16 Mar Is Collecting leads online legit?
Is Collecting leads online legal?
There has been a lot of talk about privacy and rights in the last couple of years, so it is natural to consider whether or not it is still legal to collect and user leads online.
We will help you answer this question and much more in this article.
Pros and cons argument for collecting leads online
The core pro-argument for web scraping has always been that the information you find on a website is publicly accessible. Anyone can collect this data if they want to – by hand, simply by copying the HTML code and saving the content you need.
The two approaches
The only difference between doing the collection by hand and using a web scraper is that the scraper has automated the task for you to get more data faster.
The counterargument has always been that the publisher of the content has the right to the content that he published on his site, and therefore others should not be allowed to collect it.
The high-level findings have always leaned toward the free access to information argument, which is why web scarping has remained a legal activity.
The grey zones
However, there are grey zones. Some web scrapes/bots conduct harmful activities like simulating purchases on an e-commerce or hotel booking site with the purpose of understanding a competitor’s business, product availabilities ext.
Such bots are more critical in their legality. But one could argue that they are not web scrapes as such since their purpose is to actively interact with the underlying business of the website.
These kinds of bots are not the purpose of the article’s scope.
Social media and web scraping
There is also an ongoing discussion on if it is legal to extract data from Social media accounts. More specifically, the names of the users.
The grey zone of collecting leads from social media
Here we are in a grey zone. Some of the information from social media is available without logging into platforms. This means that the public access argument, as discussed before, becomes a strong case for allowing web scraping of such information.
The privacy issue
When it comes to privacy concerns for the users who have published profiles on social media, then there has just been a ruling that you must expect that whatever you post on social media will become publicly available, so there is no concern for the users that can dictate that they should not be allowed to scrape their data.
So the safe zone when it comes to social media is to collect data from pages and profiles that do not require log-in.
If you are interested in tools that can help you do so, then you should look into Lusha or ProspectIn. Such tools can help you collect leads online and enrich the contact information with lead phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
How do you collect leads online?
The easiest part of the process is properly collecting the leads. There are many different tools available that can help you do so. Kaddara is a one-click tool that lets you choose between hundreds of lead sources. There are also other tools that are more workflow-oriented. They let you collect tools in a pretty advanced way. However, most of them require some knowledge of coding. You can see the different options in this article.
Other options include getting a consultancy company to collect the data for you, or paying developers to build a bespoke web scraper for you.
How can you use leads that are collected online?
When you have collected leads online, it matters what kind of leads you are colling. The way you can handle B2B or B2C leads is very different. B2B should be treated as professional business relation and this giver you broader rights to use them than B2C leads.
GDPR and CCPA
Both B2B and B2C leads are governed by GDPR and the CCPA act. GDPR is European, and CCPA is from California. Since many businesses operate globally and since it will be difficult to segment users from Europa and California out of our business processes in a way where you can handle them differently. It means that you will have to comply with both acts when handling your online leads.
Neither of the regulations governs the act of collecting leads online. But they do govern how you manage data from persons and businesses. But you could just as well.
We will now let you know how the legal aspect of how you manage the leads that you have collected differs depending on their user profile.
How to work with B2B leads
There are three elements that you need to be aware of when you work with b2b leads that are collected online:
The below applies when you e-mail the leads.
- The recipients must be a specific individuals in a business. This person must be in a position where he would be better off using your product or service.
- You must give the e-mail recipient the option to opt-out of getting more e-mails from you, and you must inform them why you have their contact information
- You cannot keep their data in your business system permanently. There are no fixed rules, but a rule of thumb says that one month is an appropriate timespan.
The rules for Cold calling are basically the same.
You should ask for permission to keep their data if you do not engage in further dialog right now. Precisely as with e-mail, you cannot keep the contact information permanently.
How to work with B2C leads
The regulations for b2c contact are much more strict. You are only allowed to contact b2c users and to keep their data if you can prove that they have given consent for you to do so.
This will never be the case if you have got their information via a web scraping service since they would not know that you have collected their data, and it could very well be that they have no knowledge of your existence.
Limit in the B2C space
These regulations limit what you can do in the b2c space to very few things. If your business operates outside Europe and the US and if you are sure that the leads you collect are not European or US citizens or people who reside in Europe or the US, then you can contact them via e-mails that you have collected via online web scraping. Of course, you have to make sure that other regulations from other countries or territories apply to them.
In reality, this will be very difficult for you to prove since sub-segments of any nationality resides in both European countries and in the US.
Please also note that the rules apply to you holding the information, not how you contact them. So, it does not matter if you use the data for cold calling, e-mails, or as segments in your Google Ads.
You should also know that if you are non-compliant with the EU rules, then you risk paying quite hefty fines. The fine can be as much as 4% of your business global revenue or €20 – whichever is higher.
Conclusion – lead generation from online sources. What are your options?
So is collecting leads online legit? As with much else here in life, it depends on the situation.
About the author
Per Damgaard Husted wrote the article. Per is the CEO and founder of Kaddara. Per has more than 20 years of management experience and is also the author of the book “AI for CEOs“. The book identifies areas where AI can create new business for you. Cognifirm is an automation tool for managers and marketeers that automate manual tasks.
Kaddara has a lead collection feature that can help perform many of the tasks you have learned in this article. Features include one-click collection of leads from hundreds of different sources.