B2B Articles - October 07, 2016

Do lead lists work? Why buying leads can harm your business.

Do lead lists work? Not if you measure success by leads generated, sales conversions, or the prospects' positive experience. Lead lists don't help build relationships. Here are some other ways buying leads can harm your business. 

Buying Leads Harm Your Business By —

Bruising your reputation

Business decision makers are overwhelmed with email. They are especially frustrated with companies that send spam. Fortunately, the volume of spam sent out is declining globally. Yet, there are still some culprits, as this Kapersky Lab chart demonstrates:

Spam traffic chart

Businesses however are still overwhelmed with the ever increasing volume of email they are receiving.

Forecast: Data volume of global consumer web usage, e-mails and data traffic from 2015 to 2020 (in petabytes per month) - Email volume

Don’t ruin your opportunity to make a positive impression. Before communicating with potential customers inbound marketers first consider several factors:

  • Source of lists of leads — e.g. did the leads give their contact information willingly?
  • Expectations of the people behind those names — e.g. did leads know to expect daily email blasts when they filled out that form?
  • Prospects’ needs — e.g. do all of these people need to know about your latest software update? Or would this be better sent out to loyal customers due to upgrade?

Do lead lists work? No. Buying lists is a desperate attempt to solicit sales from people who are not interested and in ways that are not relevant. Inbound marketing focuses on attracting, educating and converting leads by improving discoverability, relevancy, and demonstrating value.

Hurting your email open rate

The marketing team labors to create compelling emails, tests and tweaks, tests again and now has the golden ticket of email campaigns. But all that effort is wasted if the emails don’t get to the recipients’ inbox. Email deliverability depends on how service providers perceive your email. If the ISP thinks your message is spam, it could end up in the bulk mail box.

Your company’s email history also impacts deliverability. If you’ve consistently bought lists of names and sent unwanted messages that lack value for the recipient, your messages will get marked spam. This hurts your ability to get messages to those who have actually asked for your communications.

Why spam Source: Marketing Sherpa


Email sender rating


Related article:  What is an email sender score?

Leading to you being blocklisted

When a company really annoys with its unwanted mailings, the recipient may decide that simply unsubscribing isn’t enough. They can mark your incoming mail spam and block your address. The domain name will end up on a “blocklist,” a database Internet mail servers check to help decide an incoming email’s credibility. Spamhaus, one such list, illustrated the decision tree of spam filtering for users:

Spam decision tree

Wasting your money

Put simply — buying lead lists doesn’t work. The sales conversion rate from buying lists is low. It’s pretty easy to guess why — good email address lists aren’t on the market. A company with a good contact database is only going to diminish the value of its own efforts by selling the data to other parties.

Worse still, you could end up spending even more money paying fines or legal bills related to legal action taken against your business. Most countries have made unsolicited bulk email illegal — the US has CAN-SPAM.

Why spend your money acquiring an email address list or on legal assistance when you can expand your contact database for free — and with better results? Do lead lists work? Say it with us now — No.

Grow Your Lead List Instead

Grow your lead list by increasing the number of people who have opted-in to receive communications from your company. Inbound marketing provides a proper foundation for scalable lead generation. How?

  • Offer gated content that people value. Require an email address in return for the premium content.
  • Streamline forms. Make it easy for people to give their email address by using progressive profiling to ask only necessary questions on subsequent forms.
  • Consider customer needs. Instead of focusing on your need to increase sales, plan content that addresses the challenges and interests of current and prospective customers. Make them want to hear from you!
  • Promote your content across channels. Use social media, PPC, email, and CTAs on the website to encourage people to engage with the relevant, useful content your team has created.

Considering the risk to your brand’s overall reputation, a cost-benefit-analysis of buying lead lists shows the harm from this practice soundly outweighs the slim prospect of success.


Improve lead generation efforts. B2B lead generation agency.


Spamhaus. (n.d.) Understanding DNSBL Filtering. https://www.spamhaus.org/whitepapers/dnsbl_function/

Worldwide; Cisco Systems; 2015; fixed and mobile

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