Have you ever heard this come up in conversations about growth?

“Sure, we could grow a big email list. But how many of those subscribers are likely to become customers?”

When you’re in growth mode, you want new users and customers. That means when it comes to email, it’s tempting to grow a list of qualifiable leads and ONLY qualifiable leads.

Anyone else gets labeled a “dud.”

But that mindset can hinder your growth efforts.

And because most people who would download an ebook or read a blog post are “duds,” some brands struggle to justify spending time, effort, and funds on growing a huge email list.

However, those dud leads can do a lot of good for you—even if they’ll never buy from you.

In fact, here are 10 ways I’ve seen dud leads help companies grow.

1. Dud leads are an SEO secret weapon

A 2017 SEMrush study confirmed something we’ve suspected for a long time: the more people visit your content, the better it tends to perform in Google.

In other words: If you want more people to find your content on Google, show it to a lot of other people first.

That’s because if more people know that your content exists, then more people will share it. More people will link to it from their own sites. More people will email it to their colleagues. (All great things for you aside from the SEO benefits, by the way!)

Email is a reliable way of doing this. And the bigger your list is, the more people you can send to your content.

It’s kind of like whacking a piñata.

That piñata is full of sweet, SEO candy. All you have to do is whack it open with some traffic.

Your email list is like a bat. The bigger your bat is, the quicker that candy will tumble out.

You can see how dud leads come in handy here. Getting 100,000 “low-quality” leads to visit a new post is going to help you a lot more than sending 100 qualified leads to do the same. That’s because you have 99,900 more people who can choose to share, comment, link to, or otherwise fall in love with your content.

Takeaway: Even if they’re not qualified leads, a leveraging a big email list can help relevant content rank in search engines.

So build a bigger list.

2. Your brand gets big bragging rights

You have a few hundred users? That’s better than 199, but not all that impressive to decision-makers.

But what if you could say that 300,000 people see you as an authority in your space?

That’s what CB Insights does.low-quality-leads

A big email list gives you some pretty strong bragging rights—and that can help you in the revenue department for two big reasons:

  1. It shows decision-makers you know what you’re talking about. Tens of thousands of people want to hear from you on a topic—surely some of that brilliant expertise is reflected in your product, right?
  2. It lowers the perceived risk. When you show that lots of people are already on board with your brand, it’s easier for newcomers to warm up to you.

Not everyone on your list needs to be a qualified lead for this to work. They just need to be in your space.

For example, if you want to sell HR software to VPs of human resources, you’ll benefit from saying, “80,000 HR professionals get hiring tips from us.” They don’t all have to be VPs for the newsletter to be relevant—but saying this will get more HR execs to take you seriously.

Dud leads are helpful here. In the above example, it might be that there are only 5,000 qualified HR executives in the world who would be a good fit for your business. But your market doesn’t know that. They just want an HR software solution that’s reputable in the space. Those “dud leads” might be just the bait you need to catch the qualified leads.

3. FOMO* is your friend.

Nobody’s impressed by an email newsletter of only 2,000.

In fact, I assume that a small email newsletter probably isn’t valuable. If it were, more people would read it, right?

But when I see that 60,000 digital marketers are subscribed to a newsletter, a few things go through my mind:

  1. What articles are these subscribers finding that I’m not?
  2. What knowledge bombs are they dropping that I can’t?
  3. How many of them are my competitors? ARE THEY OUT-LEARNING ME?

Growing a list of dud leads can still help you find great leads, simply by inducing that fear of missing out.

* FOMO = “Fear of Missing Out.” You already knew that, but my mom might read this and I gotta help her out. She’s a nice lady.

4. It’s a market research goldmine

It’s one thing to have a good idea. It’s another thing to do the work to find out how thousands of people in your market approach their problems.

If you have a huge list, you can do some of your own research—which you can use to generate some sweet, sweet publicity.

For example, let’s say your company makes a personal finance app. You want to know how what kinds of life events people in your market are holding off on until they pay off their student loans.

You have a few guesses—some people must be postponing a proposal, a wedding, having a child, or buying a house. But hunches don’t have the viral effect that actual stats do. Everyone knows student debt gets in the way of having kids. But they don’t know the numbers behind it.

If you had an email list of 100,000 people, you could ask them all, get the results, and publish what you learn. It doesn’t have to be super-scientific. You can say, “Out of 20,000 respondents, 39% of people said student debt is preventing them from adopting a dog.” It’s not a Pew Research report, but it’s better than a hunch (and it will get some attention).

Dud leads are super helpful here. You don’t need bottom-of-funnel, sales-qualified people for the research to be good. You just need a big slice of your market willing to answer some questions.

5. Your social conversations get livelier

It’s common to hear speakers describe social media marketing as a party.

The problem: it takes a while to build a community organically on social media. And nobody likes to show up at a party on time, only to wait awkwardly for the cool people to show up.

The solution: bring a starter community with you. A big email list can help you go from an empty room to a full house on a given social network in no time.

For example, if you want more people to see your Facebook posts, you could pay to promote your page. Or, you could tell your email list to go like your page. Boom: a segment of your audience has just doubled the channels by which you can reach them.

Let’s try another example. Suppose you want to build your CEO’s following on Quora. Why start building that new audience from scratch? If you have a big list of people in your space, odds are some of them are already there. You can shoot an email to your list, asking them to follow your CEO and comment on her latest post. Depending on the size of your list, you can go from zero followers to a sizeable following in one swoop.

You get the idea. The key to social media marketing is to be sociable. A hefty list of people in your space can help you do this across social networks—whether or not they’re ready to talk to anyone on your sales team.

6. A big list is a product validation playground

Thinking of expanding your product offering?

Curious if adding a new feature would be a dealmaker?

Considering a wildly new business model?

Validating product ideas is tricky. But it’s easier to do if you have a direct line to a decent chunk of the market. A huge email list is a valuable tool for conducting surveys, getting feedback, and securing pre-orders. If you can validate (or invalidate) a new idea with a slice of your market before you execute, you’re in a really good place.

7. You open the door to more partnerships

Partnerships are where brands can make huge strides forward. When you find a noncompeting brand that’s reaching your market, it’s often a good move to find ways to cross-promote each other.

Having a large email list makes these conversations a lot easier to start. That’s because the other company is far more interested in being promoted to 150,000 people in your space than they are in being promoted to 15,000 app users.

Obviously, there’s more to partnership-building than, “My what a big email list you have!” But having an enormous (and responsive) list doesn’t hurt your chances.

8. Duds talk to non-duds

I’ve been a dud lead in Marketo’s database for a long time.

I’ve been a dud lead on InvisionApp’s email list for a while, too.

But I’ve referred plenty of people to these solutions because I may be a dud, but I work with non-duds.

Remember: a dud lead may never buy from you. But they’re paying attention to you for some reason. And if you’re keeping that dud engaged, your brand will jump to mind when that dud is talking to a non-dud about the problems your company solves.

9. Personalization takes big numbers

People like getting messages specific to them.

That’s common knowledge. But there’s a big reason not every marketing department is pumping out hyper-personalized messages to various subsegments of their lists: they don’t want to waste time.

If you’re working with a list of 10,000 leads, then you don’t have a lot of ways to reasonably slice and dice that list. Customizing by time zone, state, role, company size, etc. starts feeling tedious when those segments are less than a thousand people apiece.

But if you have a larger list of people, your marketing team can create larger, more meaningful segments. This allows you to develop important things like segment-specific messaging, automation, lead qualification for different personas, and more.

10. The line between dud and non-dud is out of your hands

You can shoot all the webinars you want.

You can offer all the limited-time promotional discounts you want.

You can nurture all you want.

But even if a subscriber absolutely LOVES your product, the reason they don’t want to talk to sales may be beyond your control. Their boss hates them. There’s not enough room in the budget. The IT infrastructure just can’t support it. The company is going through a re-org.

It could be anything stopping them—but no matter how high their lead score gets, you won’t get them to buy.

You have to wait until they have the go-ahead. They need to get a promotion—or a new job altogether. Or maybe their business needs to grow before they can commit to buying from you.

But when they clear those hurdles—don’t you want to already have their attention?

What do you stand to lose?