Dirty leads done dirt cheap

By Ros Hodgekiss on 14th June 2012

It wasn’t so long ago that we discussed permission and purchasing lists on this blog, but ‘Word to the Wise’ presented an interesting point-of-view on the matter recently, from someone actually on a for-purchase marketing list. The company selling ‘leads’ had made their database searchable, so WttW’s Laura Atkins got to the task of finding out as much as she could about herself. The outcome? Not only was Laura listed multiple times, but:

“Not a single listing gets my contact information correct. Not a single listing gets my employer correct. Three of the listings identify me as working for different companies. I’ve never worked for any of those companies.”

There’s no mention of how exactly she got on their database (although it’s likely ‘compiled, crawled or crowd-sourced’), but from the sound of things, it really wasn’t worth anyone’s money. Or as Laura summarized:

“I’m actually surprised at just how totally inaccurate the data about me is. I’m not that hard to find.”

Compare this spotty database with an organically built subscriber list of real, interested people and you’ll see that purchasing lists, even ‘targeted’ lists, is just bad value. Don’t get us started on what happens when campaigns are sent to purchased lists, either…!

Many thanks to Laura for sharing her perspective here - hopefully she gets away, without being emailed as the CEO of non-existent companies. Have you been on the receiving end of ‘targeted’ marketing gone weird? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Koen Mertens
    15th June

    Just like CM policy dictates, we don’t send campaign nor allow clients to send campaigns to purchased lists.

    There ARE good and clean lists of contacts (it’s not all bad) but they are scarce and there is just no way of knowing for sure where these lists come from, if they are even just a bit accurate or of the people on them want to be contacted by you. So it’s never a good investment…

    Having worked for a company (about 6-7 years ago) that provided these kinds of lists the story in this post sounds very familiar.

  • Sara Hebert
    18th June

    I’m on the mailing list for a number of photographers, which is strange because I’ve never hired a photographer for a project - it’s usually the responsibility of someone else on my team. I did a little digging and somehow nearly everyone at our agency was put on a list that is sold to photographers through a company called AdBase. Also, I cannot figure out how to remove us from their list!

    On the other hand, if a photographer did take the time out to recruit me organically, I would be inclined to recommend them. This has actually happened with a number of photographers I’ve met through social media or have sent a personal email.

  • Agreatwhitemike
    28th June

    Is there anywhere that you can get good lists from?
    Or are you always better off creating your own per industry?

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    28th June

    Hey there Agreatwhitemike, building your lists organically is the way to go. Purchasing email lists is absolutely never a good idea :)

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