5 Reasons to Never Buy Email Lists

With so many businesses looking to buy and sell their customer lists, it’s no wonder that direct marketing has gotten a bad wrap over the past few years.  While some of those lists that are being sold might advertise themselves as being an “opted-in list”, the reality is that they’re not. And even if a customer had opted-in to a vendor’s mailings, they have certainly not given their permission to you, so any emails they receive from you would be considered spam.

If you’re considering buying email lists, you might want to consider the following 5 reasons against any such idea:

  1. Spam Complaints. Remember that when you buy an email list, you aren’t getting the list exclusively.  Odds are that same list has been sold to multiple companies.  Because of that fact, there is a high chance that email recipients who suddenly get an influx of emails from a variety of vendors, will unsubscribe and even report the emails as spam. Receiving multiple spam reports will cause a spike in feedback loop reports and complaints which will give ISPs reason enough to be leery of future mailings coming from you.
  2. High Rate of Unknown Users. Email lists are always sold by quantity, so don’t expect quality to be there. Most of the time, vendors fabricate the true quality or nature of opt-in statuses on their lists. You will only be able to verify and guarantee that the subscriber is real and current if you use standard channels like web-form signups.
  3. ESP Violation. Use of rented or purchased lists are often prohibited by Email Service Providers. A violation of these policies will mean that the ESP could terminate your contract. It is important to review your ESP’s terms of violation for clarity before purchasing any email lists.
  4. Low Open Rate. ISPs these days are far more sophisticated in how they track user engagement when evaluating bulk mailings. Data measures have gone way beyond just the standard complaints, unsubscribes and bounces.  They now include behavioral stats like open rates and clicks. ISPs also measure the quality of your messages when scoring you and granting continued white label status, allowing you to send emails to your subscribers.
  5. Bad ROI. Keep in mind that email marketing is a business; therefore, there is a cost for every message sent. Hence, with each investment you expect a decent return. Purchased lists will have a seriously low response rate, meaning that your ROI goes down the drain and the bounces, spam flags and unopened deletes seriously damage your sending reputation.

So the next time you or anyone on your team suggests buying email lists, remember that quality will always trump quantity. Stick with best practices and the standard approaches of acquiring subscribers. Check out this article by Hubspot for additional information on the topic and for tips on how you can build your own lists, naturally.

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