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Why Buying Email Lists is Never a Good Idea

Whether you’re just establishing your business, or looking to recharge your marketing, you may be tempted to try buying email lists. Let’s just be direct and say it: this is a colossally bad idea for several reasons. There is zero upside.

It’s a short-sighted strategy that can become costly in the end. We all want the largest email list possible, but there’s something to be said for communicating with high-quality subscribers that have more potential to take action on your marketing efforts. This won’t be the case with a purchased list.

Below are the reasons you’ll want to steer clear of this strategy.

The Good Emails Aren’t for Sale

Any email that’s landed on a purchased list probably has an inbox stuffed to the gills in spam. Even if the owner of this address were still checking his or her emails (they may very well have deserted it a LONG time ago), chances are your uninvited offer is about as appealing to them as last night’s liver and onion leftovers. Even if you’re a highly skilled writer, this is likely a hole you’re not going to overcome.

The best, most valuable emails for your business are the ones that opted in through one of your email sign up forms. More on that below.

You’re Violating GDPR

With the GDPR laws in Europe, you must now have explicit consent from your subscribers to be sending them emails. This means that when you have an opt-in form on your website, the checkbox must not be already checked. The subscriber must do that. Obviously, when you buy a list the people on that list haven’t even seen the form, much less given you the needed consent.

So sending emails to a purchased list is a GDPR violation, which can land American companies in trouble, too.

Chances Are Your Email Services Provider Won’t Let You Send

You may run into some complications before you’re even able to violate GDPR by sending these emails. If you’re using a reputable email service provider, chances are they’re not going to let you send emails to a bought list. If your email service provider does allow it, you may end up paying for it in poor deliverability rates. If one person on a shared server gets their list by purchase, it can impact the deliverability of everyone else on that server. If potentially violating privacy laws isn't enough, the fact that it's this difficult to even send an email should be a key reason buying email lists is a bad idea. 

The Contacts On Your List Don’t Know You Or Your Business

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the emails you purchased were from some kind of reputable list. They still don’t know you. These are not people that have been to your website or are in any way familiar with your business. Because they never opted in for your marketing, if they see your messages, they are still uninviting and will likely be viewed as intrusive.

You Risk Harming IP Reputation

Sending emails to a purchased list can harm your IP reputation. When this happens any email you send may be flagged as spam. This could include customer service or other routine exchanges with customers and clients. A low IP reputation can really damage trust and the image of your brand. Is buying email lists really worth risking the ability to communicate with your customers at all? We don't think so. 

Some Practices You Can Do Instead

The better approach to email marketing would be to grow your list organically. When someone visits your website you can ask them to fill out a form and provide their email address in exchange for something of value. This could be a resource such as an ebook, checklist, or free course. It could also be in exchange for a special offer.

When someone purchases from you, it’s also an opportune time to collect their email and start them in on your email sequences. It also helps to be sending out as many informative and entertaining emails as you can. People will forward them to friends and colleagues if they deem them as valuable.

When it comes to email marketing, the bottom line is to understand that no emails are going to be as valuable and useful to you as the ones that sign up through your website. Those are the people that are already motivated to do business with you. Anything short of that can be risky and not worth your time.

Hire a Digital Marketing Agency to Run Your Email Campaigns

From growing an organic mailing list to understanding the laws, email marketing can be complicated. At VisionFriendly.com our team of email marketers has years of experience helping our clients develop successful email marketing strategies. Would you like to talk with us about your next project? Contact us today!

About the Author:

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VisionFriendly.com is a Chicago digital marketing agency with over 25 years of experience helping clients nationwide. We have an in-house team of marketers and creatives ready to improve your business’s marketing operations.

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