Early Demand Action Requires Contact Data

Despite the treasure trove of broad intelligence that early demand data reveals, it’s always going to be about leveraging early demand to reach specific individuals in target organizations. The core requirement of demand gen in 2022 is reaching the likely buying group, which, by definition, consists of multiple individuals within the same organization.

Only email affords the cost-efficient scale needed to reach a diverse set of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) within a company’s buying group. And, after all, email is “the most precise, the most targeted, the most statistically supported outcomes channel.” It is the logical channel in which to put your early demand data to productive demand gen use.

To leverage early demand at scale, you clearly must have contact-level data, inclusive of an email address. You’ll have some of that in your CRM, MAP, and/or database. Typically, the early demand data you capture yourself (first-party) is very valuable. Rarely, though, is enough available to drive volume to help meet sales goals predictably.

This is where intent data – captured at the domain level – comes into play. While no specific email address is typically provided for those whose behaviors we can observe at “domain.com,” those same domains can be very useful in acquiring contact data from the third parties who can match your domain list (your ABM list) to email address data they have available to them which also fits your ICP(s).

All of that said, the questions remain as to how you secure early demand at scale. Unless you decide at the outset, you may ultimately have an unwieldy collection of spreadsheets and CSVs that “talk” to no one – let alone a database. Make no mistake – you’d need a database of contact-level emails whose scale is sufficient to support the goals of your enterprise, unless you…


Rent, Buy or Build Email Address Data... or Buy Leads

The first two choices of Rent or Buy Contact data would secure the needed email addresses for you. Presently considered a commodity even in B2B, basic business card data for your ICPs (inclusive of email address) can cost less than $1 per each, even from reputable providers.

However, leveraging data obtained from others is fraught with peril and hidden costs. List hygiene and ESPs are but two expenses.

On the other hand, at the cost of 50x a contact compared to purchasing a list, purchasing leads puts a more significant portion of the effort on a 3rd party provider in a single cost expressed as CPL. With the right partners, this path can lead sooner to solid business outcomes since leads are already partly nurtured.

Rent or Buy Data?

In recent years, email marketing providers like HubSpot and MailChimp have become quite strict with identifying rented or purchased lists. Your greatest peril in this scenario is email deliverability and the impact it can have on outcomes if poorly maintained.

Frankly, there can easily be as much as 20% waste in a typical list. If some of the emails “wasted” mean you’re getting too many spam reports, bounces, or unsubscribes, you’ll be flagged, even if you didn’t think you uploaded a bad list.

Fundamentally, though. should you send email to U.S. recipients without prior consent?

HubSpot says never, but its inbound strategy depends on the passing of a fair amount of time to achieve any scale, which means initial outreach would be limited to social media and display advertising. I say if a U.S. email address matches your account list and one of your ICPs, press send. It’s about relevance, not permission, in the U.S.

Of course, don’t expect to convert cold contacts on your list without having a sound marketing strategy. From the first email subject line to your call to action, you must communicate effectively with your audience. It is only the most relevant and valuable offers that have a chance of moving non-permission-based contacts into the “funnel.”

Build Data?


Are you sure you want to be in the business of managing and maintaining a marketing database? Every year, 30% of said data decays and must be updated or replaced.

Seriously, this decision should depend on many factors, including the size of your business, your marketing budget, and the amount of time you must spend collecting names – unless you acquire them (see preceding subsection).

Building a proprietary database is expensive and requires a considerable amount of time and expertise. That said, tools such as Marketo are effective in managing most marketing information in a database environment, and the rest of the marketing stack is readily available.

Outside of purchasing data or leads, to build a database, you must EARN your data. That means securing contact data via inbound marketing (form captures on your website), which means establishing authority as a solution in your business area, which requires strategic development and distribution of engaging content.

If you have the time, that would be the ideal way to go, right? But pragmatically, most enterprises need a combination of both inbound and outbound engagement to meet business goals. And don’t forget ongoing maintenance if you determine to build your own database!

Buy Leads?

And, lastly, you could just buy leads, right?

Buying leads can be a shortcut to a quick win if your brand’s awareness is already achieved and its authority/thought leadership established.

In other words, it’s your already-done good work that is one of the foundations of a successful lead fulfillment partnership. Naturally, any scale must be enabled by the right martech stack that you already have in place.

Why? NURTURE. As your martech ingests this 3rd party data from self-educating buying groups, it must be encouraged through appropriate content, using the proper cadence of distribution to effectively enable buyers to engage on their own terms. In their own time, without any external “inputs” from those needing to meet quarterly sales and/or marketing goals.

If your organization doesn’t have the brand equity or the thought leadership in its field, buying leads is NOT a shortcut. Why? See prior paragraph.

  • Do you rent, buy, or build email address data?
  • How do you generate your email address data?
  • What does the future of early demand look like?

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