Renting or Buying Customer Lists: An Unnecessary Evil

Renting or Buying Customer Lists: An Unnecessary Evil

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Back in the olden days of marketing (or golden days, depending on your perspective), it was customary to purchase or rent customer lists.

These lists in the advertising heyday of Madison Avenue (think of the martini-swilling lunches of Mad Men), represented ideal demographics and contact information that marketers wouldn't otherwise get their little hands on.

Back in the olden days, there really wasn't a mechanism that allowed for potential customers to sign-up for whatever publication or promotions they desire.

Purchasing and renting lists was the norm because there wasn't any other way to get this critical information.

Sadly, however, there are those in the business that remain steadfast in the power of buying or renting such lists. At a time, this practice was tried and true, but now it's just tired.

Fundamentally, there isn't a need to do so anymore!

If you need to get your hands on a list, then you're not doing your job! Stop immediately! Technology is on your side, something that the good ol' boys of Madison Ave didn't have.

The best practice for growing your subscriber list is to do so organically. Have your targeted demographic come to you, instead of chasing after them.

If anything, you're resorting to telemarketer practices, where you blindly dial numbers of people who aren't interested in what you're offering, and ultimately, spoiling their dinner.

That is what buying a targeted list means today.

So, how do you get this coveted list without buying or renting?

Look to how you're currently operating: is there a clear place on your website, social media page or retail location where your customers may opt-in for your emails?

- Do you have a pop-up window on your home page asking your visitors to sign up for your fantastic newsletters?

- Do you have a static email sign-up form on every page on your website?

- Do you offer incentives and promotions to opt-in to your emails?

- Do you offer multiple types of emails with different delivery rates?

This is why customer privacy matters.

Across the board, it is standard to include in your privacy information linked to your email newsletters to let your subscribers know that you aren't going to sell or trade their information. By signing up, your subscribers trust you to keep their information private.

If, however, you do have an option in your sign-up form (as many companies do) to allow your subscribers to chose to have third-party sponsors and businesses contact them, your subscribers are giving you the green light to share their information.

You have to remember that the Internet is a tricky beast.

In the olden days of marketing, direct mail and phone calls were the way to lure in new customers. That was the only way to gather more business. Sure, word-of-mouth was another way, but in today's market and with today's technology, your customers are doing that for you through their web-connections.

Your customers are leery about having anything private about them available for the lowest bidder. As the pop-culture reference goes, do you really want the lowest bidder to build your car? Absolutely not. This is what you're doing to your customers.

If your customers know that either you're selling their information or you're buying their information, they will quickly dismiss (or delete) you. You've lost even before you've started.

Information is so easily transmitted through the web. Unlike the olden days, give your customers and subscribers a choice. That is what they want. And, that is how you'll grow your list.

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