Leads With Generic Email Addresses: Should They Be Tossed?

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Dear Kara,

Not too sure about some of the leads we’ve been getting through our pay-per-click advertising channels. In my experience, leads ending in gmail.com, hotmail.com, and yahoo.com are junk. We usually just toss these leads instead of wasting our sales team’s time following up. What is your experience with this? Why would a serious business look for software with their personal email account?

A Skepticleads generic email be tossed

Dear Skeptic,

You’ve got it all wrong! In our 10+ years of experience with software buyers, we’ve found that a good percentage of buyers actually prefer to use their personal account when looking for software. Here are some of the reasons leads with generic email leads can still be great leads:

  1. Your prospect is a consultant. On average, 5-10% of software requests received by Capterra are placed by consultants. They’re tasked with finding software options for an organization and, unless the consultant is working in-house, they’re rarely supplied a company email address for the search.
  2. This isn’t the prospect’s regular job. Not every company is willing, or able, to contract out their software search. Often times, the person tasked with initial search efforts is someone who knows the organization’s processes, pain points, and budget limitations. And they’re requesting information, software trials, and demos during their “free” time. Since they’re more inclined to respond to those emails after work hours, they use their personal account.
  3. Your prospect works at a start-up. A company that is just starting out may not have a company email address to supply. More often than not, these leads are small. Small, but looking for software.
  4. Your prospect wants to keep his company name a secret. People who work for larger corporations are used to being hounded by salesmen. Let’s face it, once a big name prospect enters your sales funnel, your team can be pretty persistent. I know ours was when we received requests from Walmart, Whole Foods, Coca Cola, and Warner Bros. And that’s exactly why they don’t want to reveal that information right away.

So, my skeptical friend, don’t toss out leads that supply generic emails! You’re only limiting your sales opportunities. Of course, I’m not saying that every generic email address is a winner. But neither are the ones you consider “legit,” right?

Looking at a sample set, 14 of 100 Learning Management System (LMS) software requests submitted email addresses ending in “gmail.com”. And two of those resulted in verified leads for our LMS clients. That’s a double digit conversion rate!

Your marketing database is full of prospects from all stages of your sales funnel. What is the harm in adding additional emails to the list? Put those generic email leads into your automated lead nurture system for your leads and see what happens. In the words of Wayne Gretzky, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.


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About the Author


Kara Dawson

As a Marketing Advisor at Capterra, Kara serves as an outside marketing consultant for nearly 300 of our B2B software companies.


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