Using a List Broker to Build Your E-Mail Marketing Contacts List - dummies

Using a List Broker to Build Your E-Mail Marketing Contacts List

By John Arnold

A list broker is a marketing company that collects and sells contact information for e-mail marketing purposes. If you decide to build a list with the help of a list broker, be aware of the significant differences between obtaining a list of physical addresses and/or phone numbers and obtaining e-mail addresses.

Typically, a list broker allows you to purchase a small list based on matching data in a larger list to your specifications. If you want to use a reputable list broker to obtain e-mail addresses, the process isn’t quite so simple, mainly because the e-mail addresses on a brokered list must, by law, be permission based.

Obtaining e-mail addresses from any list broker is full of potential pitfalls. If the broker you choose doesn’t understand or adhere to permission laws and trends in the consumer landscape, sending e-mail to the people on the list can land you on a blacklist, which damages your image and your ability to send e-mail. Note that most EMPs discourage or disallow rented lists and almost never allow purchased lists.

Buying a confirmed-permission e-mail contact list

Confirmed-permission lists are the only viable option for sending e-mails through list brokers. These lists can be quite expensive because they’re hard to obtain and contain e-mail addresses belonging to people who (at least for the moment) are interested in receiving specific types of information. You can expect to pay between 10 and 30 cents per e-mail address to send a single e-mail to a confirmed-permission list.

Beware of supposed confirmed-permission lists for sale as a data file. Quality confirmed-permission lists are too valuable to sell and are always rented out.

Confirmed-permission lists vary in quality, so remember to ask any broker some tough questions about the process used to obtain permission:

  • Where and how the e-mail addresses were obtained: Make sure that any online forms used to obtain the e-mail addresses asked for explicit permission to share the e-mail address as opposed to stating usage in a separate permission policy. If permission was given by selecting a check box, make sure that the subscriber had to select the check box to subscribe as opposed to leaving a pre-selected box as-is.

  • When permission was confirmed: List subscribers might not remember opting in if permission was confirmed at the onset of the subscription and time has passed between the initial confirmation and the e-mail you intend to send. Ask the list broker to provide the opt-in date with any sample list or count.

  • How interests are selected: Some list brokers make assumptions about their subscribers’ interests based on where the information is collected as opposed to brokers who actually ask subscribers to select or state their interests. Make sure that interest information was supplied by the subscriber before paying an additional fee for an interest-based list.

The acid test of quality for a confirmed-permission list is whether the subscribers remember opting in and expect an e-mail from you as a result.

Renting an e-mail marketing contact list

Renting a list means that the list broker never gives you the e-mail addresses used to send your e-mail. Instead, you supply content to the list broker, and the list broker formats and sends your e-mail to the list.

Because list rental buys only one sending opportunity, be sure to include a sign-up link in your brokered e-mail. You can then add to your own list potential customers who are interested in your goods but aren’t ready to buy the moment they receive your brokered e-mail. If the list broker doesn’t allow a subscription link in the e-mail, make sure that any links in your brokered e-mail lead to a landing page that includes your sign-up box, button, or link.

If you can capture sales and information by using a rented list, make sure that your e-mails continue to meet or exceed all possible professional standards to help keep subscribers interested and happy to be on the list after they’ve confirmed.