6 Reasons You Should Never Purchase an Email List (And What to Do Instead)

A well constructed email marketing campaign can work wonders for your business by building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. But before you can email prospective customers, you need a quality list to target. Buying an email list from a third party promising a boatload of new leads might seem like a quick win. However, there are some serious, negative consequences that come with purchased email lists. Read over these six drawbacks and decide for yourself whether the risks outweigh the benefits. (And don’t worry, we have alternatives for you!)

1. They are Generally Not Good Prospects 

The value of a purchased email list depends on how the seller collected the contacts. There are a few common methods where third-party vendors collect email addresses, which they then sell. 

  • They might collect event registration lists, particularly for trade shows or conferences in certain industries.
  • They can “crawl” websites and harvest email addresses that way.
  • Another method is to capture information through online surveys.
  • The most deceptive is using co-registration signup forms. When someone signs up for one company’s email list, they may agree — on purpose or inadvertently — to receive emails from third parties.

If you can imagine having your email collected in one of the above ways, you can see why you might not be eager for the emails you get as a result.

2. You’re Spamming People

If people have not opted in to your email list, you’re spamming them. List vendors may claim that they are selling you an “opt-in” list, however, they are usually making a general statement that the contact agreed to receive email communications at one point in time. This isn’t the same as opting-in to receive your email marketing.

When contacts don’t have any background about your organization and they don’t have a relationship with you, this increases the chances of unsubscribes and spam complaints, which recipients might even take public. People value their inbox and consider it a private place — don’t invade it!

3. You Will Hurt Your Open Rate

When most people see an unfamiliar sender in their inbox, they delete the message without even opening it. This reduces the overall effectiveness of your email marketing, including your open rate and click-through rate. The lower engagement you receive from an email, the more ISPs (like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook) will begin prioritizing other organization’s emails with higher engagement. This will hurt your engaged subscribers and could prevent them from receiving your content.

4. People May Not Receive Your Email at All

Most purchased email lists have outdated and incomplete information. Since you can’t guarantee the quality of the list you’re purchasing, you’ll likely have a higher than normal bounce rate. Here’s why that hurts you:

  • A bounce rate above 2% will damage your sender reputation, and you’ll begin to notice deliverability issues. In other words, your emails will begin getting sent directly to the junk folder.
  • Your purchased list may contain spam traps — email addresses used to help Internet Service Providers (ISPs) identify and flag untrustworthy senders.
  • Sending an unsolicited email will cause your email deliverability to decline — and you could eventually be blacklisted. Blacklisting occurs when your IP address or domain sees a high rate of spam complaints and prohibits your email from reaching the inbox

5. You Put Your ESP Contract at Risk

Reputable email service providers (ESPs) won’t allow you to send emails to a purchased list, and they generally maintain strong anti-spam policies. If they notice you’re receiving too many spam complaints, you can face account closure, fines, and legal action. For example, HubSpot explicitly states that “You may not email purchase lists” under the “Prohibited Email Actions” section in their Acceptable Use Policy

6. You Risk Breaking the Law

Depending on what or state or country you’re emailing, you must follow certain regulations, some of which are relatively new. 

For example, you’re sending emails in the EU, you need to pay attention to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation. When GDPR was implemented in 2018, the rules changed and subscribers must now actively consent and opt-in directly with the company using their data

If you’re sending emails in Canada, you need to pay attention to CASL, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation that requires expressed consent that is documented.

Various U.S. states, such as California with CCPA, already have or are in the process of creating their own internet privacy guidelines, some of which affect email marketing. With a purchased list, you can’t show proof of opt-in to your organization, which puts you at risk of non-compliance.

How to Grow Your Email List Organically

You may be left wondering how to get the word out about your product or service, using the powerful medium of email marketing, when you don’t have a lot of contacts on your list.

Inbound marketing lets potential customers come to you, voluntarily joining your email list out of genuine interest. Here are recommended inbound email marketing tactics:

  • Offer premium content or downloads in exchange for visitors’ email addresses.
  • Draw in subscribers by sharing valuable content on the right social media channels for your business
  • Add an email subscription form to your website and make it easy to find and share it on multiple pages.

Find an Email Marketing Partner to Grow Your List

The best way to grow your company email list is to work with a skilled digital marketing partner with expertise in the latest email tools and tactics. The right partner can also help show you how to improve your email marketing strategy and integrate it with other elements of your digital marketing. 

As your email list grows, make a good impression by providing valuable and timely content that will help nurture a prospect from lead to customer and eventually brand advocate!

Ready to get started with a powerful email marketing program? Contact Bayshore Solutions today.


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