Email Data: FAQ's and Misconceptions
Email data lists give you access to highly targeted email lists of the companies and individuals that you as an organisation cannot afford to miss out on.
Email data providers as an industry has grown substantially in the last decade with UK businesses now spending over £300m on email data each year. Email marketing has been rapidly replacing direct mail as the most popular form of direct marketing for obvious reasons: emails are instant, you can accurately track how many responses you get from your campaigns, it’s a lot easier to collect and gather email addresses than postal addresses, email marketing eliminates the need for printing, envelope stuffing and postage. In short, it’s a fantastic low-cost way of expanding your customer base, and having targeted email data is especially important for targeting potential customers.
But there are also disadvantages to email marketing and collecting email data has been seen as a controversial topic. The prevalence of spam on the internet means that users are wary of messages of unknown origin. Spam filters and general circumspection mean that most unsolicited emails remain unopened. In order to maximise the effectiveness of your email campaign it’s therefore essential that you find a reputable and authentic source of email data.
Here we attempt to answer the most frequent queries from first time purchasers of email data and address the most common misconceptions.
How is email data collected?
Reputable email data suppliers will gather their data from a variety of sources. With consumer data the email addresses will usually have been collected through people filling out online forms to enter competitions, subscribe to a service or mailing list, buy a product or make an enquiry. Consumer data must always be opt-in in order to comply with data protection laws. In other words, the consumer must have given express consent (usually by ticking a box) for third-parties to contact them with offers and they must not have opted-out since.
When using consumer email data you must be sure to explicitly tell the customer who you are as well as providing a contact address and a simple means by which they can opt-out of further emails.
Business data is collected from similar sources to consumer data as well as telemarketing campaigns. Email data for businesses and organisations does not have to be opt-in in order to comply with legislation, though you do still have to be explicit about who you are and provide your address when using it. While it is not strictly necessary from a legal standpoint, opt-in business data is usually of much better quality than ‘non opt-out’ data.
How can I be sure the data I’m buying is legit?
First you’ll want to check that your data supplier’s lists are compiled in accordance with The Direct Marketing Association’s Code of Practice. This is an industry standard that will ensure compliance with data protection laws.
You’ll also want to check how often the data is screened for people who have gone away, who are bereaved or who have opted-out since the data was collected. The best business data will be regularly checked by telephone to ensure that the contact data is up to date – there’s no use sending an email to John Smith about accounting services if John Smith no longer works in accounts.
How can email data be targeted?
Business data can be collated based on geographical area, business type, company size, job title of contact etc.
Consumer data criteria again include geographical area as well as gender, age, marital status, homeowner status, employment status, purchasing power, hobbies and interests. Due to the increasing sophistication of online data gathering consumer data can also be targeted on specific types of purchasing behaviour such as regular online shopping or taking holidays abroad.
What’s the difference between purchasing and renting email data?
Renting email data is usually the best option for a one-off campaign where you also use the company supplying the data to send out the emails. This way responsibility for the integrity of the data rests with the email marketing company. This is often the only option for consumer data as the email data companies want to preserve their control over these high value lists and minimise their liability for misuse.
If you’re planning to send out regular emails to the contacts on the list then it will probably work out cheaper in the long run to lease the data for a specified time period or purchase it outright. In this case you’ll assume responsibility for regularly checking the data and screening for opt-outs. The data provider or another email marketing company will offer to do this for you, for a fee, as part of their campaign management services.
What kind of response rates can I expect from email data?
That depends heavily on what you’re marketing and who you’re marketing to, the effectiveness of your email design and the appropriateness of the list you’re sending it to. As a rule of thumb though, you shouldn’t expect to get a response rate of higher than 1-3%, or in other words, 10-30 responses for every 1,000 emails you send out. It’s therefore important that you consider what each of those responses is worth to your business in order to estimate the cost-effectiveness of email marketing.
Common Misconceptions about Email Data
- You can get email data from all over the world.
While this is technically true, different countries have different laws with respect to data handling. This means that some data doesn’t make it across borders and that consequently, global data is harder to come by. If you’re looking to conduct email campaigns in territories outside the EU you may which to use email data suppliers based locally in order to ensure compliance with local laws and the biggest choice of data.
- I’ve seen websites which offer 1,000,000 email addresses for a couple of hundred pounds.
A typical price for quality data is 3p to 12p per contact. If you’re being offered a price substantially lower than this it may be because the data has been auto-generated by a computer program rather than gathered direct from consumers. This will mean a lot of the data is bogus and will certainly not comply with data protection requirements.
- I’m only looking for a couple of hundred email addresses – my campaign is highly targeted.
Most email data suppliers will have a minimum order amount of at least a couple of hundred pounds or a few thousand contacts. If you’re running a business campaign, would it be cheaper to gather the email addresses yourself – either by researching online or by calling the companies directly? If you’re running a campaign targeting consumers in a very small area, would it perhaps be cheaper to distribute leaflets door to door?