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We're preparing a series of e-brochures which will (hopefully) be of interest to the wider business community for an e-marketing campaign. For this we need e-mail lists of potential prospects, probably at least 10,000 of them just for starters.

What's the best way to go about this? I know you can buy e-mail lists from certain companies, but how do you know they are reputable? And how much should they cost? Obviously high net worth individuals would cost a fortune, but what about small businesses in a selected location, such as South London or Surrey?

We're thinking of just looking up them up on the internet ourselves searching by trade sector, and we have a couple of people with enough time to do it. Would that be better than buying them from a third party, or should we go to the "professionals" for warm leads? If so, any recommendations?

What about the legal side? Can you just e-mail anyone or do you have to check they are not on some anti-spam list (I believe this only applies to individuals)? And do you have to put an unsubscribe link on the e-mail? We would do this anyway but just want to check the legal position.

Would appreciate comments from anyone who's been down this road before.



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02nd Dec 2011 16:05

really bad idea

Good way to trash your local reputation.

If I was junk mailed by (say) a solicitor or a dentist, I would certainly be steering well clear from them on the basis that they must be desperate for work and are clearly not very worldly wise.

Why not do something positive instead?

We get heaps of crap come into our office, much of it claiming to be "opted in". Its complete rubbish. its interesting to note we VERY RARELY get emails from the same company again. Ie they must have realised it was a failure the first time. 


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02nd Dec 2011 17:42

Be careful ...

Otherwise you will undoubtedly annoy your provider and possibly get your IP address blacklisted - not good

Don't agree with the indiscriminate approach (or in fact mail shots at all) - however

There are companies that will mail for you and they will handle the matter in a professional way - providing metrics on those who have opened, bounced, unsubscribed etc. They also enclose an unsubscribe on all emails

Generally mail-shots have to crafted fairly carefully otherwise you get caught by the spam filters and it is a waste of time. Have a look at SpamAssassins scoring criteria and keep your flyer below a score of 4.5 - the lower the better

As for buying random lists as a scatter-gun approach - don't. Most email companies incude in their T&C that the recipients must have opted in and now a days the trend is a 'double opt-in' whereby confirmation is required from the actual email address you are targeting

Perhaps it is back to the drawing board to do some more research into all the aspects of this

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By cpavett
02nd Dec 2011 17:42

Invest and do it properly

Email and internet marketing can be a very good way of generating new business, however, it sounds like you haven't really got your internet marketing strategy sorted out yet.  You say you are preparing e-brochures already, just stop and have a think for a minute.

For a proper internet marketing strategy you need to establish your target market (sme's, sole traders, large PLC's etc), define your website around these, look at the usability of your website and look at inventive ways of driving traffic to your website which stays and an interest is generated in your services.  If this is done properly it will have a much greater impact than simply mailing out some brochures.  Also, the way that you are suggesting doing this would probably get you into a little bit of trouble with the anti-spam police!

There are many other ways of marketing your business of course but if it is particularly internet marketing you are interested in, I would suggest reading "Internet Marketing, How to get a website that works for your business" by Nigel T Packer, it's full of good advice about your whole internet marketing strategy, not just putting together a website, and it's only £7.99 on Amazon.  You could also have a look at his website at

Don't just rely on the internet though, word of mouth, networking, even postcards in shop windows can also be good forms of advertising that are also quite cheap.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck, I hope it turns out well!

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By cfield
03rd Dec 2011 17:04


Thanks to all respondents so far, particularly JC and cpavett for the constructive advice. I take the point about spam usually being ditched but we got this idea from a very good marketing firm who produce e-brochures and it echoes advice we've picked up from various seminars.

E-marketing is generally regarded as one of the more suucessful strategies provided it is aimed properly. We certainly won't be sending it to all and sundry. We know our target audience and will be hand-picking them.

Everyone hates spam but these are going to be glossy e-brochures packed with good advice with beautiful photos and attractive (in my view) background effects. Certainly not the Cardell-type rubbish you get in your spam filter every day.

Some of these e-brochures are so good nowadays that even I find time to read them, and I hate spam normally. Subjects will include things that actually save small businesses money, such as incorporation and the VAT flat rate scheme (in appropriate cases of course). Who could possibly object to learning how to save money?

All I'm trying to find out is the best way to go about it and to avoid any pitfalls. That's why I asked for advice from people who have done it before.

By the way, when I say we are already preparing them, I just meant the lay-out and some of the content. We haven't actually got round to producing them yet. That will only happen when I know we have an audience to send them to.



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05th Dec 2011 11:03


Hi Chris

What about packaging the ebrochure as useful advice for businesses and then attract their attention using PPC or social media? Swop the ebrochure for their email address/ contact details and you will then build your own list of people who selected you rather than the other way around. Provided you offer value and treat them respectfully you will almost certainly generate companies interested in your services.

As a side note: I understand that attachments can often get emails caught in spam filters.

Our company advertises an email address - which you may well be about to purchase (if you purchase a list) and while the email address does exist, the only time anyone goes near it is to delete another bunch of them (without opening, reviewing or in any way paying the slightest interest). I suspect many companies do this.

All the best in working out what to do next.



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