Recently, I was working on a market feasibility assessment and I needed to access a group of individuals where there was no easy way to identify and contact them on a mass scale. We decided that the best course of action was to purchase an email list through a B2B business listing company. While many reputable companies sell targeted business calling lists for Canadian companies based on industry codes, size etc., email lists are entirely different. There are very few companies that either own or broker email lists in Canada, and, unlike many calling lists, you typically don't actually get the emails (or even get to see them) but rather need to interact with your target market through the list owner/broker.
Additionally, while many purchased lists can be used as often as you like, emails lists are usually a one-time purchase - so if you need multiple touch points expect that each email will be a totally separate purchase.
Here are some tips to make the experience more successful:
1. Focusing the list to hit your target market can sometimes be challenging since the type of person type of company may be difficult to target. One way of getting around this issue is to target based on other criteria that will triangulate the list to meet what you need. Revenue, size of company, location and industry codes for example can all be used depending on what your vendor captures in their lists.
2. You need to realize that you are outsourcing a great deal of quality control to a vendor. Not only are you not getting to see the email addresses but you are trusting another company to deal with a whole list of technical specifications (e.g. ensuring that each recipient has the correct individual survey link). Even after the campaign is over, you are relying on the vendor for reporting and there is no way to verify the information. In order to minimize risk, it is important to be extremely clear with the provider about exactly what you are looking for and ask for potential options to be presented with great clarity. Make sure you understand how your provider’s database works and ask questions if not everything is 100% clear.
3. Email open and click-through rates are notoriously low (less than 20% and 2% respectively). While these stats are for email marketing and not for survey research where an incentive can be provided, be prepared and have a plan in place to increase your response rate through other means.
4. If you are trying to survey your target market about a topic that is non-core to their business (e.g. asking a transportation company about their photocopier) their interest may be much lower than expected even if you are offering an attractive incentive. As in number 3, it is important to have a plan in place to increase response rates through other means but also to be prepared to send the email blasts out a number of times.
What have you done to make email lists for market research work for you?
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