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The Dangers of Purchasing Email Lists
AustinMay 31, 20173 min read

The Dangers of Purchasing Email Lists vs. Building Your Own Email List

While your email list can be one of your most valuable marketing assets, emails should always be collected with permission or "opt-in" from people that actually want them if you are considering sending out marketing emails. There are countless ways to collect email addresses and build a quality list over time. In my professional opinion, the worst way to build your email list is to buy one.

Why Sending to Purchased Email Lists is Dangerous

  • Questionable Quality: The quality of the list is often pretty bad. The people on purchased lists may not be the right audience for your message and more importantly, they didn't ask to hear from you.
  • Crummy Response Rates: Sending to a purchased list almost guarantees a low open and click through rate, wasting not only your time, but also the time of the person receiving your unsolicited marketing email.
  • Reputation Damage: Sure, you can buy a list, but you have to earn a great reputation. Mailing to a list of people who don’t necessarily know who you are or even want to hear from you will diminish your reputation over time – and earning back that trust isn't easy.
  • You'll Look Spammy: Most of us still get spam delivered to our inboxes everyday. Do you really want to spam other people? You know what it is like, and you don't want to wind up in a spam filter either.  According to a recent article gmail is now using machine learning to block 99.9% of spam. It's just not worth it to be spammy.
  • Risks of Hefty Fines: Sending unsolicited emails (also known as spam) out from your account can get the attention of the Federal Trade Commission. Violating the CAN-SPAM Act can result in penalties of more than $40,000.
  • Violates Acceptable Use Policies: Any reputable Email Service Provider will not allow you to send to purchased lists. If you find a provider that will, chances are their server is not in high standing and your messages will more than likely be marked as spam anyway.

Better Ways to Grow Your Email Lists

So you've confirmed that you don’t want to buy a list. You may be wondering, “Well, how do I get a list worth emailing then?” While there is no quick or easy way to build a list there are things you can do to start building quality email lists of people who actually want to hear from you.

  • Create and promote lead magnets: Create high quality content for blogs, videos, and social media, then drive visitors to a form to subscribe to updates or to access a valuable piece of information or special offers. This can take time, but the plus side is these people are asking you to send them emails – they want to hear from you. You can always amplify this with targeted paid promotions on social media or through guest posting and other means.
  • Create valuable content: Give your visitors a reason to come to your website. Create valuable content they want to read. Start by understanding what your audience needs and what they want to learn about. Then offer them an opportunity to subscribe to your blog updates
  • Opt-in forms: Put an opt-in form on your website to give your visitors the option to subscribe to the type of information they are most interested in. For example, they could decide to receive only blog updates and not subscribe to marketing updates. Allowing you to keep them engaged with the content they want to receive.
In the end, buying an email list is usually not worth the risks. Adopting an inbound approach to your email list also encourages you to keep producing better content that will attract new visitors to your site, encourage more people to opt-in to your email lists as subscribers or leads, and creates more opportunities to nurture them into customers.


Inbound Marketing Specialist at TANK New Media