Prospecting: is buying an email database a good idea?

Prospecting is often the bête noire of sole traders. Some are even forced to stop their business for lack of customers. However, the right prospecting method can pay off handsomely. It's just a question of making the right choices. Let's take a look at how to reach future customers, especially through an emailing campaign. We'll take a closer look at buying and renting email databases.

The key to effective prospecting

Effective prospecting is based on a clear message that interests the people to whom it is addressed. After all, how can you convince a prospect if you don't know their problems and can't explain your concept? It's pointless trying to sell a product or service to someone who doesn't need it, or worse, doesn't have the budget to buy it.

A good prospecting method requires upstream work on market knowledge and the presentation of your offer.

Before convincing anyone of the merits of their offer, all entrepreneurs need to be convinced themselves. Professional salespeople can sell anything to anyone, but not everyone has the same commercial fibre.

Loving your product, using it personally, being convinced that your service can provide solutions, and having confidence in your abilities are all essential for successful prospecting.

Create a customer file

To start prospecting in earnest, you'll need to gather as much information as possible about your prospects. Having a good database is a great help.

The ideal solution would be to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, which is unfortunately rather expensive. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a set of tools whose aim is to offer a company's products or services in line with its prospects' expectations. To achieve this, CRM software collects and centralizes customer data, then analyzes it. Among other things, this customer management solution makes it possible to send targeted mass e-mails.

Many small businesses use Excel to store their data. Be careful not to accumulate too much disparate information. A customer file must be complete, yet easy to use.

Find prospects' contact details

There are thousands of addresses available on the Internet, in the form ofdirectories or files for rent or purchase. Some service providers specialize in selling e-mail files.

In the case of professional files, these may include government departments, local authorities, the professions, works councils, etc. Consumer files, on the other hand, are based on behavioral segmentation, revealing consumer habits. These files contain virtually all essential information.

When you buy a file, you become the owner of its content. So you can use it for mailing ad vitam aeternam. Even if the cost is higher than renting a file, it may still seem a good idea to buy these addresses. In fact, a rented file can only be used once. Unfortunately, files expire very quickly. After just one year, around 20% of the information collected is obsolete.

Rented files are less expensive and more frequently updated, as invalid addresses are automatically removed.


Emailing is a marketing campaign that generally achieves a good return on investment. By using an e-mail file marketed by a specialized company, you are at least in compliance with the law, since all registered Internet users have given their consent to receive commercial messages.

While this is an undeniable advantage, there are at least three disadvantages.

  • Internet users often tick a box without realizing it, or don't remember,
  • these email lists are overused,
  • messages are sometimes classified as spam due to the number of companies that buy addresses.

Free email databases

The law is very clear when it comes to individuals who are not already customers: it is forbidden to use e-mail addresses collected on the Internet without the owner's consent. The risk is to be quickly blacklisted by all ISPs. By being flagged as undesirable, messages are automatically classified as spam. You'll have to forget about them for a long time, or change your e-mail address.

Legal entities are easier to reach, as they are not subject to the same conditions. However, each e-mail must specify the identity of the advertiser and offer a simple means of objecting to further solicitations.

Acquiring qualified, targeted e-mails is useful for developing a business, but can sometimes be expensive. Free or low-cost methods do exist, although they are not always legal.