Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Allow personal email addresses or not?

We currently have our forms setup to error when a lead tries to submit a gmail, yahoo etc.

The leads that have come in that way are generally low quality, but I think that may be a short-term view and there may be some long term benefits.

We focus on enterprise customers as well so that is part of it.

What are you doing in your org?

*I would make a poll, but I think that feature is disabled now

Level 10 - Community Moderator

Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

Well, my short take's likely clear from past posts on this: I'm not persuaded that prohibiting what are often erroneously called "personal" addresses is useful. Our clients include enterprise software houses, B2B financial services, high-end B2B consultancies -- and none of them block large webmail domains, since that's not enough evidence that someone is a weak lead.

My longer take:

As an enterprise software buyer myself, I often do software evals with my Gmail account. This protects my own privacy and my clients' privacy and doesn't make my interest any less serious. If someone demands a "business" address, I of course understand why they're doing it, but I also, to put it informally, think they're lame. Might still fill out the form with my own business address if the product is otherwise promising, but then they'll just fetch firmographics for our consulting firm, which is no more relevant to the deal than Alphabet, Inc.'s financials!

Suggesting that the lead supply a business address, IMO, is reasonable, if the copy shows you get it -- something like "We know you don't want us tracking you down at the office. But to make sure our emails don't get lost among your weekend plans and forwarded memes, please provide your business address."

On the SMB side, millions of people operate real businesses from free webmail addresses. We may wish they didn't, but it's silly to turn away or

Also, disposable addresses are different, and I've contributed JS that shows how to use centrally managed freemail-disposable list to block those domains. Such leads are likely to be trying to get your content and never be contacted again. (Naturally, a secondary Gmail address can be used for the same purpose, but you'll never know.)

But in the end, it's going to be a case-by-case thing. The only way you can know for (relatively) sure is if you allow the leads into your company's db and do some thorough metrics later. Get one 100MM deal from an address -- this has happened at a major medical tech company we work for -- and that'll probably be enough. Absolutely zero wins from webmail over the course of a year or two can be a good reason to try blocking. Yet you also should have some way of finding those people that tried with Gmail and then changed their address as required (you can add a hidden field to the form for this) and a way of finding abandoned forms (this would have to be via GA or other anonymous analytics).

Finally, remember that if you block known webmail domains on your form, yet still let people download your content without at least validating that the mailbox exists, you're leaving a gap. What's the bigger problem at your company: leads that can't be contacted at all, leads that receive mail but never engage, or leads with webmail addresses?

Level 7

Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

Great question for discussion Darrell.

I'll echo what Sanford said - it's going to be a case-by-case thing for your org or client. I've been at companies that sold to enterprises, but we allowed personal addresses because those leads converted to revenue.

A tactic that yielded results: on the forms, we labeled the field 'Business Email', although we still took personal addresses. We tested this wording, and found that labeling the field 'Business Email' instead of 'Email' did not negatively impact conversions, and we lowered our rate of personal email address submissions.


Level 8

Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

I agree with the other comments but I'll play a little devil's advocate and give the opinion of one of my client's who limits leads in an extreme way and is very successful with it. They had found prior to this that they were wasting a lot of resources (sales) with weak leads who couldn't end up buying and was costing money. This client now needs a biz email so they can validate the company through external means before ever letting someone in. They want to prove 8 figures in company revenue before they will engage. So I do believe that there are situations where it is valid in niche instances but, for most people, I will talk to anyone that I can get in my system. I can only imagine what people who are still buying email lists are thinking when we talk about blacklisting personal emails accounts.

Level 6 - Champion Alumni

Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

We allow them for now. We also have a database intern who goes through and looks at them periodically to see the cleanliness of the data. I think it depends on your business and audience. For example, we have a lot of retail and food service audience leads. If it is a franchise - they will be using personal email addresses because they are not corporate owned. I think doing audits of your personal email address domains and really thinking about your scope of audience helps.

At a previous company - we did some sample campaigns of sending to personal email domains and checking engagement with the content to see if these leads are active and engaged in our content.

Level 2

Re: Allow personal email addresses or not?

I think a lot of people on this thread nailed it.  It depends.

We actually allow the gmail/yahoo address because of the nature of our target demographic and client base.  I agree that leads that come in this way have the potential to be lower in quality if you're targeting enterprise accounts but I think that's where forms and behavioral lead scoring will come into play.

We market to medical organizations so on our forms, we have a question set up with visibility rules set up that asks whether they are affiliated with one and if so, which one.  If they choose the option that says they're not affiliated with a medical organization, this creates an alert for our marketing associates to go through and vetting process before it is passed along to our sales team.