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How to create an email list of UK businesses
Email Marketing

How to create an email list and IS it worth the time, money, and effort to create a list to the size you want

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Feb 14, 2024

How to create an email list of UK businesses

If you were thinking about creating your own email list for your sales team to carry out direct marketing campaigns, what steps would you have to take?

We’ll actually share that information with you in this article and, after we’ve done that, we’ll tell you why, in our opinion, it’s better, cheaper, and quicker to buy in a bespoke GDPR-compliant list to start off with while building up your own list over time in the background.

Email databases are a powerful business tool to help generate revenue and manage customer relationships.

Your business will grow quicker and benefit from better rates of conversions if you get your B2B email database strategy right – but which approach should you prioritise?

In this article, we will take you through:

  • what a B2B email database is
  • the value of your own email database (in sales and marketing terms)
  • how to create your UK business database with email addresses
  • the dangers of your compiling your database (GDPR)
  • best practices in B2B email database management
  • where to get further help

What is a B2B email database?

A B2B database is a database compiled for the purposes of direct marketing containing all the information on business customers with a likely interest in your products.

The database will also include contact details for each decision maker and wider information about the business they work for or own (from size to line of business to geographical areas served, and so on).

Your database is there for you to use to send out email marketing campaigns, run telemarketing campaigns, and conduct postal marketing campaigns.

The value of having your own email database (in sales and marketing terms)

Email marketing delivers engagement with your target buyers.

Email marketing is a way for you to get in touch with potential clients to tell them about your products and services and it’s a prompt for them to ask you questions about what you sell.

Before any order is placed, contact between two people needs to happen. Email marketing creates the reason for both parties to interact.

So, what kind of interaction can you expect from sending emails to your B2B database?

The average B2B email market3ing response rates in the UK in 2019 were

  • open rate – 17.5% (emails which have been opened and read)
  • click-through rate – 2.4% (when a button, link or image in the email has been clicked on)
  • unsubscribe rate – 0.2% (a recipient has clicked to receive no more emails)
  • bounce rate – 0.8% (an email that couldn’t be delivered, for various reasons)

Some sectors perform even better.

These include:

  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting with an average open rate of 35.9%,
  • Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities at 27.4% and
  • Engineering, Architecture and Design at 21.2%.

Why are open rates and click-throughs?

Open rates are when a recipient opens your email in their browser or email campaign once they’ve read the subject line. 

A click through is when someone who has opened your email clicks on an embedded link within it which takes them to your website.

Open rates and click-throughs can be tracked and recorded recipient by recipient.

A telesales representative can then follow this up with a call to try to sell or make an appointment.

Since the regulations around email marketing data were tightened, the average click-through rate of emails has actually increased

GDPR has shown that, if the quality of your database improves, results improve. This is because tighter regulations have cut down on people receiving unwanted and irrelevant emails.

Marketers are now being more careful about how their emails are constructed and ensuring the right products are being targeted at just the right businesses and their decision makers.

How to create an email list for your company – both options available to you

There are two ways to go about creating a B2B email database:

  • by building it yourself or
  • by buying a bespoke database in.

Option 1 – building your own database

Firstly, you’ll need to understand who your ideal customer is and build a B2B buyer persona (or several).

The more you know why your potential clients need your product or service, the easier it’ll be to convert them into customers when you have their email contact details. 

Get together with your sales team and look for common characteristics or traits in existing customers.

These include:

  • type of industry
  • company size as measured by revenue and/or staff
  • the role and responsibilities your contacts have within their companies
  • what challenges they face and opportunities they’re currently unable to exploit.

When you know exactly the types of businesses you want to target and which need to be on your database, search for them online.

This is time consuming but, when complete, you will have a list of the types businesses likely to need your products and services. 

You now need to know who the decision makers within these companies are.

This could be research from LinkedIn, Facebook, press releases, blog posts, interviews, company websites and more. 

Now you have an idea of who you want on your list, you’ll need to contact these decision makers. 

Assign someone to call the companies and individuals involved (or you can ask an outsourced B2B telemarketing company to do it for you).

Ask them for permission to send them marketing emails and take the same opportunity to gather as much information about each company and its need for your products and services.

Option 2 – buying in the data instead

Instead of wondering how to create an email list for your company, you could just buy one instead and cut out the work described above. 

There are many companies online who will be able to sell you reliable B2B data – decision maker names, email addresses, phone numbers and more of businesses.

You don’t have to buy their entire UK business database – you can just request to purchase the contact details of the decision makers most likely to need your products and services.

When purchasing B2B email data, be aware of the following:

  • always ask a supplier for verification on where the data has come from
  • the people receiving your emails from a bought-in list may never have heard of your company or you may not be correct that every single contact on your database needs what you sell
  • B2B data decays by about 22% every year so, if you purchase a 12 months’ usage licence, the data will become less accurate as the year goes by

Today, there are thousands of UK companies which use high-quality bought-in lists for their email marketing campaigns. 

There are dozens of list owners and list brokers who take the utmost care in compiling high-quality databases which generate impressive response rates. 

Look for a supplier which takes no shortcuts in its approach to building its B2B email databases.

Email marketing – dangers to be aware of

Without doubt, one of the biggest areas of concern for marketers wanting to use email marketing is GDPR.

Fines for GDPR breaches can reach up to 20 million Euros, or 4% of turnover.

But what is GDPR and how should businesses stay on the right ride of the law? 

GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, governs the compilation and use of personal data in the EU and the UK.

Does GDPR apply in B2B email marketing? Yes, it does.

Whenever you have an email address that identifies someone as an individual person, GDPR applies even if it is a work email address.

For B2B marketing, there is a specific exemption under GDPR allowing companies to send unsolicited emails to corporate bodies (limited companies, PLCs, and so on).

You still need to give people the chance to unsubscribe on every marketing email you send and, after a time, any recipients who don’t open your marketing emails will need to be removed. 

This rule applies to both lists you’ve compiled yourself and lists you’ve purchased from 3rd parties.

Best practices in B2B email database management

There are several approaches you can take to manage your database well and to get the best commercial returns from it.

We outline some of the best ones below:

Be as informed about your recipients as possible

A name and number are not enough – you need to know more. 

For example, is a recipient based in a geographical area you can serve? 

They may have the relevant job title but are they working in a sector which needs your products and services? 

If yours is a high-ticket product, do you need to focus your attention on recipients working at larger companies.

Keep it refreshed

Being able to trust the data gives your sales team the confidence they need to rely on the information. 

Marketing and sales teams need to believe in the data they’re using – the greater the level of confidence, the greater the level of effort they put into it because they believe that they’ll make more sales and earn greater commission bonuses.

Remember that B2B data decays quickly – read more here about the perils of relying on bad email data.

Keep it growing

Every business is subject to churn – customers ceasing to be customers over time. 

The key is to invest as much in product/service quality and post-purchase customer sales to reduce that level of churn. 

Email marketing lists are also subject to natural churn – companies closing, people leaving their jobs, and so on.

When building your own list, monitor bounce backs carefully – if you keep getting bounce backs from a particular email address, call the company and the individual involved to check that they’re still there.

If they’re not, ask to speak to that person’s replacement and ask for their permission to send them email newsletters. 

When you purchase a B2B email database, the company which sold you the list (or their media partners) will regularly refresh your data.

Keep in touch but not too much!

Try to limit the number of times you send emails to each recipient – ideally, no more than two emails a month. 

There is a point at which marketing becomes a nuisance and that threshold is different for everyone. 

However and in addition to that, the more you send out, the lower your response rates will be and a higher number of recipients will unsubscribe.

Say goodbye to the unengaged

You may actually doing your business harm if you’re still sending emails to subscribers who now see your emails as junk. But before you delete them, try what’s known as a ‘reengagement campaign.’

That is, to send an email acknowledging that they haven’t opened your emails for a while and ask if they’d like to continue receiving emails. This gives you the chance to re-new relationships and end the ones going nowhere.

How to create an email list? Let us do it instead.

Building your own database takes a lot of time, effort, and expense.

It can take months or years to grow the number of subscribers you have to 1,000 and the actual financial cost to your company of finding and persuading each subscriber to join might be £10 or more.

It takes staff away from other more productive duties and just because you’ve gathered the details of the decision makers yourself doesn’t preclude them from receiving emails from your competitors using lists they’ve bought in.

As well as spending time planning how to create an email list and then executing that plan, buy in a 3rd party list as well. 

You’ll have the decision makers’ details you need in as little as 24 hours, your database will be fully GDPR-compliant, you’ll have 12 months to use the data, and our team will help you make the most of your investment in us.

And, in the background, your sales and marketing team will be building up their own target list of prospects with the aim of turning them into your newest clients.

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Find out more

More Than Words is direct marketing agency who provide email lists for:

To speak to us about our marketing database service, please call us on 0330 010 8300 or click here to email our marketing databases team.

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