Since a good portion of my dialog with marketing folks revolves around the topic of lead generation; I’m sometimes in situations where what I perceive to be a valuable lead is not necessarily what my clients perceives to be a valuable lead. As I’ve said in some prior posts – I’ve learned the hard way that the first thing I absolutely have to do is get on the same page as my client / prospect as to what their definition of lead is, and a quality lead at that. Simple common definition issues can really create problems or expectation issues down the road; or even kill the sale altogether without common understanding of each other’s perceptions and definitions of leads.
One lead generation issue that has recently come up is the perceived value of a lead when the individual opts to use a public email address, such as a yahoo, hotmail or gmail as opposed to their “business” email address. There were some questions as to whether a lead had value, or the same kind of value, if they weren’t explicitly using their business email address.
Before we answer this question – I think there is an opportunity to first ask – why would a legitimate potential client choose to utilize a public email address vs. their work provided email address?
Based on my experience – here are a few reasons why:
• Prioritization: Most folks have “dual” addresses – we all have a gmail or yahoo account. If we registered for everything using our business email we would likely get 2-3 times as many emails as we already receive – my business email is for urgent business from external clients and internal correspondence…my sourcing and business research takes place in my gmail or yahoo account, which doesn’t mean it’s not important – it’s just typically not as urgent.
• Comfort: Plain and simple, most folks are just not comfortable using work email for anything but internal correspondence or client correspondence
• Privacy: People use public email accounts to “screen” information simply to make sure the site or information they’ve requested lives up to what they were expecting it too. My company sees this all the time from existing clients requesting some of our whitepapers – they use their gmail address; even though we have their business email address already on file.
• Control: A public email address gives me one level of anonymity in the event I’m not ready to engage in further dialog yet. My research is important – but again, it may not be urgent yet.
• Accessibility: Public email accounts are accessible via any web browser – any where; without having to log into secure VPNs or remote desktops – just simpler to do for folks when traveling or away from work computer on evenings, weekends etc.
• Portability: Folks like a permanent address in addition to their current address – if / when they switch jobs – they can still access certain information without interruption.
• Spam Control: Public email services like yahoo, gmail etc. have invested heavily in spam control technology…in some cases better than my own corporate spam controls.
• Restrictions: There are certain companies and industries that flat out restrict the use or even access of work email for external communication due to security issues. For example; I spent two years working for a defense contractor– I was unable to receive or send email outside of the defense contractor network – but there were designated computers for external communication – but I had to use a public service email address when using them.
As you scan the list above – they all seem like plausible / reasonable answers why someone might elect to use a public email services – but I don’t think any of them ‘detract’ from the value of the lead. Whether a prospect opts to use a public email service or a business email service, it does not mean the individual is not a legitimate, qualified prospect – it simply means they are willing to receive unsolicited email – but only on their terms.
Hope this helps.