In the fast-paced, digitally-driven marketing world, the temptation to take shortcuts can sometimes be overwhelming. One such perceived shortcut is the purchasing of email lists for marketing purposes. However, before you jump on board this seemingly efficient strategy, it’s essential to understand its drawbacks and ethical concerns. As managers for our client’s email marketing, we hope to shed some light on this topic.
Purchasing an email list sounds like a no-brainer.
The idea of purchasing an email list is appealing. After all, it offers the promise of immediate access to thousands of potential customers. However, this approach has potential issues. Firstly, it’s somewhat unethical. People on purchased lists didn’t give you their explicit permission to email them about your business. Sending unsolicited emails is generally considered spam, which most people dislike.
It’s less effective than it sounds.
Emails sent to individuals who have yet to opt for your communications likely result in low open and conversion rates. This kind of ‘cold’ emailing needs a personalized touch to make email marketing more effective.
Many times, it’s illegal.
It’s worth noting that purchasing email lists can be illegal in many jurisdictions. This questionable practice falls under the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. and the GDPR in the EU. Noncompliance can result in hefty fines and a tarnished reputation.
Buying email lists could harm your brand’s image.
No one enjoys getting unexpected emails, even from companies they’re familiar with. It’s even more annoying to receive emails from a company you don’t know or a newsletter you didn’t subscribe to.
When you buy an email list, you can’t guarantee that those contacts are interested in what you’re selling. Will they even be interested in becoming new customers?
Keep in mind that if you buy mailing lists, many people on that list won’t know who you are. They might start associating your company and brand with unwanted spam by sending them emails they didn’t ask for.
Choosing to buy email lists for well-known brands can lead to even more harmful effects if discovered. Maintaining a brand takes time and effort; just one mistake can cause significant harm. Bad publicity is real and can be damaging.
Purchased email lists could harm your future deliverability rate.
Imagine being tagged as a ‘spammer’ by someone’s email provider. Being identified as a spammer could flag your email address as suspicious to larger email providers. In the worst-case scenario, your email might even get banned altogether. This situation becomes more detrimental when you’re about to send a big marketing email. Even if the recipients have agreed to receive your emails, your messages might only end up in their spam folders. That’s not good news for your business.
Another gotcha when buying email addresses is that there’s a risk you might fall into what’s known as a ‘spam trap’ or ‘spam honey pot.’ This type of email address is deliberately unused and left out by email services to catch those who send spam. Since no one uses these addresses, it’s evident that anyone sending emails to them is likely to be a spam sender.
A better alternative to buying email lists
Instead of buying email lists, consider adopting methods to grow your email list organically. Collecting emails from customers who already do business with you could involve offering valuable content, discounts, or other incentives to encourage customers to provide their email addresses. Hosting webinars, running online courses, or creating a subscription service can also be effective strategies.
These tactics may require more time and effort. But, they ensure your email list has contact information from individuals genuinely interested in your business and, therefore, are more likely to engage with your emails.
A more ethical alternative to buying email lists
One alternative to buying a list is running a joint venture with another related business partner where you promote each other to your existing email lists. This way, you’re reaching a new audience that has opted in to receive related emails. Just remember to connect with these audiences in a manner that respects the privacy and preferences of the subscribers.
But what’s the cost of securing an email list?
In terms of cost, purchasing an email list can set you back anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the email list’s size and “quality.” However, these costs don’t guarantee effectiveness.
The cost of purchasing a quality email list can differ depending on the email list provider and data sources. Below are a few factors that affect the overall expense:
- Audience Desired
- Type of Email List
- Quantity of Contacts
- How the email list is used
- Quality of the list desired
- The Formatting Options Needed
Remember that building an email list naturally through your company website and email marketing efforts might take longer, but the costs involved are generally much lower and consist mainly of your time or the cost of incentives you offer for sign-ups. However, if you are still considering a purchased list, consider reputable list brokers and review well online.
What’s the actual cost of using purchased email lists?
Ultimately, in email marketing, quality is far more critical than quantity. A list of 500 engaged subscribers is far more valuable than a purchased list of 10,000 uninterested contacts. It’s all about building relationships and trust with your subscribers. Remember, an organically grown, engaged email list is an asset to your business – not just a number. The key to effective email marketing is building your list of people genuinely interested in your offer. The most reliable way to do this is by providing value and building a relationship with your subscribers.
So, take the time to nurture it. The rewards will be worth it.