Understanding Why Purchasing an Email List Is Never a Good Idea

by Victor Green
3 mins read

While email marketing offers up some serious returns for your investment, there’s also one truth that plenty of members of the community have a hard time facing: Email marketing requires a hefty amount of work in order to do things right. In an effort to trim down on the workload that goes into building a list, some brands seek out and purchase established contact lists. Unfortunately, buying a list of addresses is far from a good call. To help explain this point – and provide your organization with a more efficient and effective alternative approach to growing a list – let’s dig into the numerous perils that come with acquiring an already developed inbox audience.

Most Lists Aren’t High Quality

In order to properly explain why purchasing an email list is never a good idea, it’s important to impart one clear, concise fact about this process to you and the rest of the readers browsing this article – most lists for sale are bad. As Kate Harrison of Forbes magazine points out, there’s a reason that the owners of these lists generally aren’t too sad about letting such an asset walk out the front door. From poor open rates to an overabundance of abandoned addresses or spam accounts, the vast majority of purchased lists simply just don’t offer much.

Big Brother Doesn’t Condone This Activity

Additionally, Harrison goes on to explain that with the advent of tighter regulations and guidelines, the officials behind CASL enforcement and other spam-fighting groups aren’t exactly thrilled with this practice. The problem here is that by purchasing a list, you don’t offer your new readers a chance to opt-in to receive your messages. Sure, those that actually bother to open your incoming messages might have agreed to the original owner’s terms, but that doesn’t mean that they are on board for your content. Considering how stiff fines and penalties can be for those who stick their toes over the spam law lines, do you really want to test your luck with an unsuspecting and potentially disgruntled contact list?

Your Reputation Means More

In terms of future prospects, the HubSpot Blog’s Corey Eridon notes that even those who avoid fines and penalties still aren’t free of the hazards that come with purchasing a list. Internet service providers (ISPs) and email providers, like Yahoo and Gmail, keep track of shady practices, so don’t be surprised if your IPs end up banned or black flagged due to unacceptable email transmissions.There’s also the reality that consumers using review sites and social media have no problem tarnishing your reputation via negative reviews and word-of-mouth anecdotes regarding unsolicited marketed messages. Think of it this way: If the shoe was on the other foot, would you really want some strange company spamming your inbox with offers and discounts that you didn’t ask to receive? At the end of the day, your brand’s reputation is worth far more than the minimal benefits offered up by purchasing a list.

A Better Alternative

Now that we’ve covered some of the most damaging outcomes that spring forth from this approach, let’s take a moment to talk about properly building your email list via trusted and proven tactics. Yes, doing things the right way is more work than simply forking over a hefty chunk of your marketing budget, but the payoff and goodwill that comes with this approach more than makes up for the effort that you put into this process.According to the Marketing Profs’ Meghan Keaney Anderson, it all starts with giving your potential contact list membership options. From opt-in options on your blog, social sites, and other web content, to the ability to leave the list whenever they want, ensuring transparency stays at the top of your list of priorities is a great way to play by the rules of your audience, the various ISPs, email providers, and even the government.Outside of putting the customer’s decision first, Anderson goes on to suggest filling your emails with only that of which they can benefit – and letting the world know about the deals held within. Between your membership spreading the good word to friends and family and your own outreach programs, it won’t take long for your contact list to become a healthy and vibrant community. When compared with the digital downfall that comes with most purchased lists, you’ll be happy you took the time to properly invest your resources in a custom contact list that can truly make your brand proud.

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