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Why buying a quality email list for your marketing campaigns is worth the outlay
Email Marketing

Looking for a quality email list but not sure how to judge quality? Ask the seven following questions.

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Sep 8, 2023

Why it is essential to buy a quality mailing list for your marketing campaigns

To generate the greatest return on any email marketing campaign, a quality email list is essential. 

On outbound marketing campaigns, lead quality is directly related to data quality. You are probably already aware of the frustration of trying to convert poor quality leads. 

B2B email data quality will be the major determining factor on whether your email campaign delivers the return on investment you want for your company.

How to determine whether you’re being offered a quality email list

The lead quantity versus lead quality issue is a major one for UK businesses since the introduction of GDPR in 2018. Although the UK is no longer a part of the European Union, GDPR legislation still applies in the UK.

As an experienced data supplier, More Than Words Marketing knows how best to ascertain good data.

The seven questions that we would recommend that you ask before you buy an email database are listed below.

1. How segmented is the data? (ask for a sample)

As a minimum, a quality email list for B2B companies should contain the following fields:

  • name of the business
  • contact names
  • job title for the contact
  • email address for the contact
  • address including town, county, and postcode
  • telephone number
  • number of employees
  • company registration number (and incorporation date)
  • turnover band
  • company net worth
  • profitable or loss-making
  • profit percent change
  • sales volume increase or decrease
  • website
  • premise type description
  • branch count

For schools and public sector databases, there will be a different set of fields you should expect as a minimum. If not, the chances are that the supplier is trying to resell an out-of-date DFS database gained through a freedom of information request.

When speaking with a potential supplier, you should make sure that you buy a targeted email list with no more data than you need.

Be as precise as possible as you can be when describing your target audience because imprecision can lead to:

  • targeting businesses with no real interest in your product or service and
  • unnecessary cost which will reduce the profitability of your campaigns using the data.

You should also ask for a sample.

Please be aware that most data providers (including More Than Words) will supply you with a generic sample. This is so you can see how the database looks and the general overall quality of information.

2. What are your potential supplier’s update cycles and accuracy guarantees?

Businesses are far more likely to move than homeowners. Decision makers within larger businesses also regularly change as companies change in size and as they promote internally and recruit.

As a result, the accuracy of a database will change over time, and this will affect the deliverability of your campaigns. Some suppliers claim that their database “decays” to a rate of around 2.5% a month while others claim 70.3% per annum.

Our experience is closer to the first figure – equivalent to 30% per annum. When checking with a potential supplier, you should aim for a minimum update cycle of 4-6 months.

Given average decay rates, around 10-15% of some of your data will be inaccurate when you purchase it.

3. Is it legal to buy email lists which aren’t compliant with GDPR?

Following the introduction of GDPR, previously-legitimate B2B email lists of UK companies has more than halved in size. The reason for this is email addresses of sole traders and partnerships is now considered to be personal data.

Data owners now must take extra precautions to ensure that emails contained on their lists are limited companies, public limited companies, and limited liability partnerships.

You are permitted to send messages to these email addresses without requiring prior consent. This is because ‘marketing’ is considered a legitimate reason for uninvited contact to body corporates. This is providing the email is advertising a product or service which benefits the business and not the person.

Ask your data owner or broker for additional assurances that sole traders and partnerships are not included on their databases. If you do send to one accidentally, this means you can prove that you took all reasonable steps to purchase only compliant data.

4. How long is your data usage licence?

Businesses have their own individual buying cycles for products and services.In simple terms, this means your email will catch some companies when they’re ready to make a purchase. However the vast majority of the companies you contact will not be in the market at that time.

For each email broadcast you carry out, it’s reasonable to anticipate that between 3-5% of recipients will be ‘in the market’. This does not mean that the 95-97% of emails you send to companies not ready to buy right now are wasted.

B2B purchases are far more considered than B2C purchases – they often involve multiple decision-makers and influencers with a company. They are spending the company’s money and a wrong purchasing decision is likely not only to cost the business itself but the decision-makers’ career prospects.

The more a decision-maker sees your emails, the better they understand your business, what you do, and what you’re capable of delivering for them. A good supplier will sell you their quality email list with 12 months’ usage.

5. Could the database be compiled for the price they’re asking?

Email list building requires considerable technical and labour resources. The lower the price of the data you’re offered, the more likely it is to be an illegal copy of an older database (probably 2-3 years old or even older). It’s also less likely that there are any email list management protocols in place.

Given the decay rate of B2B data, the majority of the information on these databases is unlikely to be correct. It will almost certainly contain sole trader and partnership emails (which is illegal under GDPR).

There are free email lists for marketing to businesses in the United Kingdom, but we strongly suggest you avoid them at all costs.

6. Does the rep who’s trying to sell to you sound like they understand marketing?

The B2B and B2C database industries have been plagued for years by poor quality data suppliers selling what they describe as a quality email list for next to nothing.

A good way to ascertain whether or not you are working with an experienced marketer is to speak with them on the phone about your marketing objectives. 

If they don’t seem to know much about the marketing process, buying cycles or their data, steer clear of working with them.

7. Will the company send out emails for me and report back?

When you purchase an email database, you may need help from your supplier on how to send the emails for maximum deliverability. If not done correctly, a database with a 90% accuracy level might only reach 20% of inboxes.

During marketing automation (the process of sending out email campaigns through specialised software platforms), the servers from which email campaigns are sent have their own sender reputation (or “trust” level).

If you find a good email provider (including More Than Words), they will usually send out the first few email campaigns for you. After a few days, you should receive a report showing you which recipients opened the email and clicked through to your website.

From your supplier’s reports, you will be able to see email deliverability and decide whether you need to look into email list cleaning or choose a different supplier in the future.

Email content quality vs quantity – why it’s better to keep it brief

There are two ways that an email server judges the quality of any message you send:

  • the content of your email, and
  • the design and technical specifications of your email.

Email content

Decision makers within companies do not like receiving advertisements that are not applicable to them. This is why it is important to make sure that you only buy email data for contacts that have a high likelihood of needing your product or service.

When composing your email, you should make your message as simple and direct as possible. You should have a clear and compelling subject line, and your email must get straight to the point. Towards the bottom of the email, there should be a clear call to action directing the email subscriber to the next action you require from them.

More Than Words tip – ask one of our account managers about our email marketing service if you already have an email marketing list you want to use. Or read our email marketing top tips blog.

Email design and technical specifications

More than half of all business emails are first seen on a mobile phone. That’s why three quarters of companies now optimise their emails for mobile phones.

Ideally, your mobile-optimised email should encourage a call direct from a recipient’s handset or a clickthrough to your mobile optimised website. The amount of coding and the size of the images used in your emails directly affects the quality of the user experience.

You should never include attachments and your email should be read, digested, and understood within 8 seconds to get a response.

Our quality email list – what you need to know

As marketers, we’re aware of the intrinsic added value that quality delivers over quantity in business. Our answers to the questions we recommend earlier on this article that you ask suppliers are:

How precise and segmented is the data?

More Than Words’ B2B email database contains all of the fields listed earlier in this article. On specialist B2B data sets (please enquire for more information), additional fields may be available.

The data which tends to have the highest number of fields filled in are contact data and line of business data. Fields which tend to be less populated are financial data.

Before you complete a purchase with us, please ask us to let you know the level of coverage within a particular field if that field is of particular importance to your marketing campaign.

How often does your potential supplier update the database?

As a data broker and not a data owner we work with all of the UK’s major list owners and they each have their own rolling cycle of data updates. With some suppliers, the entire database is refreshed every three months and, with others, the refresh cycle may be nine months on average for a particular record.

We offer the following accuracy guarantee levels on our databases:

  • 98% address accuracy
  • 91% telephone accuracy
  • 85% email address accuracy

We do not offer accuracy guarantees (in common with the rest of our industry) on any other fields on the database. More Than Words also provides email verification and data enhancement services.

This service can be used on your current database to bring it up to date.

Is your supplier GDPR compliant?

Yes. All of the data we provide to customers from our media partners is fully GDPR compliant.

How long is your data usage licence?

We licence the data for 12 months after purchase. You can use the email data contained on your database once per calendar month.

After the end of the 12 months, you are still permitted to contact:

  • companies on the database which have bought from you,
  • companies which have expressed an interest in your products or services, and
  • any engaged subscriber (companies that have signed up to receive further emails from you).

You will not be able to continue to contact unengaged subscribers after a year. However, if you still want access to these inactive subscribers speak to use about a licence renewal.

Is the price they’re offering for a quality email list realistic?

More Than Words is a competitively-priced supplier of data to thousands of UK companies. Our pricing policy enables any small business that wants to use email marketing to find a potential customer base.

We have to pay for and licence every single record of data that each client purchases from us subject to a floor set by our suppliers. The prices we charge allow our customers to benefit from the highest level of profitability by offering the lowest realistic costs.

Does the person who you’re dealing with at the supplier sound like they are experienced and knowledgeable?

All of our sales reps are very knowledgeable about the best practices of email marketing and direct marketing. You can find out more about each salesperson and email marketer on our meet the team page.

We look forward to answering your questions and sharing our ideas with you.

Will the company send out the emails for you?


In addition to offering a comprehensive UK B2B email database service as well as school emails and public sector email addresses, we also provide managed:

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Get in touch with us by calling us on 0330 010 8300 or click here to email our team .

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