Email Lists: Low-Hanging Fruit or Cream of the Crop?

Get Off on the Right Foot!

You’ve implemented a lead generation strategy to get more potential clients on your radar, and it seems to be working. Great news! Lead generation and list building are important facets of any good holistic digital marketing strategy.  

When you receive contact information from a potential client, the last thing you do is let that contact sit dormant in your contact management system, right? (If you do, we might want to have a talk and revisit that practice.) Hopefully, you are finding ways to reach them through various avenues, including phone calls, follow-up emails, and drip campaigns. 

When you begin to see growth on your email lists, the feeling can be exhilarating. People are filling out forms on your website and reading the organized and helpful content in the drip campaign that you’ve carefully chosen for their particular stage on the client journey, and some of these contacts are what you would consider “engaged.” Conversely, there are still some contacts on your list that aren’t opening your emails, answering your phone calls, or worse – marking your emails as spam and doing away with you. 

So, what do you do with those contacts?  

Your initial reaction might be to keep them in your list and continue sending them your content, even after attempts at re-engaging with no success. The truth is, however, that in many cases, it might be best to delete those fruitless contact and focus your efforts on qualified leads instead. 

RELATED: Persistence Pays Off: Lead Pursuit and New Client Acquisition 

What Constitutes a Quality Lead?

Consider someone shopping for new clothes. Let’s call this person Bob. Our new pal is shopping for something brand specific and nothing else. To find these items, he must walk by several stores, glancing at their window displays, and maybe even casually step inside a few for closer inspection. Even if he discovers that these stores don’t carry his particular brand, he might still see a few shirts or slacks that strike his fancy. Remember, though: he’s there for one thing and one thing only. A sales associate could hand him a helpful coupon or fill him in on a great deal, but he’s just not interested in anything other than a very specific set of threads. Therefore, he keeps moving until he finds exactly what he’s looking for. (Ol’ Bob is a bit stubborn when it comes to his wardrobe.)  

On the flip side, let’s say Bob has a friend. We’ll call this friend “Carl.” Carl heads to the mall with similar intentions as his buddy Bob, but he’s not necessarily fixated on any specific brand. Instead, he’s willing to find any combination of new outfits at any store with the best deals. He’s happy to explore his options, and after perusing a few shops, he finally happens upon a couple of great shirts (and maybe a few pairs of shoes ─ Carl and I have similar shopping styles. I like Carl.) As he walks toward the dressing room, he sees some ties that he thinks will go well with his new shirts. So, he grabs those as well and heads on in to try on the new ensemble. While waiting, the dressing room attendant asks for Carl’s name, size, and preferred styles. He also politely asks about some of his other interests while waiting ─ fostering a casual relationship and helping to endear Carl to the store.  

So, what does this have to do with “quality leads”? Good question. If you stuck along with me and played pretend, we realize two things: 

  1. Bob isn’t a hot lead. He’s not interested in sales or coupons and probably won’t return to the store, since they don’t have precisely what he was looking for in that moment on that day. He was in and out of the store in less than a minute and ended up finding what he was looking for elsewhere shortly after. This is essentially the same as someone visiting your website, completing a form to receive an ebook, and then realizing that you don’t provide the service they were looking for. No amount of follow-up will change this fact.
  2. Carl, on the other hand, is a hot lead. He’s exploring the store, trying things on, making relationships, and finding items that he’s interested in throughout his shopping experience. Carl is on fire. His situation is similar to someone visiting your site, engaging with your content, providing detailed information on a form, and perusing several webpages for minutes at a time. Carl might even give your office a call to learn more about how you can help! If nothing else, don’t give up on Carl; he’s clearly interested. 

You can discover a lot about a contact by evaluating their behaviors. Here at LaFleur, we use intuitive software and best practices to manage our contact list. Keep reading to learn how we judge the quality of our leads ─ internally and on behalf of our clients. 

RELATED: The Importance of Lead Tracking Within Legal Marketing 

Key Indicators of a Quality Lead

When it comes to determining the quality level of a new lead, there are three primary components to keep in mind.  

  1. Read the Tea Leaves: If someone has filled out a form on your website and given additional information such as a description, their phone number, or another form field that wasn’t required, this could mean they’re hoping for a rapid response, which indicates they are interested in hearing from you sooner. Most tools allow you to prioritize which fields are most important to you and your company. This way, you can increase your response time while also automatically scoring leads. It’s usually best to limit the number of fields to garner the most interaction. Keep required fields to a name, number, and email address wherever possible. A description or question box can also be helpful, but make sure that’s an optional field.
  2. Review Previous InteractionsIf the person on your list you’re evaluating has interacted with your business for quite some time, also known as a long “life of the lead,” you likely have quite the track record of how they’ve been connecting with your digital properties and content. Keep an eye on clients who have been poking around your site, and track their activity. You should be able to gauge their level of interest based on the pages and sections they’re visiting. When the time comes, try giving them another call or placing them in your re-engagement email list.
  3. Interpret Their BehaviorSo which webpages are your users visiting? How long are they spending on each page? What is their bounce rate? Are they opening your emails? If so, what is the click-thru-rate? Are you conducting A/B testing to determine which methods are attracting the best leads? If the answers to the questions above are strong overall and new clients are scheduling appointments based on their online experience, the problem isn’t with your content, subject lines, etc. The problem is with the potential lead. They’re simply either not interested or have moved on. You should too. Remove them from you list and focus on your hot leads. 

Cleaning Your Email List

In some cases, ineffective email practices can lead to being suspended from your email platform or even having your email domain blacklisted. There are a lot of reasons why your email efforts might be marked as spam, suffering from a high bounce rate, yielding an unusually high number of unsubscribes, or just falling short in general.  

Perhaps you: 

  • Purchased a massive list of ice cold leads rather than building your own based on actual interactions. 
  • Failed to get their permission before adding them to your drip campaign.  
  • Offered an irrelevant prize in a social campaign or contest. 
  • Created pre-set checkboxes or used other disingenuous methods to build your list. 

Whatever the reason, you don’t have to live with your previous mistakes. Instead, you can choose to clean your email contact list and move forward with potential clients or consumers who are further down the sales funnel. There are many ways to go about this, but we’ve found that the best way to clean a list is with a proactive approach that eliminates uninterested contacts and inspires existing active ones. Here are a few methods we’ve found the most effective. 

  • Be brutally honest with yourself. No one likes to shrink their list after working so hard to build it in the first place, but if a contact is only bringing you down, you need to let them go.  
  • Either reconsolidate segmented lists that you aren’t using or eliminate them, especially if the contacts are also placed on more active, successful lists.  
  • Clear all invalid email addresses. 
  • If the metrics show that contacts with whom you’ve had success in the past are now disengaged, place them in a re-engagement campaign or reach out to them directly to see if they’ve updated their contact information. 
  • Reach out to contacts with “Role Addresses” (e.g., [email protected]) to request specific names, numbers, and addresses. 
  • Re-check your email contacts for typos or misspellings. It’s possible that your bounce and spam rates are sky high simply because of seemingly minor human error. 
  • Create re-engagement campaigns for inactive leads offering a promotion. If these are ineffective, eliminate these leads from your list.  
  • Create surveys to receive feedback from active clients and incorporate their responses into your email activity.  
  • You can also use surveys to segment active contacts who might be looking for unique products or services. From there, create new drip campaigns that are more specific and, therefore, more effective. 

Most importantly, remember that cleaning your list isn’t just about eliminating email addresses that aren’t engaging. Instead, the goal should be to salvage those leads through surveys, re-engagement campaigns, and direct personal contact. If you don’t take the time to resuscitate your list now, you’ll continue to see it dwindle in the future. Scrub and tidy at regular intervals, but don’t purge without undertaking a deep clean first. 

RELATED: Sowing the Seeds: Grow Your Law Firm’s Business with Marketing Automation  

Contact LaFleur for All Your Marketing Needs

Regardless of the products or services you offer, if you’re having trouble growing, maintaining, or leveraging an effective list of marketing contacts, we are here to help. Our diverse team of marketing professionals has decades of experience helping companies achieve and exceed their goals. Internally, we utilize SalesForce to manage our email automation campaigns, but we have also used MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Sharp Spring in the past ─ depending on the client’s industry, budget, and preference, as well as our recommendation. 

We always practice what we preach, and the results speak for themselves. And if you need help with any other digital marketing initiatives ─ paid search, social media, content development, web builds, branding, etc. ─ please reach out today. LaFleur is a holistic agency that is capable of generating excellent return on investment for every business model with every marketing tactic. We’re also willing to diagnose your current marketing efforts and tell you the honest truth ─ even if that means pointing you in another direction.   

To learn more, please call us directly at (888) 222-1512 or complete the brief form on this webpage. Fair warning, though, we’ll definitely be sending you excellent content in the form of ebooks, infographics, and emails on a regular basis.  

RELATED: Email Marketing for Law Firms  


Bateman, S. (2017, August 28). Email marketing best practices: quality wins over quantity. Promise Media. Retrieved from 

Brownie., T. (2016, August 10). 5 signs of a quality marketing lead. SharpSpring. Retrieved from 

Sullivan, B. (2016, June 30). How to clean a messy contact list in 5 easy steps. Constant Contact. Retrieved from 

Chip Lafleur

Chip is an entrepreneur, organizational leader, and marketing expert who combines experience in web development, marketing tactics, strategy, and team leadership with a strong ability to harness talent and hone complex concepts into concrete deliverables.