We all know how important email lists are. They’re the foundation of a successful email marketing strategy, and without really good mailing lists, your next email campaign is not going to be as successful as it could be.
If you’re just starting up, or branching into a new product line or market, chances are that your email list is not as large and comprehensive as you’d like it to be. You know that successful email marketing requires email addresses, and at the moment you don’t have that many. You look around, and you see offers from all sorts of shady characters who’d like you to purchase email lists from them.
Don’t do it!
|Immediate access to newsletter subscribers||Very difficult to stay legally compliant|
|Lots of new contacts at once||Can lead to delivery problems|
|Low prices per subscriber||Relevance for your subscribers is not guaranteed|
|Includes some more data for segmenting the list||High levels of missing data and/or false information|
Despite how tempting it might seem at first, buying email lists is always a bad, bad idea!
There are lots of reasons for this. At least six of them, actually. First, it’s probably against local regulations and laws to send unsolicited messages to people who haven’t signed up for your newsletter; buying mailing lists doesn’t work very well; doing so will tarnish your company’s brand; the best and most effective email vendors won’t let you use mailing lists that you’ve purchased; if you purchase mailing lists, you’ll harm your IP’s reputation even for legitimate newsletters; and the best email address lists aren’t for sale.
It’s not illegal to buy email lists, but it is illegal to use those lists to send marketing messages to individuals who haven’t explicitly agreed to receive them from you. In most jurisdictions, direct marketers are required to receive the explicit consent from individuals before sending marketing material. If you decide to purchase mailing lists, even if the seller says that this has happened, you can’t be sure.
In the world of email marketing, businesses use what’s called the double opt-in registration process to create mailing lists. Subscribers enter their information in an online form and click submit. They’re immediately sent a confirmation email with a unique link.
Clicking on the link confirms the address. If you buy email lists, you can never be sure that all of the email addresses on the list have gone through this process. Sending marketing materials, in that case, is against the law and can lead to hefty fines.
The key to successful marketing is relevance. The only way to stand out from the crowded field these days is to send emails to your subscribers that contain useful content geared towards their specific interests. If you decided to purchase email lists, you can’t be sure that you know anything at all about the people you’re sending messages to.
Not knowing anything about your contacts means that it isn’t possible to send relevant newsletters. By deciding to buy mailing lists, you’ve got to trust that all of the relevant details are accurate. But in reality, there’s no way you can know.
If you purchase email lists, you’re essentially sending messages to strangers. All the advantages of email marketing, including automation tools, go to waste. The mailing list that you’ve bought just isn’t as useful as creating the mailing list on your own.
Nobody likes receiving emails that they don’t want – even from sources that they know and trust. Receiving emails from a company they don’t recognize, or a newsletter that they haven’t signed up to receive, is even worse.
If you purchase mailing lists, many of the individuals on the list don’t know who you are. If they start receiving mail from you one day, they’ll associate your company and brand with unwanted, spammy emails.
For larger brands, the decision to purchase email lists can have even more negative consequences. It takes a long time to build up a brand, and just one dumb mistake to really damage it. Email address lists are one of the most precious resources that marketers have. Deciding to buy an email list might be tempting, but it can lead to a lot more trouble than it’s worth.
The best email vendors (Ahem) don’t let you use lists that you’ve purchased. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, email vendors don’t want to help spammers. Purchasing email lists is something that a lot of spammers to do, and legitimate email marketing providers don’t want to help spammers in any way, shape or form.
Buying mailing lists also threatens to lower the technical IP reputation of the email vendor. If an email vendor becomes known as a company that allows its customers to buy mailing lists, then the delivery rates for that company’s emails could be negatively impacted.
If you purchase mailing lists, then, you’ll end up using a newsletter tool that isn’t very good. You’d be starting out on the wrong foot with your digital marketing efforts, at a distinct technological and competitive disadvantage to other digital marketers who did the right thing and decided not to buy email lists.
As mentioned before, sending spammy emails can harm the reputation of the IP that you use to send your email newsletters. If you buy mailing lists and use the addresses to send newsletters, spam filters will not only flag the messages themselves, but will flag the servers that you’re using to send the messages. This means that even if you send emails using legitimate contact lists, these emails are less likely to be delivered.
Even more harmful, if you buy email lists and send unwanted messages, your company itself will be flagged as suspicious. This means that even if you stop using these lists, and decide to build your own legitimate lists, spam filters will remember you and your company.
This will have a negative impact on your delivery rates. Deciding to purchase mailing lists, in other words, affects your marketing efforts both today and in the future.
The best way to build email contact lists is to do it yourself. Embed registration forms on your website, give users a chance to subscribe during the checkout process, or ask your social media followers to sign up for emails. Think about it: why buy mailing lists from strangers, who have no idea who you are or what your business needs?
It’s much better to start from scratch, and build your list the right way from the very beginning. This means that you’ll have fewer subscribers at the outset, but you’ll more than make up for it in the quality of your subscribers.
You can be confident that once you start creating newsletters, fewer people will unsubscribe, fewer people will flag your newsletters as spam, and you’ll be able to build a connection with your subscribers in a meaningful, sustainable way.