Table of contents
- Why you need marketing lists — the basics
- Who owns marketing lists?
- Types of data you can buy
- Marketing list quality
- How to report on your data list
- What to ask your marketing list provider
- Marketing list best practices
- How are marketing lists priced?
- How does GDPR affect buying data?
- What else can you do alongside buying a marketing lists?
Why you need marketing lists — the basics
Today, your business needs good b2b data to drive its marketing communications. Did you know it has the highest return on investment when it’s well-targeted, feeding a quality marketing campaign?
Most marketers will agree that it’s important to grow an organic mailing list of contacts for your database. It means your marketing communications will be targeted and, of course, well received. However, it takes time and patience to start from the ground, up.
When you’re a new business, or you want to grow your community in a shorter space of time, mailing lists are a smart method of boosting your organic activities.
A purchased marketing list — provided it’s high quality, fully cleansed and relevant to your content — is your kick-starter for a robust content strategy, from which to grow your list organically.
Your marketing list is for more than just email marketing but it’s worth considering that, according to HubSpot, 86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.
What’s more, click through rates are 47% higher for B2B email campaigns than B2Cemail campaigns, according to emfluence.
TIP: To boost your b2b data list with organic contacts, you should make it easy for people to join your marketing list. The most effective way to do this is to ensure it is available at all contact points; allow contacts to sign up from your website, social pages and blog.
Your marketing list, therefore, is your launch pad for driving traffic to your blog, website and other relevant sources.
Read our blog, ten things to check when buying marketing lists, to find out more.
So, when you’re buying marketing data, what information do you need?
Of course, this will depend on the goals of your campaign or overall strategy, but buying the right data can be used to boost your marketing efforts, ensuring that you reach more of the right people. Ask yourself, what are your key market segments? Which fields will deliver the most value?
Consider how the following would benefit your specific communications:
- Name and contact details:
Important for personalisation and ensuring content is delivered
- Profile: industry, company size, number of business locations:
More valuable to B2B campaigns and communications, this information will help you zero in on the specific prospects you think are most relevant to your offering.
- Interaction and action history:
It’s useful to know when/how often contacts interact with content, and when they’re more likely to take action, if this is available.
When you use a new source, start with a small sample, inspect the data and test it thoroughly. Many providers will be willing to offer this for free to open the door to a sale.
TIP: If possible, get a sense of quality by taking a look at the vendor’s data about you.
Where does marketing list data come from?
Have you ever wondered about the origin of the business data you buy?
In most cases, a data provider is not collecting the information on their own. They are often acquiring data from a variety of sources or individual clients and then compiling the insights to provide more relevant content.
Getting to the bottom of those data funnels is important. Where did it come from? Was it modeled or validated?
The three traditional main sources of data are much the same as they were previously. However, the reliability and completeness of these sources has changed in recent years:
- Companies House:
predominantly provides ‘Registered Address’ rather than trading addresses. This often means that the address provided for a business is that of a company’s Solicitor or Accountant rather than their trading address.
Many of the directories use the BT OSIS file to research and compile business data. Until recent years this was a comprehensive and exhaustive list of business details.
- Large Credit Reference agencies:
These organisations conduct research to provide more information on each business and its contacts.
Now, other sources often include:
May compile and sell their subscriber lists for different magazines. This is particularly useful when you are looking to target a business audience based on their specific interest.
- Data brokers or data mining companies:
Often performed by overseas companies with large sets of consumer or business data.
- Events and exhibitions:
Often these will sell their delegate (and exhibitor) lists for particular interests, job titles, business type and more, as they hold this information from registration details.
- Specialist data agencies:
These agencies have much lower volumes of data but focused in specialist areas or sectors such as Healthcare, Public Sector, IT, etc.
Want to know more about where marketing data comes from? Read our blog.
If you’re driving a more holistic data strategy, you should aim for a single customer view. But why?
Implementing a SCV gives the best possible understanding of your customers. This helps identify patterns and insights to inform your entire marketing strategy. But often companies have multiple data sources held in separate silos. This data could relate to different parts of the business or just be from multiple data sources that have never been linked.
A single customer view database management system (DBMS) allows users to perform multiple tasks with ease. You can extract, transform and load data, while some even have the ability to perform analytics and reporting. Above all, it manages a large amount of information within a single software application.
Find out more about the importance of a single source of truth in our blog: Single Customer View – The Complete Story
A single customer view is a database, which brings together all your customer, behavioural and transactional data into one central location. Read more about Data HQ’s single customer view services in our factsheet.
Who owns marketing lists?
Good data may cost a little bit more, but in reality that extra cost will bring you a greater return on investment than cheap data ever would, not to mention you can usually use it multiple times.
Once you have a clear understanding of what you need, look at the offerings around and create a wishlist of the best data list providers you can find.
Next, consider whether to rent or buy your marketing lists. Here’s some key differences:
This is the traditional way of acquiring marketing lists. Sometimes, you only get to use the emails once and only acquire contact information if the prospects engage with your communications. Depending on the provider, you may never see the list. Instead, you will send your communication to the list owner, and that owner distributes it.
The majority of rented lists are opt-in and most lists allow for a wide selection of criteria, enabling you to target prospects by job title, company size, etc.
In practice, however, it’s important to adhere to communication best practices to keep your audience engaged.
Read more about why purchasing email lists is a good idea
Most lists are made available for one-time contact only. Additional uses, including follow-ups, have to be agreed with the list owner.
Bought or licensed lists can be used repeatedly; some lists are made available for multiple usage and are provided under licence.
Almost all lists will include seed names, or dummy records addressed to the list owner or his agent. Unauthorised usage of lists will, therefore, be detected by the list owner – and will be subject to further charges.
Who owns the data in your marketing lists?
- List owners are the generators of lists, either specifically for rental or as a by-product of their main business.
- List managers take on the job of selling data lists on behalf of a list owner. They are remunerated by the list owner on a commission basis according to the number of names they sell.
- List brokers buy lists on behalf of clients, much like other media buyers. They can be a source of impartial advice on data lists as they receive similar commissions from all list owners.
- End users are the organisations using the list for marketing purposes. It is not uncommon for the end user to deal directly with the list manager or owner.
- The data bureaux manages the merge-purge process to de-duplicate lists before use and are usually appointed by the end user. It is not uncommon for end users to process their data in-house. This activity is sometimes undertaken by list Managers on behalf of the end users.
TIP: Purchasing marketing lists can only cause difficulty if you aren’t careful about the companies with whom you choose to work. However, there are a number of reputable businesses out there.
What about opt-outs?
As soon as someone objects to or opts out of your marketing, you should add them to a ‘do not contact’ list.
Screen all your marketing against this list to make sure you don’t contact anyone who has opted out. You can send an immediate reply confirming they have unsubscribed, but you must not contact them at a later date even if this is just to ask if they want to opt back in.
You must not simply delete their details altogether, as you need to ensure they are not later put back on your marketing list by mistake (for example if you buy more leads that include the same details).
TIP: If someone asks you to delete their details — as per the right to erasure in GDPR — you should explain that you will need to keep them on a ‘do not contact’ list to make sure you comply with their right to opt out.
Most lists will have ‘gone-aways’ — the level usually depends on how frequently the list is updated. A figure often quoted as good deliverability is 95%. Make sure that either a refund is offered on all legitimate gone-aways or replacement data.
Note that, some marketing list companies offer replacement lookalikes free of charge, to bring you back up to the original purchased volume. Sometimes data suppliers will oversupply by 10% for example, to pre-empt this.
Types of data you can buy
Market segmentation: dividing prospective consumer groups by attributes, needs or requirements, and their tendencies to generate a similar response to a particular marketing action.
Marketing list buying is normally divided between B2B and B2C sectors; there are different laws for each type of list. List brokers will usually offer both types of mailing list, although since the introduction of GDPR, the availability of compliant B2C data has been reduced.
Within these two segments, most suppliers break down vast databases into smaller divisions that fit your business. Selections are usually geographical, job title, company size (by annual sales or by number of employees) or by industry.
If your business has a wide target market, its advisable to break down your target market geographically. Start with companies local to you and work your way outwards.
TIP: Be realistic about the numbers of prospects likely to fall into the parameters you have set. Two-thirds of UK companies are based in London and the South East. London alone has the largest number of businesses, representing 18.9% of the UK total.
By breaking down your data sets by industry, you can show your prospects that you understand their sector by referring to the specific problems they face.
TIP: Some mailing list companies use SIC (standard industry classification) codes. This is a system of numbers categorising industry sectors and is run by the Office for National Statistics.
Think about which department in a company is most likely to buy your service and write directly to them. If you are not sure who buys in your product, look at the job titles of your current clients.
TIP: Many companies may not have the job title you are looking for. Ask the marketing list provider to select similar titles, or where there are none a relevant backup, such as HR director. Also, consider both the decision makers and the influencers in your campaign when targeting large organisations with long buying cycles.
Company size can be by annual sales (turnover) or by number of employees. Choose one, whichever is more relevant to your campaign. If your communications are to do with anything that impacts employees, use the size by employees numbers.
TIP: Some companies will not publish their UK annual sales figures exclusively, they may bundle them into a Europe-wide or worldwide figure.
Ultimately, segmentation adds to your ability to cater to the diverse needs of your market, where various sections of prospects may have different interests, needs, and perceptions of different products and services.
With more granular insight into the perceptions and preferences of your target clients, you can offer your goods and services as personalised and valuable entities.
At Data HQ, you can define your target audience by using any combination of the following selection criteria:
- 2200 unique industry sectors
- Major industry sector
- Sub Industry Sector
- Company size by employees
- Company size by turnover (modelled and actual)
- Head office, single site and branch locations
- Year established
- Geographic - by drive time, radius, territory, region, county, town and postcode
- Mobile numbers or landline numbers
- Website address
- Number of sites a company has
- Job Title & Responsibility
- Email address availability
Read more about Data HQ’s business mailing list, with 2200 unique industry sectors compiled by company size, geography and contact details in our comprehensive fact sheet.
Marketing list quality
Unfortunately, some data providers act unlawfully or unethically. They may provide information that has been gained via questionable methods and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
As a result, you could end up sending spam rather than valuable content, make unwanted cold calls instead of calls that are well-received by the right people, or post untargeted mail that has no relevance.
TIP: A high-quality marketing data supplier will usually offer a free sample. If they do not offer, or refuse to give a sample, it is probably best to try elsewhere.
So, you need to be confident that the mailing list you are purchasing is compliant; this is your responsibility, so be mindful of this when selecting your mailing list.
The laws and regulations around data collection and storage include:
- Data must be fairly and lawfully processed
- Specific and informed consent must be held for B2C marketing via email and SMS
- For B2B marketing, select the most appropriate lawful reason for processing and to ensure you are compliant in doing so, most commonly with Legitimate Interest
- Data must be accurate and up-to-date
- Organisations must be able to demonstrate that they have valid Legal Basis
- Data must be processed in line with the data subject’s rights
- If a consumer asks you for the source of their data, you are obliged to let them know
To maintain the quality of their mailing lists, data providers should have a robust data verification process in place. The verification process could be manual or automatic, but the outcome should be the same: high quality, accurate data on real prospects.
TIP: Check the deliverability rates on offer. Data suppliers often claim “exceptional” deliverability rates. Check exactly what percentage they claim to provide and compare to your own results.
“A reputable list broker should be able to demonstrate that the marketing list for sale or rental is reliable by explaining how it was compiled and providing full details of what individuals consented to (where appropriate), when and how. If the seller cannot provide this information, a buyer should not use the list.”DMA Data Guide
So, what can go wrong when buying poor quality marketing lists?
Not all data is the same, nor are all data providers the same. Whether you need postal addresses, phone numbers, email addresses - or a combination of the three - it's vital to purchase high-quality information from a verified and trustworthy provider.
Firstly, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you see an offer, promising 100,000 email addresses for £199, don’t be tempted. You might be buying email addresses that could have been scraped over many years, so could feature incomplete, inaccurate or generic email addresses with a high bounce rate. This poor quality will severely damage the success of your campaign and potentially your IP reputation.
Don’t forget, data moves incredibly fast. Every year in the UK the data landscape goes through dramatic changes which can result in up to 40% data decay. Unless you can trace the data back to its source – how do you know if it was legitimately gathered for the purpose(s) you wish to use it?
Consider how many times you have changed your interests, moved house, job, office or industry in 10 years.
If you’re sending an email campaign with poor quality data, you are likely to be identified as a spammer, your company’s server’s IP address may be added to a blacklist like SpamHaus, potentially affecting email deliverability company-wide.
Continued bad practices over time will significantly damage your sending domain reputation. This may start with less HTML emails landing and contacts receiving the plain text versions. In more extreme cases, one to one emails to clients or prospects may land in junk or spam folders.
Did you know, at Data HQ, we only work with Tier 1 providers? Read more about good and bad data in our blog.
Ensuring your buying clean data, meanwhile, will keep your campaign costs down and improve your ROI.
You can also clean your in-house data by:
- Undertaking some in-house management and cleansing
- Ensuring consistent formatting for data entry
- Making clear the importance of precise and accurate data entry to any staff entering the information
- Combining and de-duping files based on email address or another unique reference within the files
It is impossible to predict response rates accurately on any list as it is very much dependent on various factors. You will not receive guarantees of response from list suppliers, although they will be able to tell you in broad terms if the list has worked for similar offers in the past.
Some list owners offer guarantees on deliverability and quality of addressing.
With good quality data, you should be aiming for results that are in line with industry averages.
Based on cold data, stats are usually around:
- Open rate: 9.87%
- Click-to-open rate: 3.6%
- Hard bounce: 1.4%
Please note however, when using existing leads and customer data, averages may be higher.
These elements are all subject to many variables, such as personalisation, enticing subject lines and content. The industry, effective decision maker target and offer will also cause a huge disparity in campaign results.
A very important metric to measure, particularly when using purchased dat is bounce rate.
Soft bounces are a temporary problem with a valid email address, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server.
Hard bounces are invalid, closed, or non-existent addresses, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. Having too many hard bounces can make your company look like a spammer in the eyes of an ISP.
If the reputation of your sending domain is low, you may experience hard bounces to good emails, in which your campaigns are simply blocked.
TIP: A Chartered Institute of Marketing report found that over 80% of marketers said their companies share data across departments without permission. If you intend to share data within your business group, you must have specific consent.
"Companies have a responsibility to ensure that they fulfil their data protection responsibilities and they should be penalised if they fail to do this."
Open Rights Group
You might receive a complaint from a contact when using third-party data. Consider the type of complaint before taking action.
- Unsubscribe requests
You should acknowledge this request within a reasonable period of time.
No further communication should go to these contacts, unless you have a legal or contractual obligation to do so, which may not even be appropriate in some cases. The opt-out process should be automated within your delivery system to ensure they cannot be sent to once they have exercised this option.
- Repeat complaints
If you receive a complaint from a consumer who has already unsubscribed from your communications before, it indicates that you might not have run your in-house ‘do not contact’ suppression file against your bought list.
In this case, you must suppress their data from your own database and inform the list owner to do the same.
- Subject Access Requests
If a contact wants to know what information you hold on them, they can make a Subject Access Request under Section 7 of the DPA.
You must fulfil the request within a maximum of 30 days from the date of receipt of the written request.
UK Law does not insist on opt-in lists for business-to-business emails. The Privacy & Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 states that if you are emailing consumers, the list must be an opt-in list. There is greater flexibility for emailing businesses; you are allowed to email any business email address at least once providing the email is about business matters and that you give an option to unsubscribe, or a soft opt-in. Under GDPR, a legitimate interest assessment should also be completed.
If your data subject unsubscribes, you must not email them again.
Worried about the quality of the data you’ve purchased? Read our blog, the warning signs that data is too cheap.
How to report on your data list
To ensure you’re getting a good return on investment with your marketing data, you should have a robust reporting and metrics strategy.
Understanding your marketing lists by title, industry, company size and geography enables you to design effective marketing programmes and identify untapped opportunities. Take a larger view of your data and think about branching out by industry, corporate family tree or department.
It is essential to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing lists and campaigns to understand how your campaign has delivered against your objectives and each Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
The knowledge gained from effective campaign reporting allows you to make positive changes to your communication strategy. But what should you report on, and why
Be selective on what you measure
A vast amount of information will be available to you through analytics attached to all sorts of applications – but most of these will not be useful enough to your specific needs to make them worth investing time or resource into. Make sure that you concentrate on the particular metrics – or combinations of metrics – that you know how to make meaningful use of.
Next, align these metrics to specific goals
Choosing the wrong metrics can cloud rather than inform your understanding of how a campaign is performing – and be a costly and potentially irretrievable error to discover after your campaign has launched.
Measure for brand equity
Do not judge your campaign based purely on clicks, likes or followers, for example. Do contacts go on to engage with you beyond your marketing? Do they come back more than once? Do they advocate you to others?
Identify different KPIs
It is likely that various departments or functions within your organisation will need different analytics to inform their strategic planning. Identify simple, suitable KPIs for each of your core needs – for example:
- Specific campaign performance
- Overall performance trends
- High performance segments for further targeting
- Website performance
- Brand reputation
- Market share
- Customer service
- Product competitiveness
- Competitor analysis
When selecting a b2b marketing data provider, they should introduce you to specialist software to enable you to run regular reports and on-demand insights into your data. They should then continue to support you to:
- Manage all data updates
- Monitor and report on KPIs and patterns
- Identify relevant insights and where improvements can be made
- Spot how different segments are performing
- Identify growth opportunities
- Report on campaign effectiveness
The knowledge gained from effective campaign reporting allows you to make positive changes to your communication strategy. Find out more about what Data HQ provides in its campaign reporting service.
TIP: Want to check you got what you paid for? Produce a de-dupe report
In order to prove usage under an agreement of net names, or an oversupply agreement, you will need to produce a report showing how much data has been lost during the merge-purge de-duplication process.
The typical timeframe for producing such a report is three months of supply, although you need to check the terms of your specific data order with your supplier.
If you miss the deadline then you are unlikely to be able to claim your credit – unless you have prior agreement with the data supplier. Before entering into a rental agreement, check the terms so that you understand what your obligations are – they will often vary from supplier to supplier.
You don’t have to be a specialist in campaign management or data analysis, you just need to work with a data-marketing partner who is. Read more about becoming a big data expert at your business in our blog.
What to ask your marketing list provider
As your choice of partner will be key to the effectiveness of your goals, the selection will be crucial. Be prepared to test and question any data supplier to safeguard yourself against poor and inaccurate data lists.
When making a short list, consider asking around to see who has had success working with the particular data provider you are working with.
TIP: Does your primary choice have proven results to show? Whom have they worked with in the past? Are there any comparable brands or organizations like yours in their portfolio?
Here’s some questions to ask your potential marketing list providers:
- How is their list researched?
- How often is the list updated?
- How is it updated?
- Where do they find the information?
- How is it verified?
To maintain the quality of their databases, data providers should have a robust data verification process in place. The verification process could be manual or automatic, but the outcome should be the same: high quality, accurate data on real prospects.
What answers should you expect?
- How often is your data updated?
B2B data decays incredibly fast, from the moment it is collected. B2B data decays at a churn rate of 35%-40% a year. If your marketing list provider doesn’t regularly maintain and clean their lists, you will end up with low response rates and your campaigns will be less cost-effective. On a universe file, data will be updated at least once per year. A niche business list, meanwhile, is updated by phone three or four times a year. Keeping lists of consumers updated depends on the source of the list. Often data providers will either have a call center element, sister business or trusted partner/s to do this. Ask them for a full and detailed explanation.
- How is your data sourced?
It is essential that you know exactly where the data you are purchasing is coming from. A good data provider should be able to tell you how they collect their data, and their sources should stand up to scrutiny. If they can’t provide the information you require, under no circumstances should you do business with them.
- Are you registered under the Data Protection Act?
All data providers in the UK are obligated to register with the ICO and to collect data both fairly and lawfully. As an independent authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office works in the public interest to protect data privacy and to uphold information rights in the UK.
- Do you have any other industry accreditations
Another way to identify a quality marketing list is to ensure the organisation selling it has the appropriate industry accreditations for supplying marketing data. Are they a member of the DMA? The Direct Marketing Association sets the standard for agencies, list brokers, mailing houses and companies. They drive the values, policies and practices for direct marketing.
- You know who owns the data and how contacts have given their consent, if relevant. Ask to see the opt-in statements.
- You’re in control of the data selections being used. You want to avoid any negative feedback and association at all cost, so targeting and selections are as crucial as the message you are sending.
- You monitor responses from third-party data separately to your existing database so that you can measure its effectiveness.
For more information on what to ask your prospective data provider, read our blog — 10 things to check when buying marketing lists.
Marketing list best practices
Inadequate care or inappropriate handling of data can have a significant impact on brand perception.
With email marketing specifically, hard bounces, soft bounces and unengaged subscribers (also knowns as grey mail) can have a negative impact on deliverability, plus they negatively affect the your email marketing KPIs.
Whether you have invested money in purchasing a well-targeted mailing list or invested a lot of time building your own list, you will want to protect your valuable data, so make sure you adhere to marketing list best practices. Ensure to:
- Check everyone in your organisation understands their responsibilities in the transfer and storage of data.
- Classify data so that everyone in the process can recognise its importance and sensitivity.
- Distinguish between different data sources, mailing lists, customers/prospects and maintain strict naming convention.
- Send data securely via electronic methods, where possible, and ensure it is encrypted for security, whatever method is used for despatch.
- Send passwords separately.
- Be aware of dummy addresses, spam traps or ‘seeds’ that monitors subsequent use and can quickly identify and stop any misuse.
- Ensure documentation is sent with all data, including file layouts and volumes.
- Receive proof of delivery of your data.
- Check data files against your sender’s documentation to validate the contents, in a timely manner.
- Store data in a secure environment, ensuring adequate backups and archiving takes place.
- Keep your lists engaged with interesting and relevant content.
TIP: If you lists go cold, verify with your provider or through email list verification tools to avoid high bounce rates.
Ensure you have consent on the appropriate Legal Basis
it is important to make sure any data purchased has come from a legitimate mailing list provider or your own opted-in system. Having responsibly-sourced data is crucial to the performance of your campaigns.
You can rely on Legitimate Interest for marketing activities if you can show the way you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object to what you are doing.
TIP: You must give your recipients clear and fair opportunities to unsubscribe from your emails or mailers. Recipients will expect to be able to easily locate the unsubscribe instructions or link – normally in the footer of your piece.
For subscribed contacts on your list, permission can go stale if you don't actively engage with them. If you have subscribers you haven’t engaged with regularly, we recommend you email to reconfirm their subscription. This will help reduce grey mail, bounced emails and abuse complaints.
When requesting consent, your method of obtaining it should:
- Be displayed clearly and prominently
- Ask individuals to positively opt-in, in line with good practice
- Give them sufficient information to make a choice.
For B2C data, if your consent mechanism consists solely of an “I agree” box with no supporting information then users are unlikely to be fully informed and the consent cannot be considered valid.
Good practice would be to list the different purposes with separate unticked opt-in boxes for each or Yes/No buttons of equal size and prominence. Opt-in boxes can be prominently placed in your privacy notice.
According to DMA’s Data guide, data list client responsibilities include:
- Supplying a schedule of all files to be used in advance.
- Providing notification of media to be used, including uncommon formats.
- Ensuring all use of data complies with the DPA and is held, disclosed and processed lawfully – with a data processing agreement in place. See the Data processing agreements section for further information.
- Providing full documentation for each file – covering project reference, file layout, supplier contact details, sample print, number of records and return instructions.
- Supplying test files when requested by your marketing list supplier.
- Meet all delivery schedules as agreed.
- Ensure reasonable steps are taken to ensure that files are supplied free of viruses.
- Ensure that your supplier has a proven and robust disaster recovery plan in place – sufficient to protect your data and your project. Give consideration to the nature and value of your project being undertaken
TIP: Data should be screened to ensure it is reliable, and valid for testing. Data screening should be carried out prior to any statistical procedure.
- Who you are
- What you are going to do with their information
- Who it will be shared with
- Explain their data subject rights
- Give them multiple contact options to exercise these rights
- Explain the security measures in place to safeguard their privacy
If you are processing information for a range of purposes, you should:
- Explain the different ways you will use their information
- Provide a clear and simple way for them to indicate they agree to different types of processing
Store data securely
You must take appropriate technical and organisational measures to guard against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data:
- Ensure no prospect data is left lying around or discarded in waste bins where it could ultimately end up in the wrong hands or in the public domain.
Handle data in a controlled environment, make sure that computer screens displaying personal data are not visible to unauthorised personnel.
- Define staff responsibilities. Inform your staff that unauthorised use or disclosure of your marketing lists is a serious disciplinary matter.
- Have staff sign data processing agreements, keep records of data processing actions to show that procedures have been followed, in case of audit.
- Check third-party access; If your customer’s information is stored externally or accessed by third parties, you have an obligation to understand what policies and practices the third party has in place and make sure they match up to your own.
TIP: Even well-maintained databases typically see at least a 20% annual churn; so plan for the likelihood that you will lose 1 in 5 prospects out of your house list. If you don’t manage your database with attrition in mind, you will lose ground year-on-year.
Remember the right to erasure, or to be forgotten
Someone who wishes to be removed from a marketing list is able to make a request to the business and the personal information should, indeed, be removed.
TIP: An organisation has the right to keep the email address alone, in order to ensure contacts never accidentally return to a marketing list through purchase.
A data subject’s details may remain on a data provider’s marketing list, however, and be sold on as many times as they match a targeted marketing demographic.
If a data subject changes their name, address or other significant detail, they may appear to be a different contact from the person previously exercising their ‘Right to be Forgotten’ and may accidentally be included in a new marketing campaign as a result.
Ensure that your ‘request for removal’ processes takes into account linked information, so the removal job can be done thoroughly.
Complete the ICO’s checklist, preparing for requests for erasure:
- Know how to recognise a request for erasure and understand when the right applies.
- Have a policy for how to record requests you receive verbally.
- Understand when you can refuse a request and be aware of the information to provide to individuals when you do so.
- Have processes in place to ensure that you respond to a request for erasure without undue delay and within one month of receipt.
- Be aware of the circumstances when you can extend the time limit to respond to a request.
- Understand that there is a particular emphasis on the right to erasure if the request relates to data collected from children.
- Have procedures in place to inform any recipients if you erase any data you have shared with them.
- Have appropriate methods in place to erase information.
Want to know more about marketing lists best practices? Find out if you are damaging your mailing list with these 7 key mistakes.
How are marketing lists priced?
For a quality marketing list, data purchasing should not be price-led. For most businesses, however, budget is still a consideration. Have a clear objective and measure your success against this – or use a simple return on investment model. If data is suspiciously cheap, it usually means it is poor quality.
In most marketing list cases, pricing will be based on CPMs, or the cost per thousand contacts.
Bear in mind, however, that each data segment is priced differently. Prices can vary significantly from supplier to supplier.
Prices vary significantly depending on the type of data you are purchasing, but a licence can often be a more cost-effective option, giving you access to files for multiple use.
Large lists are typically priced per thousand. In addition to the base price, some suppliers may add further charges for each selection and occasionally for the output format you require.
Some data list providers may look at additional variables such as the difficulty of sourcing accurate, (opt-in if necessary) data for certain campaigns, or the value a lead might represent to the buyer of the list.
TIP: Remember there will usually be a minimum order quantity and production price to consider.
Pricing may be based on any of the below:
- Base price
Cost is usually priced per thousand, but smaller lists may have a one-off price.
- Selection and format
It may cost you extra to choose different selections and for the output you need.
It can cost you extra for data delivery, but this is less common.
- Minimum order
There is almost always a minimum order cost to build into your total budget.
- Buying on license
Very large data purchases can be made on licence, giving you access to files for multiple use. Prices vary significantly depending on the type of data you are purchasing, but a licence can often be a more cost-effective option if you’re conducting a number of large campaigns.
- Cost per response
Some marketing list suppliers will offer a ‘cost per response’ agreements, enabling you to share the risk of a campaign with a data supplier.
Data suppliers usually offer free of charge de-duplication to ensure you don't license records you already own.
- Lead generation
This is a direct way of paying for business generated through your marketing list supplier, usually charged at a cost per lead basis. The cost will vary significantly depending on the industry and type of lead data.
The cost to buy a mailing list is typically based upon the cost per thousand records (CPM), although you can also evaluate it on a cost per name basis.
- For a consumer mailing list, expect a CPM cost of around £50 to £200
- For business mailing lists, the CPM is around £150 to £350
- The total cost for an order with around 5,000 names (including obtaining a list, designing marketing materials, postage/mailing, and fulfillment) is approximately £2,500 to £5,000 depending on requirements.
Negotiating a marketing list purchase
There will often be various marketing list purchase models available. Once you’ve understood the options, you will often be able to negotiate the most appropriate for your business or your campaign.
Also, consider the number of times you are likely to use the marketing list within the period.
If you are only going to contact the customers twice, for example, then it may be wise to negotiate a fixed cost per thousand for the first contact and then a reduced rate for a follow-up.
Why not ask for a datacard?
For more transparency over your potential data list provider, you can ask for a datacard.
Apart from the general information about the origin of the list, which may be in brochures, on the company website or other advertising literature, a datacard will give you more information about the lists you are considering renting, including pricing.
The datacard is similar to an advertising rate card. It will normally contain some or all of the following information:
- Source/profile of the list
- Number of names available
- Number of names available broken down by key selections
- Production formats
- Update method and frequency for the list
- Price per name or per thousand names
- Price per selection
- Minimum order quantity or price
- Type of selections available
- Delivery time
- Address formats/postcoding/email/telephone numbers/mailsort
- When the datacard was last updated
- Whether or not the list has been cleaned against the appropriate preference service suppression file
- Governance on use – how data has been collected and how it can be used
It may be possible for you to work out a matrix for volume discounts, in advance of buying a marketing data list, to act as a guideline for negotiations.
This is an example, but is not necessarily indicative of cost that may be applied.
|0 - 20,000||0%|
|20,001 - 40,000||10%|
|40,001 - 60,000||15%|
|60,001 - 80,000||20%|
|80,001 - 100,000||25%|
|100,001 - 120,000||30%|
|120,001 - 150,000||40%|
|150,000 - 200,000||50%|
TIP: Some list owners may offer a reduced rate for a pre-mailer followed by the full rate for your actual campaign. Additionally, some list owners could also offer a price incentive for a post-mailer.
In conclusion, when negotiating your marketing list price, consider:
- Duration of the agreement
- Number of times data can be used within the period
- Permitted purposes and media channels the data can be used for
Whether the data can to be overlaid with other variables – either from the same list owner or another source
- Data cleaning – whether suppression files or a total refresh of the data can be supplied
When selecting a marketing list provider there are various considerations that you need to explore. Read our guide to B2B data selection to make sure you’ve considered everything, including budget and goals.
How does GDPR affect buying data?
In May 2018, GDPR came into force for EU nations and applies to anyone using EU citizen data.
The GDPR requires that personal data must be processed lawfully — which means that one of a selection of lawful bases for processing must be established — before that processing can take place.
TIP: Consent is one lawful basis for processing, but there are alternatives. In particular, you may have legitimate interest to contact your marketing list for your B2B campaigns.
“The key consideration as marketers is to make sure our email marketing practice complies with the GDPR. The GDPR will affect your marketing efforts in some way whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer.”
Kingpin, What does the GDPR mean for marketers?
If you market to contacts in a way that is non-compliant, you could face a fine. The GDPR contains a number of areas where penalties can be applied, in some cases up to €20 million or four percent of your global annual turnover, whichever is the greater.
So, what questions should you be asking about your third-party marketing data use, in order to ensure it continues to be a valid asset now that GDPR is applied to European law, and to ensure you retain consumer trust?
1. Can I still market to my existing lists and databases?
In short, it depends. You should review your own compliance or seek legal advice.
For B2C, for example, if you previously had bundled consent, a vague or soft opt-in, or assumed or implied consent, it may now need to be granular and specific.
For B2B marketing campaigns, there can be opt-out legislation rather than the opt-in path the GDPR takes us down for B2C marketing.
B2B marketing is fine to a corporate business eg. limited company, public limited company, limited liability partnership or government department. It is also fine to email contacts and generic emails such as info@ etc. There are, however, simply stricter balancing tests such as the legitimate interest assessment, and improved privacy policies to reflect consumer rights.
When emailing a corporate, you must:
- Give them the option to easily unsubscribe from receiving further communications
- Ensure the product or service being promoted can be purchased in a professional capacity
- Identify the sender and provide contact details
2. Can I still buy marketing lists?
Yes, you can continue to buy or rent marketing lists now that GDPR has come into force. The data market, however, may be slightly different.
New data lists will be much smaller and higher value. Also, as a buyer you must make sure you know the data you’re buying meets an appropriate Legal Basis required for the type of marketing, particularly if you’re marketing to B2C contacts.
Make sure you buy from reputable sources and insist on receiving the provable audit trail and carry out the necessary due diligence, too.
3. Can I still email a B2B marketing list?
Yes. There’s no need for consent when emailing business contacts and corporate business, in most cases. Email marketing is currently governed by PECR. In a B2B environment, there is an exemption under PECR for employees of Corporate Subscribers, and you can use legitimate interests to send a marketing email to these individuals without their prior consent. Sole Traders and Non-Incorporated Partnerships would require the same level of consent as a consumer.
4. When can I use ‘legitimate interest’ for contacting a marketing list?
You can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show the way you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object to what you are doing.
As a balancing test between your interests as a business and the those of your data subjects, undertake a balancing test, or a legitimate interest assessment, to show your decision is considered. You need to demonstrate you have a need, a reason and steps have been taken to protect and minimise your subjects privacy.
In B2B marketing, it is typically much easier to use this lawful method. You are typically not targeting vulnerable people, children, or collecting any highly-sensitive information such as religious preferences or medical information.
TIP: Sole traders and some partnerships are treated as individuals so you can only contact them if they have specifically consented, or if they bought a similar product from you in the past and didn’t opt out from marketing messages when you gave them that chance. You must include an opt-out or unsubscribe option in the message.
If you’re working with a high-quality B2B marketing list provider, in many cases your marketing list contacts will be communicated with on lawful basis under legitimate interest:
- The data subjects are business contacts (names, telephone numbers and email addresses)
- The processing is of business contact details, and there is a demonstrable low impact on the privacy of the individual
- Email direct marketing is a reasonable and proportionate method of processing to achieve commercial objectives
- The data subjects in question might reasonably expect to receive business marketing to their corporate email addresses
- As such, the processing is transparent and fair
5. Do I need consent for a live B2B telephone campaign?
You can use legitimate interests for telephone marketing, but you must screen telephone numbers against the Telephone Preference Service and Corporate Telephone Preference Service registers every 28 days.
This is the general ‘do not call register’, which is set up by the DMA. If they are not registered you can call them and if they elect to not be called again by your company you must add them to your own internal do not call list.
NOTE: You must not make an automated marketing call — a call made by an automated calling system that plays a recorded message — unless the business has specifically consented to receive this type of call. General consent for marketing, or even consent for live calls, is not enough. It must specifically cover automated calls.
6. What should I be doing to make sure I am compliant?
- Determine if and how you will be affected by GDPR. If you are sending emails to anybody in the EU you will affected by the GDPR. Your location doesn’t matter.
- Make sure you understand the penalties.
- Establish which controls you will need. Chat with your email providers to understand what they have in place.
- If you’re B2C, get the specifics of your opt-in statement right. Be clear and unambiguous. Get as much of your data as possible to opt-in to your future communications as soon as you have the above all set up. If you host events ask attendees to opt for the slides, have a pop-up on your website and run double opt-in campaigns.
- Check that your privacy and cookie consent policies are transparent. Make sure they cover all bases for compliance.
- Ensure it includes plain, easy-to-read language, cutting out excessive legal jargon. Perhaps consider a layered approach to reduce information overload.
Want to make sure your marketing efforts are fully GDPR compliant? Read our GDPR client survival guide to ensure you’re fully prepared.
What else can you do alongside buying a marketing lists?
As we mentioned at the beginning, it’s generally agreed in the marketing world that it’s important to grow an organic mailing list of contacts for your database. These efforts can be introduced alongside buying a high-quality marketing list.
Working with a high-quality marketing list provider is far lower risk than buying cheap, inaccurate data. If you want to explore other ways to grow your in-house database, here’s some alternatives:
Sponsored or co-branded content
Find a publication that has an audience that matches the demographic you are trying to reach, then offer valuable sponsored or co-branded content to reach those people.
TIP: Always ensure that you are using a reputable publication or business whose subscribers have opted in to sponsored content.
Run SEA campaigns like Google Adwords
Performing keyword analysis on your target demographic and funding a PPC campaign could be a great alternative or supplement to buying a marketing list.
Depending on the keywords you select, this could be a fairly cost-effective solution for you, optionally allowing it to be an 'always on' campaign for the year.
Try social advertising
There are differences between each platform, but each allows you to create advertising creative and select the audience you want to reach via normal demographic data and, in the instance of LinkedIn, by job title, company and industry.
NOTE: For social advertising, research is required into the habits and preferences of those you want to reach and the content you have in mind.
Build a strong content strategy
Building an in-house database and leads is all about offering value. Offer something of genuine value to your prospects, something relevant to their needs. Something to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise such as an ebook, white paper, report or survey results. This can be gated to generate leads.
Also, writing longer blog posts and high-value free content that is targeted and relevant to your audience will drive traffic to your website organically.
Optimise your sign up forms
Whether it’s a signup form on your blog to subscribe to new posts, or a form on one of your product pages to subscribe to product updates, forms should be prevalent throughout your site.
Potential subscribers should never have to search for a way to subscribe.
Host a webinar or digital event
Hosting a virtual event enables you to reach new audiences—and collect new email signups.
Requiring registration for the event, even if it’s free, is a great way to build your list.
Overall, marketing lists can be a powerful tool for marketers, whether you’re growing an organic database simultaneously, or not. If you’re contacting a marketing list for the first time, use a program built for outside contact with new recipients. Email platforms, meanwhile, that help you track your metrics like open rate, clicks, opt-ins, unsubscribes and more to see how your marketing data list is responding to your efforts.