling” on the homepage. The visitor clicks on the image and you drop them on a page with a list of webinars. They click again on the webinar of interest. You then direct them to a landing page with a description of the webinar and link them to “register now” page.  At this point, you have irritated your visitor. This is when abandonment rates soar.  Remember in click-throughs, “Less is More.”

  • As a general rule for your homepage design include whitespace. You want to keep your visitor focused. Keep in mind that most visitors won’t remember anything after 5 seconds. It may seem harsh, but it’s true.

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