Why Purchasing Lead Lists for Your Channel Is a Dangerous Idea

channel strategy

Buying a generic list of leads can seem like a great idea. After all, most if not all, of the heavy lifting is done already, and you just need to make sure that the leads are contacted and see the value of your product.

It sounds easy, right? The problem with this is you spend hours calling and emailing through thousands of records with the hope someone wants to have a conversation with you. Doesn’t make much sense from a ROI of your time perspective, does it? I came from a world where I encouraged companies to purchase data to “fill the top of the funnel” with an extremely low cost per lead… problem was, getting the messaging right on a cold call/email is not easy so a lot of time (and money) was wasted.

Now my team spends 8 hours a day having two-way conversations with inbound leads—leads who actually want to have a conversation with us. A BDR/SDR might book 1-2 meetings a day, calling into purchased lists… my team here at Allbound is booking 4-5 meetings a day calling into inbound leads.

You’ll be disappointed in the long run if you end up purchasing lead lists for your channel. There’s a handful of reasons why, from the quality of the lists themselves to your own reputation:

List Quality

Any list you purchase will be of a fairly standard format. Email address, full name, and maybe some other contact information such as company and position title. What you can’t discern from looking at the list is if the contact information is valid. How can you be sure that leads haven’t moved companies and no longer check their old emails?

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Leads from a purchased list can go stale, and the only way to verify that the list is good is to send out a message. That’s not practical before buying the list, so it’s a huge gamble that is usually not worth taking. You may also want to consider how much time your team is going to spend cleaning the data, just to make it accurate!

Long-Term Email Deliverability

When you’re sending mass emails to a list that you purchased, you run the risk that the recipients consider the message spam. If they are not receptive to unsolicited contact, that could result in them reporting your email as spam, making it more likely that the email provider would automatically consider it spam the next time you send a mass email.

While user elections are normally not the only reason, they can be combined with email bounce rates to show patterns. If you are sending out emails to purchased lists on a regular basis, you’ll get a recurrence of bounced emails. When that happens, the email providers may flag your sending address. And then, combined with users marking your messages as spam, all of a sudden, you are not seeing any conversions from your email campaigns. Not worth it!

Reduced Personalization

Working with a bought list, you have no chance of leveraging an existing connection to your reader. Sure, you can customize fields and make sure the recipient’s name and other contact information feel tailored toward them, but that’s the extent. If you really want to build a connection to the recipient, the only true way is to already have that connection in place.

Lists that you’re buying may have all of the fields you want. But do they really give you any information that you need? The recipient may be turned off by the fact that you know more about him or her than he or she does about your company. Or if he or she is thorough enough to read your email, he or she will be curious as to where you got his or her information. Be prepared for a lukewarm reception at best.

Your Reputation as a Whole

Let’s assume that you’ve been able to deftly maneuver around the first three issues. You’ve had good luck with list quality, so you don’t bounce emails. And you managed to make sure that your emails are not paranoia-inducing hyperpersonal messages without any prior context. So you’re in the clear, right?

Not always. You’re sending messages to people who have never sought anything out from you. Which means that even if they don’t mark your message as spam, they may still find it annoying. And if that’s the case, then you’re in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, they may be interested in what you have to offer and have not been motivated enough to do shopping on their own. On the other hand, any further contact may push things over the annoyance threshold, and you’ll never hear anything from them again. Obviously, you have no idea whether a prospective customer needs gentle prodding or if he or she just needs time; however, customers who’ve sought you out expect contact, whereas those on a purchased list will not.

The solution to building your customer base is to leverage partner sales acceleration. When you can distribute lead lists to your channel partners that have sought you out, you’re looking at higher conversion rates. Not to mention that they’ve done the heavy lifting for you, and your reputation is not on the chopping block. While it does take longer than purchasing lead lists, the relationships are stronger, as you’re building a loyal customer base.

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