Anyone Can Build a B2B Email List, But…

In principle, building a business email list is a fairly straightforward process. You just have to find ways and means to get your target subscribers to fill out your sign-up forms and let gravity take your contacts further and further down the funnel. In reality, however, things are not as simple. Gravity often lets you down, and you have to do much of the work yourself. Surely, anyone can build a list, but only a handful become really successful at growing it.

Although this blog entry looks at the things that could possibly go wrong in organic list building, this post does NOT recommend avoiding this method at all. If anything, organic list building should be a part of your campaign because of the numerous advantages it brings to the table. However, like everything else in real life, this strategy does have its share of disadvantages that’s also worth looking into. In general, organic B2B mailing list development may:

1. Take a long time to grow.

Depending on the time horizon you have in mind, the amount of time it takes to grow a list to sustainable levels may substantially exceed your expectations. While this span of time varies from campaign to campaign, it generally ranges between several weeks to a couple of months in order for you to begin accessing a considerable number of email recipients.

2. Divert key resources.

Although some could make the valid argument that organic list building is relatively cheap in monetary terms compared with purchased lists, the former does require a great deal of time, effort, and other resources which could have been spent on other more value-added activities like preparing email content/copies or other areas in your marketing or business.

3. Carry quality risks.

Unless you’re able to implement a double opt-in protocol, data quality will continue to remain a cause for concern. Verifying the accuracy of information that contacts provide is a very important process, but this activity requires considerable commitment as the list building campaign proceeds, taking us back to the points raised in #2.

4. Cause you to lag behind.

A potentially serious setback that in-house list building can bring is a reduction in competitive advantage by some degree. Again, the X amount of resources you’ve committed to list building corresponds to an equivalent deprivation in another area of your marketing campaign or a specific process in your core business.

5. Be difficult to measure.

Gauging the progress and returns of your list building project may prove to be a harder task than measuring the productivity of a purchased list. The former usually involves applying some inputs that are difficult to reliably measure in dollars and cents while the latter can easily be recognized and valued.

Again, this post doesn’t discourage the practice of building lists organically; it simply outlines some of the disadvantages that typically arise from its adoption. Everything in the real world has both strengths and weaknesses. There’s no reason why an organically-grown list should be an exception to this rule. As such, you have to consider ways to compensate for these setbacks such as thorough planning and execution as well as working with a reputable B2B mailing list provider.