I get a lot of requests to find emails for clients and at times it seems like there’s a mad rush, a bit like the California Gold Rush of 1848, where at first, loose gold and gold nuggets could be picked up off the ground.
300,000 people from all over the world rushed over a 7 year period to find their fortune.
The rush for emails is not that spectacular, but it's certainly immense.
So, why is it a gold rush, well gold was scarce and precious so had a great value as many desired it; with email addresses, it’s not so much the scarcity but the difficulty of obtaining all the email addresses you want.
(There is another similarity with California – Silicon Valley - is arguably the centre of a lot of IT innovations.)
Everyone is capturing email addresses correctly (with a very low error rate), but emails themselves are harder to capture. So many of the databases I see have a large percentage of missing emails.
It’s natural not to give out emails addresses because we get bombarded with so many, each one seeking our attention, and we all have lots of other things to do in a day.
Before we talk about how to get email addresses, let’s consider if this is truly the right thing to do.
It’s fine to generate an email when you don’t have their email and have already been in contact, but probably not so fine if there are on your email list and they haven’t given permission to receive regular emails.
However, there are advocates of cold emailing as a perfectly legitimate way of campaigning. The argument is that they can delete, ignore or unsubscribe to your email (as we all do with spam), but if they are interested then they can take action.
The action turns into sales or leads; and this often justifies cold emailing because there is a positive return (the end justifies the means.)
But, isn’t it better to have their permission, because your conversion rates will be substantially higher with than without. As they are truly interested, that’s why they gave you their email address in the first place – a self-qualified prospect.
If you’re cold emailing, then you constantly need new emails because you will have a lower conversion rate for leads/sales.
There are lots of best practice guidelines and the Data Protection Act is here to help guide us through what we should or should not do.
Permission marketing seems to be the best way forward, but not the only one. In this case it’s much better to put more effort into creating offers and creating content that people will happily trade their email for.
Give people something they can opt-in to!
So how do you get email addresses? Well, apart from providing a great reason to opt in, you can purchase them from a reputable supplier (be careful as there many rogue databases out there with old email addresses); or you can research and generate them.
Occasionally emails are in the public domain, primarily on the web.
For business contacts many people generate emails by looking at the email structure. They use the domain name (after @ sign) and the name in the same format as a known email address. So if you know firstname.lastname@example.org is valid and you want the email address for Lucy Hoskins at the same company, then email@example.com is a good bet.
Related Post: (Video) Why Email Validation is Important & How it Works
Whichever way you wish to use email information, it certainly is a very important asset to your business. Each email is valuable, as it’s a potential sale. Every effort should be made to capture a prospect’s email either at the point of first contact or in subsequent communications.
I think most people are happy to give their email address if it’s relevant to them or something they are interested in. Marketing’s purpose is to keep them interested.
Whatever your approach to email campaigning, the rush for email addresses is going to be much longer the 7 years of the Californian Gold Rush.