Turning Leads Into Candidates

Upon Seeing a BellSouth.Net Email Address

Eli Robinson
Wednesday, December 17 2014

BellSouth Logo

Everyone has an email address. Ok. That’s not fair. But almost everyone has an email address. If my 88 year-old grandmother has one, then it’s safe to assume that almost everyone has one.

Not only does everyone have an account, but it seems that many people’s primary form of communication has also become email. A new form of communication only 20 years ago, it has blown past every other form of communication, especially telephone calls, in a way that few could’ve predicted.

As I’ve written about before, we know a lot about emails around here. I, alone, have sent nearly 23 million emails this year. If you include all the transactional emails that FranchiseHelp has sent out, our company has probably sent out over 30 million emails this year.

Unsurprisingly, we tie every piece of information about leads back to their email address. We call it our unique identifier.


Anyway, earlier this morning, I came across a potential franchisee that really got me thinking about the intersection of franchise lead generation and email service providers. Rather than reveal her identity, I’ll just let you know that she had an email address that ended in “@bellsouth.net.”

Sample ISPs that also are ESPs

After chuckling and remembering back to the days when people’s emails were provided by their internet service providers (AOL, Verizon, Comcast, BellSouth, etc.), it got me thinking about what this person’s email service provider told me about them.

The fact of the matter is that Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft account for the vast majority of emails out there, both for FranchiseHelp and the world.

But back to the potential franchisee from this morning. I realized that, from that very small piece of information (her ESP), I am able to infer a heck of a lot about who she is. Here are the conclusions that I have come to, from most confident to least confident:

  1. This isn’t her work email account – I’ve never heard of a company using Bell South, so it’s safe to assume this is her personal account.

  2. She hasn't changed email providers in a long time – Bellsouth.net hasn’t been a popular choice as an email service provider in a very long time. The number of new accounts they have created every years is probably on the order of thousands while Gmail may be in the hundreds of millions. (Side note: It turns out that BellSouth was acquired by AT&T in 2006, so the brand hasn't even existed in almost a decade.)

  3. Middle Aged Woman Using Computer

    She is older – I am 26 years old. I would say my peer group extends from people aged 18 to people age 35. I know a grand total of 0 people who use a bellsouth.net email address. I would be willing to bet quite a bit that this woman is at least 45 years old.

  4. She’s more interested in speaking on the phone compared to corresponding via email – Because Bell South hasn’t focused on email in a long time, their user experience is fairly sub-optimal relative to other options out there. If this woman were truly a power e-mailer, she would’ve made a switch already from BellSouth. I’m guessing email isn’t really her primary form of communication.

  5. She has money to invest – Now we’re getting a little more tenuous, but the fact that she uses a BellSouth email address, means that she would have paid for internet through Bell South a long time ago. I’m not going to go as far as to call her an early adopter, but the fact that she was paying for internet through BellSouth a while ago means that she had the means to do it. Back then, the internet was more of a luxury than a necessity as the internet adoption rate wasn’t nearly as high as it is now.

  6. She’d make an excellent franchise lead – So if you add all of this together, the profile that we’ve built is an older woman, using her personal email account, desiring to speak on the phone about franchising, and having money to invest. Sounds like exactly who a lot of our franchisors are looking to speak to.

The flip side of this coin is obviously that this woman isn’t likely the most “tech-forward” person out there. But most franchisees aren’t either.

Unfortunately for us, the number of BellSouth email users (as a % of total users) goes down every day. When you do see one, however, know that you may have a winner on your hands!

If you want to learn more about what someone’s email address can tell you, let’s chat!