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  • Clare Tweed

How to create an email list of UK businesses


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.

In this blog, 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 B2B database

  • 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 simply a log holding all the information you have on potential customers, including their contact details, information about their business and any key information you consider important.

Remember, your database is only ever as good as the data it holds so it’s important to get it right from the start.

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

Businesses often consider a well-constructed and maintained email database fundamental to their success and with good reason.

High website traffic numbers may look impressive but what really matters is the value each visit brings.

If your email database is bringing in traffic that is highly targeted, your visits are more likely to lead to a sale or repeat business.

So, what kind of numbers can you expect from sending emails to your B2B database? These are the average email rates in the UK in 2019:

  • Average open rate: 17.5% (emails that have been opened to read)

  • Average click-through rate: 2.4% (when a button, link or image in the email has been clicked on)

  • Average unsubscribe rate: 0.2% (a recipient has clicked to receive no more emails)

  • Average 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 these types of actions important for sales?

Open rates and click-throughs can be tracked to see who opens them.

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 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 untargeted emails.

Basically, marketers are now being more careful about how their emails are constructed, ensuring the right products are being targeted at the right people.

How to create your B2B email list

There are two ways to go about creating a B2B email database – by compiling it internally or by buying-in data.

Creating your own database (internally)

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

The more you know why they need your product or service, the easier it’ll be to convert them into a customer.

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

  • Type of industry

  • Size – revenue / staff

  • The role and responsibilities your contacts have within their companies

  • What challenges they face

  • KPIs


Consider other industries that may also be a potential source of revenue.

For a deeper understanding, try creating a buyer persona with this free download.

Secondly, once you have a clearer idea of the type of businesses to target, you can search for them online.

While this stage is time consuming, at the end of it you’ll have a list of businesses who fit your target customer in the geographical area(s) you serve.

Also make a note of which companies are:

  • Spending on Google Ads

  • Sponsoring posts or paying for ads on social media such as Facebook

  • Advertising in magazines and newspapers

  • Using outdoor advertising

  • Flyering or dropping leaflets through your door.

The next stage is to find out the contact details of the marketing managers / business managers / decision makers in these businesses.

Look at LinkedIn, Facebook, press releases, blog posts, interviews, company websites and more.

A little tip: it’s worth making a note of how recent the information source is, as people do move on and roles change.

Finally, the contact details will need validating.

Assign someone to call the companies involved. A short, prepared script will help speed up this process and may assist in any follow-up calls in the coming days.

Buying in data – and the legalities

You could just buy in your data and take the hassle out of having to perform the above steps.

There are many companies online who will be able sell you data – names, email addresses, phone numbers and more of businesses all customised to your demands around demographics.

The companies that sell this range from being reputable, to very questionable.

Ever ticked the ‘receive data from a 3rd party’ box when inputting your details on a web form?

Chances are your email address is for-sale somewhere.

While it is still legal to purchase data, it is good to be cautious of the risks:

  • Be careful to ask a supplier for verification on where the data has come from

  • The people receiving the email may never have heard of your company or expressed an interest in your products or services

  • The data may be out of date

  • Your company reputation may be risked by sending unsolicited emails with low open rates

  • Data that has been bought tends to be blocked by spam filters

  • Your internet service provider may block your account or even fine you.


All things considered, 1000s of UK companies rely on high-quality bought-in lists for email marketing.

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 short cuts in its approach to building email databases.

If it is an approach your business is considering, we would recommend buying in a reliable list as a short-term lead generation tactic and building your own list as a longer-term tactic.

Dangers of your compiling your database (particularly GDPR and privacy policy)

Without doubt, one of the biggest areas of concern for marketers looking to use B2B email databases is GDPR.

This may have something to do with fines reaching 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 General Data Protection Regulation in full, is an update to data protection laws for the digital age.

It is designed to protect personal information and that could include anything from a name or photo to medical details.

Does GDPR apply in B2B email marketing?

Yes, it does. Whenever you have the name and number on file, or an email address that identifies someone, even when it is a work email address, GDPR applies.

There is actually good news for businesses.

It is true for B2C that anyone on an email database needs to have intentionally opted-in and consented to receive marketing emails.

But for B2B, under GDPR there is a specific exemption allowing companies to send unsolicited emails to corporate bodies (limited companies, PLCs, etc).


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

Best practices in B2B email database management

There are several actions you can take as a business to ensure the successful management of a database.

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 a database with insights your competitors would gladly try to get hold of.

Keep it refreshed

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

Keep it growing

Your business is going to grow if your list of relevant contacts grows.

Keep in touch, but not too much!

Treat each entry on your database as a relationship rather than a number. It’s important to keep in touch with carefully constructed emails from time to time.

Say goodbye to the unengaged.

You are 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.

Where to get further help

We’ve guided you through what a B2B email database is, the value of having one, how to create it, the dangers involved and best practices.

Keeping an email database up to date demands a lot of time.

Your prized asset can quickly become less productive.

In fact, B2B email data decays at a rate of 22.5% per year.

A lot of your turnover will come from a customer database so it’s important to take care of it and keep it accurate and up-to-date.

A database managed by More Than Words will stay up to date, accurate and compliant.

You’ll be able to select the companies you want to target by line of business, turnover, geographical location and more so that you’re only spending money on data you actually need.

Contact us

To speak to us about our B2B email marketing database, please call us on 0330 010 8300 or email clare@morethanwordsuk.co.uk and ask us how we can work with you marketing your products and services to solicitors.

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