There was a well written post by Robert Vanselow, VP of Sales and Marketing at Newsmax Media titled: “When it comes to e-mail lists, more marketing is better” published on DMNews’ The 2009 DMNews Essential Guide to Lists & Database. The article made some pretty good points and there was just one particular point which I can’t completely agree on particularly with B2B and thought “there must be others who wont completely go with this either. With regards to list size for email marketing campaigns Robert says:

The size of a list is very important. When it comes to value, many marketers will argue against large files. We constantly hear that “Quality, not quantity, counts.” What is wrong with having both? It is true you can have a small list that really works, but unless the list has critical mass, it may not be worth the time of your marketing team to prepare and implement the campaigns. The key is to use larger lists. If you have your own list, put money and resources into expanding it. If you market to lists, look for larger list files. As a rule, we will never market to any third-party e-mail lists unless they have more than 200,000 names.

Now just so this isn’t taken out of context, at no point does Robert say quntity is more important than quality when it comes to email lists, he says ideally, you should have both. Also, the larger your list, the more odds you have of more replies and better results in terms of overall number of leads generated from the email list. However the line that stood out for me is “The key is to use larger lists“. Is bigger really better?

I am one of those who you can often find saying “Quality, not quantity, counts” although as Robert puts it, there is nothing quite like having both. What if you had to pick a stronger focus between the two? I would say “The key is to use better quality, better qualified lists”. Especially if it’s for your inhouse database. Quality data at the cost of quantiy is okay. Quantity at the cost of quality is the cause of inefficiency. In a laboratory conditions scenario with all things being equal, if a company X generated 150 warm leads using an email list of 5000 contacts and company Y generated 150 warm leads with their list of 700 contacts would you agree company B owns the more valuable list? If you did agree, then essentially you believe the value of an email list comes from its “quality” and not from its quantity. If the above scenario were possible in a real life situation, it means you can do “more with less” and if you keep that focus and continue to build out your list, you can really achieve more as the size does increase.

So now the question….. is bigger really better?

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