Buying an Email Marketing List? Here’s what you should know.

by Paiton McDuffie | Oct 4, 2022

You’ve decided to dip your toes in the waters of email marketing. You’ve got a well-developed product or service that you’re confident can change how your prospects do business, and now you need to tell them about it. But before you can do that, you need contacts and their information in your email marketing database or CRM. At this stage, it may be tempting to simply go and purchase a list – after all, there are hundreds of providers who have numerous data points and prospect email addresses that are just an order form away. 

But is this the right course of action? 

I’ll break down several reasons why purchasing an email marketing list is not in your best interest and how you can go about gathering your own data in alternate ways.

So, why exactly is purchasing an email list not a great choice?

  1. It’s technically illegal – You have not received explicit consent to market to or email any of the contacts on the list you’ve purchased, and therefore should not be trying to contact them. Not familiar with the GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation)? Here’s a great resource to catch you up to speed.
  2. Deliverability issues – If you’re using a well-known and trusted email marketing service (think MailChimp, HubSpot, Pardot, etc.), you likely won’t even be able to send emails to a list that you’ve purchased because it can compromise their sender reputation. And if your next thought is to simply not use a reputable email marketing service to send your emails, you might want to read into their deliverability percentages. After all, what’s the point in sending an email if it won’t be delivered anyway?
  3. Poor data quality – The data you’re purchasing isn’t likely to be of good quality. Odds are, if an email address is present on a purchased list, its already been determined to be unresponsive or cannot receive marketing emails. In addition, you’re likely not the first or last person to try and contact an email address that is found on a purchased list, so you’d only be adding to the spam that it is receiving.
  4. Unfamiliarity – The contacts on a purchased list are unfamiliar to you and your company. You have one shot at making a strong introduction. The likelihood that your email is marked as spam is high, which would prevent any future messaging from reaching the contact.

Instead of purchasing a list, here are a few ways you can go about building your own database of contacts.

  1. Build brand awareness through inbound marketing, rather than relying on outbound marketing alone (which is what list purchasing and emailing are categorized as). Utilize social media and content creation to build familiarity with your prospective audience, rather than just pushing your message out to them (like emails).
  2. Create gated content that is valuable for your audience. Whether it’s a case study, a white paper, an assessment, or market insights, there are many ideas for assets that will be enticing enough to your audience that they’ll want to give you their email address.
  3. Run lead generation campaigns. Nurture your audience with lead gen campaigns that offer blog content or thought leadership content that will further educate them on problems they might be facing and how your product or service can solve those problems. Just make sure your content is valuable enough to earn their email address.
  4. Include sharing options in your current email marketing campaigns. This is a simple and effective way to reach contacts outside of your database by leveraging prospects or customers that are already receiving your email messaging. Many email marketing service providers have built-in merge fields such as “Forward to a Friend” that will allow your contacts to share the email with their colleagues or friends. Including social sharing icons and/or a webpage version link can also be useful if your contacts think their network would benefit from seeing your email.

Although the tactics listed above are not as instantaneous in building your database, they are more effective and safer than purchasing a list. Do you have other strategies you are using to gain new email contacts? Feel free to share them with me on LinkedIn!

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 by Paiton McDuffie

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