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How To Buy An Email List For Marketing (And Why You May Not Want To)

How To Buy An Email List For Marketing (And Why You May Not Want To)

A must-read on how to buy an email list and the crucial reasons why you probably shouldn’t. There are risks involved you need to know.

It’s a popular way to fast reach your target audience, but how does purchasing an email list work? We cover this below, along with reasons why you may not want to go this way.

Email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available. (sources)

Buying An Email List For Marketing 

One of the biggest hurdles for any business can be to get noticed by potential customers in an already flooded marketplace. It can take a lot of time to build a client base organically. So, this is where purchased email lists can come in.

Rather than waiting to accumulate a list of emails, say from a subscribe option on your blog posts or an opt-in function when a purchase is made – instead, you can pay for a list of emails. Easy, right? 

Well, it is not always smooth sailing, but we cover that later.

If you take a quick search online, you will find many businesses that have email lists for sale. There are two principal ways you can purchase emails for marketing purposes. 

Either buy the email list, so you own it, or pay a company to transmit emails to their lists, on your instruction. In short, you rent the email list from them temporarily.

Buying An Email List

If you buy the email list, it is yours to keep. Understandably, this is the option that costs more as you then have the asset to continue using. 

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Many email list companies will have email lists customizable to your needs. So, they can tailor a list of emails for the demographic you are aiming for. Or, so they say they will on their website.  As we will cover below, there are some caveats to these claims. 

So, you choose an email list company to go with, decide what demographic type you want in your list, and discuss different quantity options. 

The greater the number of emails, the more you pay.  But in theory, the more emails you have to market to, the more sales you will end up with. 

Renting An Email List

Another method is to borrow a list. Some businesses will provide an email service where, for a fee, they will send your email with your appealing call to action to their big email list. 

You don’t get to see the email list or have a copy. It is done for you.

In this way, you are giving it a shot without buying the list yourself. Again, it isn’t easy with this system to know if you got the service you paid for. 

If you get sales directly from that email, then you know you are onto a winner. 

Why It May Not Be A Good Idea To Buy, Or Borrow, An Email List

There are a lot of reasons why buying an email list for marketing is a bad idea. It sounds tempting to purchase leads rather than generate them yourself. 

But, as that old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

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Where Did The Contact Information Come From?

Think about it, where did they get all that personal information? It may have been that the customer ticked a box at checkout somewhere saying they give permission to be contacted by third parties. 

They might have fallen for a fake competition that gets viral social media shares but seems to disappear before any prize is awarded. Yet, everyone happily gave up their info, and where does that go?

Do these people care about the emails that bombard their inbox? 

Are they indeed your target audience for your email drip campaign? Or, did they just accidentally get put on a list they will later wish that hadn’t.  If you can purchase the email list, how many other businesses can too? 

Perhaps, the personal details were just made up altogether. Or even real data that was collected illegally. 

It is hard to say, and the marketplace is full of options. Some may have some credibility; however, no doubt, others are just out to make a dollar. Even a targeted email list that you purchase or rent might not create an accurate target. Who entered those demographics? 

Were they lying? It could be again that it was fictional or inaccurate.  Therefore, your on-target call to action falls short because they aren’t your target anyway.

Unsolicited emails are a lot like spam.

So, let’s say you do give in and buy an email list. You send off a big batch of emails. 

You get inundated with undeliverable messages. A few are to be expected, but people do find dodgy lists can mean many, many undeliverable emails.  Your email provider might even lock your account if you send a bunch of emails and with many undeliverable. 

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It might flag it as if you are sending spam and lock your account if the activity looks suspicious or in violation of any account rules. Well, you are sending spam, aren’t you? 

It’s not to say that your business isn’t legitimate and fantastic, but when it is sent via unsolicited email to people who have never heard of you, it can come across as spam. 

If it does get delivered and ends up in the spam folder, it will likely never get read. It also automatically makes it feel untrustworthy.

So, your paid-for potential customer now feels untrusting towards your company and perhaps, annoyed that they received an email from a business they don’t recall permitting.

Do people like to feel spammed into a sale? Hmm, I’ll let you answer that one.

It Could Lead To A Zero Return On Investment

As mentioned, the emails you purchased may be undeliverable. In fact, you can guarantee at least some will be. They may have been fake emails to start with, or the customer no longer uses that account.

The ones that do get delivered can end up in spam anyway – likely to never be opened. If things got worse, your email account might get locked. 

This is going to cost you time (and therefore money) to get you back on track.

Finally, the customers you did reach may now think of your business as untrustworthy. And, that you don’t respect their privacy – you somehow got their details and spammed them with some advertising. It feels intrusive. 

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Will they buy from you? It depends on how the above makes them feel. For many, they will be searching for the unsubscribe button.

Scammers are everywhere

Let’s say you do purchase an email list. Do they provide any kind of guarantee or have a refund policy? 

Imagine you spend money on a list, but there are duplicates in the list, and more than half are undeliverable on closer inspection. 

Did someone simply make them up? Maybe.  Then what? Is there a way to get your money back or seek support? 

Sadly, it is an easy market for scammers. Once they have your money, they may become uncontactable. You will likely have to chalk it up to a loss and move on. 

Conclusion? It could damage your reputation and cost you money!

Your hard-earned money could end up a complete waste if you purchase a dodgy email list. 

Not only that, if your email does reach your customers, they might have an adverse reaction to receiving unsolicited emails from you. 

All in all, building a reputable email list of your own creates a truly targeted email list and won’t feel like spam.

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