Electric Marketing Blog

How Many Is Too Many?: Using Email Lists Effectively And Sensibly

‘How often can I use the mailing list?’ can be the first question a new client asks Electric Marketing.

We don’t restrict the use of our mailing lists: it’s your marketing campaign, you are running the show. But to get the best value from an email list and to be able to use it over and over, we recommend that you limit emailing your cold prospects to once a month.

Business-to-business email marketers must be alive to their ‘unsubscribe’ rate. UK law states that you can send emails to business people on business matters but if they ask you not to contact them again or ‘unsubscribe’, you must not email that person again.  Each ‘unsubscribe’ is a prospect that you cannot email again. Ever.

To get best value from your email marketing list, keep the unsubscribes to a minimum so that your list of 1,000 marketing managers does not deteriorate to 900 email addresses after the first week.

One of the top reasons people give for requesting to be removed from the Electric Marketing database, is that they receive too many emails. If a prospect feels that your emails are filling up their inbox, they will seek out your unsubscribe button and launch themselves off your email list.

In tests, we have found that an email campaign to a fresh list of cold prospects can expect an unsubscribe rate of 0.5%.  Email that same list one month later and we receive the same unsubscribe rate. But email the same list two weeks later and the second email generated 1% of unsubscribe notices and we note, more strident language.  By emailing twice a month, so 24 times in one year, your email list shrinks at twice the rate.

‘People don’t unsubscribe because they do not want to hear from you, they unsubscribe because they know what you are offering.’

If your email marketing serves to remind businesses that you are still eager to do business with them, it is likely that you don’t have anything different to offer from last week.  You wouldn’t write to a business every week saying pretty much the same thing, why treat email differently on the basis that it is cheap to do so?  We recommend that you email your cold prospects no more than once a month for up to a year.  After a year of emails, it is likely that you will have to reach out to them by phone, post or social media and admit defeat on email. A quick phone call might reveal that they are not the right person in the company to make the decision.

No busy decision maker reads every email that arrives instantly.  Time management best practice dictates that successful business people filter emails into what is urgent and to be dealt with immediately, then maybe emails to be filed and then emails that are interesting and to read later. Realistically no senior decision maker will place an approach from a new supplier in the ‘must read now’ file.  Your first email should aim to be in the ‘read and consider later’ file. Give your prospect time to read your email.  It is probably best not to badger them with emails twice a week until they ask you to stop.

For email lists of busy decision makers in large companies see our page of email lists of directors and decision makers


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De-duping & Appending Mailing Lists: What Exactly Will You Do With My Marketing Data?

Last month we talked about how using de-duping and appending services can refresh your mailing lists, cutting down on marketing costs every time you email the list.

This time, more detail on the different ways of updating a mailing list.

Below is a four-step process we can follow with your marketing data and you can bow out of the process at any point, thereby controlling your spend but always ending up with a better list than when you started.

1. First up is the cheapest: verifying at 5p per contact. You email over your data, we run it against our up-to-date mailing lists and are left with two files. The first is of data that we know to be correct; the second is of data that did not match our own and so may be incorrect. We put the first file aside as ‘good data’.

2. We run the second file of suspect data against our Leavers Database, a database of 150,000 company directors and managers who have left a job since 2007. This cuts the file down to size again and is charged at 5p per removed contact. We know these contacts are incorrect, so these are discarded. You might consider telephone research to update these records, if your campaign deadlines and marketing budget allow.

3. Missing data fields; if the mailing list file is missing contact names, email addresses or phone numbers, we can add those in. Price 40p per new contact name. Or if we do not have the missing names, we can telephone the companies and research the new contact for you for £1.50 per name.

4. More contacts please: by now your file is looking fitter but smaller and is probably missing some key players. Brief us on the types of companies and job titles you are looking for and we’ll run a search on our database. We’ll find extra contacts that fit your brief. Naturally, we’ll run our data against yours so that you only pay for the new contacts added. Price 40p per addition.

So what are the downsides to this process. Firstly we are only using computers. No de-dupe software can pick up every error that your own human eye can pick up. The question is, would you rather wade through the data yourself, or give the job to a computer? A human eye, a sharp telephone researcher and a data inputter will get you closer to your perfect list, but will take far more time and budget.

There is no such thing as the perfect list (even if you do the work yourself). If you are a perfectionist, use a de-duping and appending service as a starting point and then scrutinise the data yourself, making corrections and taking out people and companies that you do not wish to contact, before you use it. At this point you might hire someone to telephone research the list for you. We can do this for £1.50 per contact.

Our final (and most popular) option is a complete file update. If you’ve bought a mailing list from us within the previous 12 months, you can ask for the same specification and pay a reduced price:

List bought within last 6 months 75% discount of total price

List bought within last 12 months 50% discount of total price.

Our page on de-duping and appending mailing lists gives you more details. Or to take us up on any of these data services, call David Evans on 020 7419 7999 or email lists@electricmarketing.co.uk


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I want to buy a mailing list but I don’t want to pay for the contacts I already have. How complicated is appending and de-duping?

No one likes to waste money paying for the same thing twice.  But if you already have data, how can you add to it without paying for the same contacts again?

Appending is a useful service which mailing list companies offer. It has its limitations but it can save time and budget and it allows you to quickly refresh the data you already have, without spending budget needlessly.

But, it is not something that you can do in your office on your PC. You have to trust your mailing list supplier with your data and allow the data company full access to it. Mailing list companies are happy to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements if you are worried that a mailing list company might take your data and sell it on (but any established company won’t – by your own admission your data is out of date, so why would they want it?).

So the first step is to email over the data to your list supplier.

The second step is to accept that mailing list companies are only using computers and matching software. Your human eye will pick up more errors in the list than the computer which only has fuzzy logic in its armoury. The question is, would you rather wade through the data yourself, or give the job to a computer?  A human eye will get you closer to your perfect list, but will take far more time and effort.

The key problem we face in not achieving perfect lists is that your old data might have out of date or incorrect company names. Without a match on a company name, matching software cannot work to its maximum capacity. An example of a non-match is your database has M&S plc which does not match our Marks & Spencer plc. Without a match, the software does not see the two records as the same company and skips the record without making the correction or appending the data. It becomes an unknown.

So for best results, quickly run your eye over the data, paying particular attention to company names and updating the ones you know to be incorrect.  If your data contains the company names CityLink (no longer trading), Cadbury (now Mondelez) and Lloyds TSB Bank (now split into Lloyds Banking Group and TSB Bank), these will not be matched and so cannot be corrected. If you want to keep up to date with the big mergers and acquisitions see our page of M&A News here or subscribe to the Electric Business blog.

When you email your data to us, we can run your data though all or any of these processes:

  1. Verify your data
  2. Remove known incorrect contacts using our Leavers Database
  3. Add in any missing email addresses or phone numbers (appending)
  4. Add in new contact names and companies that are missing from the list

The next blog will explain these processes in more detail, but whatever you choose you will end up with a leaner, fitter file of data and you won’t have spent budget on a brand new list.

We have a menu of appending and updating services for your mailing lists and email lists here.

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Mailing Lists of the UK’s Largest Companies; Which Companies Really Are In The UK’s Top 100?

How should you define the largest companies in the UK? By annual sales? By numbers of staff? Or do you go by the London Stock Exchange definition and buy a mailing list of the FTSE 100?

How you define your top 100 companies should depend on who you are contacting within the company and the product you are marketing. If you are targeting marketing directors, finance directors and CEOs, choose a list of the companies with the highest annual sales; generally speaking, the higher the turnover, the larger the purchasing budget.

But if you are selling to the HR, training, facilities or IT departments, buy a mailing list where companies are ranked by the number of people they employ. The more people it employs, the greater the budget for training courses, HR software, workstations, IT consumables, vehicles, property services and facilities to serve all those people working on the company’s premises every day.

Why not use the Stock Market rankings? The financial press ranks companies by market capitalisation which is share price multiplied by number of shares issued. This method excludes too many companies which you would expect to find on a list of the Top 100 Companies. For instance it excludes all privately owned companies, such as Mars Inc, all partnerships such as John Lewis, PwC, Eversheds plus all those companies that run huge operations in the UK but are listed on stock markets overseas such as Apple, Hitachi or McDonald’s.

Financial rankings do include a large number of mining companies, with operations in Africa, Asia and Russia which are using the London Stock Market to raise capital. These companies have very small head offices in the UK, staffed by a handful of people who are not responsible for the company’s main operations and purchasing. The FTSE 100 is no longer a list of UK blue-chip companies.

We’ve compiled our own lists of the UK’s Top 100 Companies.

First we’ve ranked the companies by annual sales and below that, by the number of people they employ.

We use these lists as the basis for our mailing lists of the Top 1,000 Companies. Find out more about our lists of the key players in the UK’s largest 1,000 companies here

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But why aren’t there more contacts on this mailing list?

We are occasionally, (OK once a week), asked to supply an impossible mailing list.

* 500 employee relations managers in Norfolk

* all the companies in Somerset which employ more than 2,000 people

* 1,000 marketing directors in Weybridge

These lists cannot exist, because there are areas of the UK where industry is concentrated and other areas where there are a handful of large companies. And it is only large companies which employ people with job titles such as employee relations manager and marketing director.

When you are considering how many companies make up your target market, bear in mind some key facts about the UK.

Two-thirds of UK companies are based in London and the South East.

The public sector is the UK’s largest employer; government departments, local councils, police forces, universities and colleges and of course the NHS.

Of the 1.4 million limited companies currently listed as ‘live’ at Companies House, just over 56% have employees.

The Department of Business, Innovation & Skills data defines a large firm as employing over 250 people. In 2013 it estimated that there are just 7,000 ‘large’ firms in the UK.

These 7,000 large firms generate £1.7bn and employ almost 10 million people between them. They are the holders of huge budgets and are excellent targets for your business. But there aren’t that many of them. And if you are based in a remote part of the country, they are few and far between.

When you are briefing your mailing list provider be careful what you ask for. If you ask a mailing list company for something unattainable, a certain type of provider will be tempted to sell you data that doesn’t suit your needs but sort of fits what you asked for.

Read more about buying mailing lists and email lists on the advice section of Electric Marketing’s website.

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Buying A B2B Mailing List: Why Job Titles Matter

When you’re thinking of buying a mailing list, the first criterion is usually type of company – legal firms, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, retailers. Then you might think geography – UK wide or local? And then obviously you want to target a decision-maker so you may choose managing director/someone senior.

But you can really target your list (and therefore pay less for it by buying less data) by considering the most likely job title your target will have.

If you email the managing director, you assume that he will pass your information down to the relevant person in the company. While this is a reasonable view when targeting companies of say, under 50 people, for larger firms (and it is larger firms who have the largest budgets) you need a more targeted approach.

If you are currently dealing with smaller companies where the managing director buys your product and you wish to tap into the more generous budgets of larger companies, discuss with your team which departments in a company usually use your product and contact the managers of those departments directly.

If your typical buyers span two departments you may need to send two e-shots ie marketing software can be bought by the marketing director and the IT director working together, so email the heads of both departments.

The most senior decision maker for a function does not always have a ‘director’ job title. For example, many firms don’t have an IT guy sitting on the board; they have a Head of IT who reports in to the finance director. You can ask a mailing list company to select IT directors and where there is no IT director, then select an IT manager contact.

A word of warning on job titles; some mailing list providers offer ‘the name of the person responsible for’ marketing, HR, IT, training, facilities etc. This is not always a manager with a budget and in a small company, you might buy the email address of the director’s PA or an office manager.

If you are buying a mailing list of medium to large-sized companies and are looking for a list of say, marketing managers, be sure to check that their job titles are just that. Ask the mailing list company for a sample of the data and a preview file of the companies and job titles you are buying.   If a company does not have a marketing function, it is often a clear signal that they do not run ongoing marketing campaigns. You are likely to be wasting budget chasing after a company that does not engage in marketing if you are offering marketing services.

On the other hand even large companies simply will not have the specialist job title you are looking for. Fleet managers, sponsorship managers, market research manager, travel managers, diversity managers, sustainability managers, IT security – these are all functions that may have a dedicated person or may fall into someone else’s remit. Again, ask the mailing list company to select, say diversity managers and where there is no one with that job title, select HR director or HR manager.

You can see a full list of the 121 mailing lists of job titles offered by Electric Marketing here

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Hard Bounce, Soft Bounce and Filtered? Why don’t all my emails reach the inbox?

Now that it’s common practice for email list suppliers to offer money-back guarantees on emails which do not reach the target’s inbox, you might find yourself sifting through returned emails, wondering what sort of bounce back will get a refund and what the mailing list company will refuse.

Here are Electric Marketing’s definitions:

Hard Bounce – you have the wrong email address. Check the spelling of the person’s name, the company name, that the address has an @ and a proper ending. It is easy to type .con instead of .com. Or the person has changed their email or left the company. If you have bought the list, email your list provider with all the addresses which hard bounced and get a refund. If you’ve bought your mailing list from Electric Marketing, we’ll correct the addresses we can (we phone all the companies on your list), send you the corrected email addresses and refund you for the remainder.

Soft Bounce – your email has hit a server which is down. Your software will probably try to send it again during the next 24 hours. If it doesn’t get through, try again the following week. The soft bounce is much less common than it was 10 years ago which I put down to better performing servers and technology. But a broken server is not the fault of your list supplier, so there is no refund on this one.

Access Denied – if your email bounces back with this heading, your email has been blocked by a spam filter. Again this is not the fault of your email list supplier but you can often fix this problem by looking at the message you sent and seeing which elements triggered the spam software to give your email a high spam score.

Filters work by giving each individual message a ‘spam score’. Marked out of ten, the higher the score, the more likely your message will be put in the spam filter. You no doubt use a spam filter yourself and know that you can choose the degree to which you set your filter, high, medium or low. The inboxes which reject your e-shot have their filters set to high, which means that even emails which get a relatively low spam score will be rejected.

For advice on writing an email which will evade a high spam score, see our page on Email Deliverability but the top 5 things to remember are

1. No hyperbole. Limit use of exclamation marks, capital letters and repetition.

2.Try not put too many links in the email. This is a characteristic of spammers. Balance the number of links to the amount of text.

3.Try not use images that contain text as this also is a characteristic of spammers. Filters cannot read text in images, so the spammer will hide his FREE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE in an image. Spam filters now filter out emails with images that contain text.

4. It is best not to send the email as one big HTML image. Balance the number of images to the amount of text.

5.Try not talk about lots of money. Big prices give you a big score by the spam filter.

Of course, rules are made to be broken.

You might find that you get a better response to your email by using lots of images or lots of links. And that on balance, it is better to live with a higher percentage of returned emails in order to make more sales to the people whose filters accepted your email.  Bear in mind that the person who sets their filter to the highest level might not be your best sales prospect.


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Compile Your Own Mailing List: Top 10 Tips From Electric Marketing’s List Research Team

Your best performing list in email marketing is your client list and second to that is your list of enquirers and people who have shown an interest in the recent past. But if you are looking for new business and a list of prospects is not readily available from a mailing list supplier, you might research the information yourself.

We’ve been researching business mailing lists for 25 years and while we’ll happily take on list research projects to your specification, we’ve compiled our top ten tips for mailing list research.

1. Start by compiling a list of companies you wish to target. If you’re not sure, look at your current client list and start looking for similar companies. Either companies in similar industries or of a similar size.

2. You no doubt have in mind the responsibility of the person in a company who is likely to buy your product ie person responsible for _____. Think about the job title they are likely to have. If you’re not sure, look at the job titles of your current clients.

3. Start by searching the web for people with that job title. LinkedIn.com is good but also look at the trade websites for that particular industry and search for articles on business websites which will often quote senior people, giving their name and position within the company. Look for their responsibilities and check that you’ve identified the right job title.

No two companies are structured in the same way and there are likely to be two or three options and job titles which overlap responsibility eg training manager, leadership development manager, workforce development manager, staff development and management development managers may all be responsible for buying in training courses. The finance director and the IT director will both have a say in the accounting software a company buys.

4. When you have some names and company names, start searching the web for the addresses and phone numbers of the companies. Go to the company’s own website to make sure that you get the trading address where staff are based, rather than the company’s registered address which websites such as Companies House and DueDil list. It is now a legal requirement that all companies have their address on their website and it is usually on the Contact Us page.

5. Now you have your calling list and it’s time to pick up the phone, check that the information you have found on the web is correct and ask for the email addresses of the people you wish to contact. Expect a fair proportion of data found on the web to be incorrect. You must explain why you want the email address and how it will be used. Be polite, professional and clear.

6. You may be able to verify contact information with the receptionist but be prepared for them to be hurried and abrupt if your information is horribly out of date. Ask to be put through to the department or, if your target is at a senior level, to the person’s PA.

7. If you have not been able to find any names on the internet, your task is more difficult. Some companies are happy to give out staff names and email addresses over the phone but there is an increasing trend to refuse all requests for names and emails unless you give a good account of yourself.

8. Have your sales pitch ready in your head. You can expect receptionists to put you straight through to any number of people. Some of them will be happy to chat, others not so much.

9. If you are handing this job to a junior person in your team, keep an eye on how the work is progressing hour to hour. As your research progresses you will learn more from conversations with companies as to who is responsible for what and hints as to the buying processes of your target companies. You might want to change the approach as you go along. It is easier to correct your own assumptions about other companies early in the project.

10. Electric Marketing offers a List Research Service. Prices are between £1.50 to £3 per contact name and email address found. If we can’t get the information, there is no charge to you. Just send us your list of target companies or even just an industry sector and job responsibility and we’ll research your prospect list for you and email it over to you. Recent projects have included:

  • a list of school improvement managers in local councils
  • a list of sales directors who sell to the public sector
  • a list of people responsible for IT in small ecommerce companies which are unlikely to have an IT director

To commission your perfect prospect list, call Robert Bingham or David Evans on 020 7419 7999 or email lists@electricmarketing.co.uk



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Top 5 Questions You Ask Electric Marketing

Electric Marketing is always busy in January as UK plc’s marketing team schleps back to work, grabs a coffee and makes itself comfortable in the office.

This week our time-pressed clients, usually marketing managers, have been taking advantage of our two-hour turnaround promise for quotes for mailing and email lists.

We’re always surprised when clients are surprised that we can get a quote out so quickly and we’ve compiled the top five questions you ask the data sales team.

1 How soon will you get back to me?
We can get a quote for a mailing list to you within two hours. It will have a small sample of the data you asked for attached. If you place an order, we aim to email your mailing list to you within two hours. If you need your marketing data sooner, mention this when you order or drop us an email.

2 What is the source of Electric Marketing’s mailing lists and email lists?

Electric Marketing is a research-led data company.  Every contact on our mailing lists has been selected to be included because their company is of a significant size and because the contact holds a senior role.  We focus our data research on companies with more than 50 employees or with annual sales of over £15m.

We carry out desk research, by monitoring business websites and reading trade magazines and business media.  We look for news of people taking up new roles with specific responsibilities for corporate budgets that our clients want a share of.

Then we telephone the companies we have found, confirm that the contact has that job title in that department and check the address, email address and phone number for the contact.

Then we add the contact to the Electric Marketing Database.

It is a labour-intensive process but it means that if you buy a mailing list or email list from Electric Marketing, you are buying a list of relevant prospects in organisations which have budgets to spend.

3 How do I know Electric Marketing data is accurate?

No matter what you are buying, it is always a leap of faith to use a new supplier.  Google the words mailing list or email list and every company seems to be making the same promises.

Electric Marketing has compiled a mailing list of 80,000 business contacts over the course of 23 years. We update the entire marketing database, by phone every four months.

We have a team of trained, experienced telephone researchers in house who phone the 80,000 business contacts to check for changes in their name, job title, phone number, email address or mailing address.

Because the contacts on our mailing lists are high-level decision makers, we speak to the people working around them to check the information. PAs, office managers and receptionists are our best sources of current information. If the receptionist says ‘I don’t know, I’m a temp’, we call back another day to update our records.

4 Can I just buy a small chunk of your marketing data?

Yes. We may have 80,000 contacts but no one wants all of it.

You can select your chunk of data by:

* job title ie just the IT Managers but not the IT Directors

* postcodes ie just Manchester postcodes, not the entire North West

* industry sector ie Finance Directors in banks or Marketing Managers in pharmaceuticals

* company size ie HR Managers in companies with more than 500 employees

And you can combine any of these criteria, so you could buy a list of finance directors in banks in London or IT managers in legal firms with more than 100 employees.

We have always had a firm policy of no minimum order for data; just buy what you need and use it quickly, before it goes out of date.

5 Can you invoice me?

Yes we can invoice you if you have bought a mailing list from Electric Marketing in the past and paid it on time, then you have an account with us and we can invoice you.

If this is your company’s first time buying a mailing list from Electric Marketing, we’ll ask you to pay by card.

We cannot invoice for small amounts of under £50.

If you are ordering mailing lists or email lists on our website, you can opt to pay by credit card or by invoice.


For more information on how we compile our mailing lists and email lists, see our page Why Use Us?


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Using Business Mailing Lists With Social Media

With the EU eager to ring the death knell for one-to-one marketing and bloggers on the web shouting that cold emailing doesn’t work, we look at new ways to cut through the information overload and reach the unresponsive corporate executive.

Post is too expensive, no one takes telesales calls anymore and gmail-type filters put all your cold email shots into the ‘cold email shot’ file which your target corporate executive never opens. How can you get your message in front of your target – the senior executive with a serious corporate budget?


The bad news: people exaggerate on LinkedIn. That head of marketing for a hot tech start up; it’s a guy in his bedroom in his Mum’s house with a great website and big plans. But he hasn’t got a budget, so he’s no use to you.

More bad news: people don’t update their profile on LinkedIn or they forget their password and the email address they used to sign up is defunct and so is the company that issued the email, so they can’t access the account and they are forever listed as head of marketing for Woolworths. So they start a new account. LinkedIn is littered with abandoned profiles.

But the good news is that LinkedIn is full of people in big companies with heavy responsibilities and big budgets to match them. It is just a matter of identifying the right people.

Using a researched mailing list to identify the people you want to target and find them on LinkedIn overcomes the site’s drawbacks. You can make contact either by requesting to connect (free) or using the InMail service. Either way you know you are putting efforts into starting a conversation with a relevant prospect for your business.



Twitter is a great place for driving traffic to your website. But you want the right people going on your site, so use a targeted, researched mailing list to identify the people you want as clients and start by following them.

Your targets may follow you back, but if you follow them, Twitter allows you to respond to their tweets. Strike up a conversation, maybe just retweet one of their posts or reply to a tweet with a simple ‘I agree’ or ‘great idea’. If you’re feeling timid, just favouriting one of their tweets will get your name in front of them. Most tweeters have their Twitter account set so that they get an email every time someone follows them, favourites a tweet, replies to a tweet or mentions their Twitter name in a tweet.

There you are, your name in their inbox and not in the spam filter. And you’ve said something nice about them, publicly. Who doesn’t respond to a compliment in their inbox?

And if all this chat about tweets, posts and retweets sounds complicated, read the Electric Marketing guide to using Twitter in business-to-business marketing.

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