HomeBusinessSome Telemarketing Lists Are Garbage. Here’s How To Check

Some Telemarketing Lists Are Garbage. Here’s How To Check


Telemarketing lists are lists of leads that a call center, contact center, or telemarketing department can use as part of their sales or information gathering efforts. In theory, they should be great: the company gets a list of people who may be interested in their product or service, and the people on that list get phone calls from businesses and organizations they actually want to hear from.

Perfect match, right?

Unfortunately, not always. With so many low-quality telemarketing lists being passed around, you need to be able to tell the difference between a good list and a bad one.

The Risks of Buying Low-Quality Telemarketing Lists

Buying low-quality telemarketing lists just isn’t worth it. There are too many serious risks if you accidentally use a bad one:

  • Wasted resources: The information on these lists often isn’t worth what you pay for them, and you can spend a lot of money on outdated, useless information.
  • Unproductive outreach: If your agents are spending all their time calling numbers that are out of service or irrelevant for your needs, that’s time they’re not spending calling actual leads or customers.
  • A negative impact on your business’s reputation: Everyone hates spam calls, and that’s exactly what your company’s calls will feel like if you work from a bad list. The risk to your reputation just isn’t worth it.

That’s really just the beginning, though. 

Using a bad list comes with a number of legal and financial risks. These lists often have numbers that are on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, and if you call one of these numbers, your company can be held liable for up to $50,120 per call.

That’s right. Over $50,000 for one phone call.

This is true even if you make the call using an outbound dialer, so you need to be super cautious about who you’re calling.

If you continually call numbers on the DNC registry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can also sue your business.

Signs of a Garbage Telemarketing List

So how do you know if you’ve got your hands on a bad list? Here are some signs.

  • Incomplete or outdated contact information: If you look at a list and see that it’s got missing data or inconsistent entries, it’s likely to be a bad list. For instance, the list might have a full complement of data about some contacts, but only the name and phone number of others. A good list is going to be thorough and consistent from top to bottom.
  • High bounce rates: All lists are going to have some level of bounce rate, but if the list you’re looking at has a bounce rate that’s anything higher than 10%, you shouldn’t buy it.
  • Low response rates: Similarly, if the list you’re looking at has lower than average response rates, leave it alone. Anything lower than 10% is a red flag.
  • Duplicate entries: This is a sign that the list hasn’t been reviewed or cleaned in a long time, if at all, and is likely of lower quality. Be on the lookout for names that might not immediately appear to be duplicates. For instance, it may include the same contact with their middle name in one entry and without it in another.
  • Irrelevant or unqualified contacts: Some people go into the process of buying telemarketing lists thinking that any batch of contacts is better than no contacts, but this isn’t true. If the list you’re looking at has a bunch of people who have never indicated any interest in your industry or company, leave it alone.
  • Poor data sources: The quality of data sourcing varies widely from company to company, so do some digging and see if you can find out where your prospective list’s data comes from. The better ones have data from verifiable sources, like networking platforms, business websites, and utility lists. The lists you don’t want either won’t list their data sources at all, or just list vague, unverifiable sources.
  • Lack of segmentation: Low quality telemarketing lists are a free for all—anybody’s contact info can be on them, regardless of who they are and what they’re interested in. Avoid any lists that aren’t segmented—or at least give you the option to segment—by demographic data. If you’re working in an industry with specific needs, try to find lists that allow you to segment for those niches. For instance, if you’re fundraising for a nonprofit, you’ll need a list that allows for segmentation based on previous donation activity.

Now, admittedly, this is all easier said than done.

The problem is, buyers often have to make a decision before they know exactly what they’re getting, since most sellers aren’t going to let you preview a list before you buy it.

So before anything else, look for red flags in your potential telemarketing list providers, including unrealistically low prices, no references or testimonials, promises that seem too good to be true, or a lack of transparency about how they source their data.

While there is little to no regulation in this field, you can often find reviews of companies that can give you more information as to the quality of their lists, and you can also look for any news or updates from the FTC about companies that have gotten on the bad side of the DNC registry.

How to Verify the Quality of Telemarketing Lists

Once you’ve marked the sketchy sellers off your list, look for the positive signs in the remaining contenders. Here’s how you can verify a telemarketing list’s quality:

  • Transparency: If the company can’t explain to you how it collects its data in a way you can easily understand, don’t buy the list. You should also ask them about their consent practices and have a clear understanding of how it ensures everybody on the list actually wants to be on the list.
  • Data security: Similarly, you should verify how it collects and stores data. Information should be kept in as few places as possible, data should not be shared across unencrypted communications channels, and only people who actually need access to the data for a specific reason should have that access.
  • Positive customer reviews: Look to see if the company has any reviews from businesses like yours, or even phone service providers. If possible, you can contact some of those businesses to hear more about their experience and results.
  • Options for customization: This is a subtle but important one. Low quality lists tend to include all kinds of people from all kinds of demographics, without much thought to whether they’re relevant contacts or not. Higher quality lists will allow you to customize to meet your business’s needs, so you don’t get any irrelevant contacts.
  • Price: Finally, the price for high-quality telemarketing lists is almost always going to be higher than that of low-quality lists. Remember, the higher the quality of the list, the more it’s going to cost upfront. 

The Importance of Maintaining Quality in Telemarketing Lists

Once you have a good list, you also need to make sure that it stays clean by following basic data hygiene practices. Always keep your list secure, and be careful with other people’s data. Don’t share information across non-encrypted means of communication, like text or email, and be mindful of who has access to the data.

You’ll also need to update your list regularly, reviewing the list for numbers that are no longer in service or simply not relevant to your company’s interests, and removing them from the list. Make sure you also update any outdated information. For instance, if someone has gotten married and changed their last name, be sure that’s reflected on your list.

While you’re doing this, also look for numbers that are on the DNC registry and remove them. You should check this regularly. The time it takes is well worth it if it potentially saves you from a $50,000 fine.

Maintaining the quality of your contact database is important for avoiding some very serious consequences, and the responsibility for keeping a clean contact list doesn’t end with purchasing a good list.

You need to do the ongoing work to keep your list clean and compliant. While this is going to take some extra work, it’s more than worth it in terms of protecting your reputation, avoiding potential legal consequences, and actually getting a positive return on your investment.




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