Never buy an email list: Never means never!
Posted under Email Best Practices on January 4, 2018
51% of marketers say enriching contact data quality is their most significant barrier to achieving email marketing success. This statistic provided by Hubspot blog illustrates the difficulty in creating a strong and valuable email list. Often times it takes weeks and even months to build an email list for your business. In the complex world of email marketing, you might be tempted to take a shortcut and buy an email list.
Now here is the obvious question I get asked all the time: What is the harm? Shortcuts are normal human nature. Right? Most are indeed harmless, but in this case, buying an email list could cause disastrous consequences for you and your business.
An email list is like internet gold. If mined and used properly, it can bring in huge patronage to your business. However, as we all know, that building a reliable list takes much more effort than spending a few bucks buying from vendors. If you would like to know, here are some reasons why you should never buy an email list:
1. It’s technically against the law:
First and foremost, buying an email list is against the law. Well, not exactly, but using it is. In today’s highly competitive marketing landscape, it might seem like a smart move to buy an email list. It isn’t. You have to realize that even on the “free” internet there are rules guiding how things are done. All over the world, there is some form of law protecting people from unsolicited emails and spam. We have CAN-SPAM in the USA, Anti-Spam Laws in Canada and EU Opt-in Directive in Europe. These laws protect the normal everyday user by requiring that the marketer obtain permission in some form before sending emails to an individual.
With purchased email lists, you have not obtained permission from the owner of the email address. This in truth is considered as spam and it is unsolicited. The laws are pretty clear about spam and do not take it lightly. For example, CAN-SPAM is prepared to fine violators up to $16,000 per email sent with these lists! When I see the hassle involved in buying and using emails as well as the red tape, I believe that the best policy is not using one at all.
2. No one will really sell a great email list:
This one is pretty obvious. No one or at least no serious marketer will sell out a great email list. All great email marketers know that in marketing, trust is key to consumer loyalty. They will never sell out their customer’s contacts, especially without consent. They understand the value and will want to keep these leads to themselves.
Of course, you will come across people who will insist that they have the best email lists out there. Don’t trust these ones either. Most of the emails on the list will either be outdated, fake or simply spam traps. A spam trap is an email address designed to lure in spam mail senders. These emails are not necessarily in use, but are checked regularly so as to weed out spam senders. When you send an email to this addresses it alerts an Internet Service Provider and they proceed to take action against you. This could range from blocking, blacklisting and fines. That in my opinion, is too much risk for an email list.
3. You will damage your reputation:
This is a no-brainer. When you send emails to addresses on a purchased list you open yourself to much risk. As a marketer, you have to understand that your reputation as an email sender depends on how people interact with your emails. If people flag your email as spam or complain, then your ISP and even email delivery service will have to take action. If the bounce rates and click-through rates of your emails are so low, then your reputation as an email sender will definitely drop.
No reputable email delivery/marketing service will work with you. Here at Pepipost, we have made it a policy to weed out spam email senders. If your account has been flagged as a spam account, then you will be blocked. Other online platforms have a very similar stance towards using purchased email lists on their platform. This is definitely a lose-lose situation in all fronts.
4. You can kiss deliverability goodbye:
One reason why the major email service providers including Pepipost are in business is due to the high delivery rates we guarantee. As a user of a purchased email address, the level to which your emails are delivered is based on a delivery score that takes a long time to shape. There might be people who will claim to have the knowledge of how to boost this. However, it is better safe than sorry. Do not let the desire to take shortcuts cost you an opportunity to genuinely interact with your clients and expand your business.
Once you have been blacklisted, it gets really hard to engage prospects in meaningful conversation. This is because your emails no longer get to their inboxes. In a system where deliverability is everything, it can be a great blow to your business if you lose this.
5. You will come across as untrustworthy and a total stranger
People hate being ambushed in their emails. However, they definitely prefer it to a face to face ambush. It’s much easy to hit the delete button and never think twice about that marketer who keeps bugging you. This freedom is a joy and one of the main reasons never to buy an email list.
Prospects have total control of their email space and many consider it their last true internet sanctuary. No internet marketer is allowed the right to be intrusive unless he has earned it (Or at least obtained permission to be intrusive). If prospects do not remember signing up for your newsletters or promotions, they will definitely not be welcoming or open to your offers.
When you email prospects on an email list that you have purchased, you are basically sending them the information they never asked for and this is usually met with resentment. It’s a very good way to lose customers even before you have earned them.
So, if it is a bad idea to buy email lists? What are your options?
Since buying an email list is obviously a bad idea, I’m sure you are wondering: What now? I understand the confusion. However, creating an email list for your business doesn’t have to be some boring and seriously difficult task, you can start with what you have. Here are a few actionable tips to help you create your own email list:
Create great content:
One of the keys to having people sign up for your mailing list is giving them great content. Many people do not mind giving you their email if they are getting something in return for it. You can then make this content gated, to allow you to ask for their emails if they would like access to some of your more advanced tools and resources.
Engage your prospects:
As stated earlier, many people prefer buying from marketers they are quite familiar with. Using personal knowledge of your target market, you can come up with really clever ways of making them signup. For example, you could organise a contest that requires them to sign up and complete a series of tasks to win a price you have on offer.
Use Social Media:
Social media is a great opportunity for businesses to reach out to prospects. Engage prospects on shared topics of interests, and talk to them about how your business could help solve a pressing need they are facing. From there on, the process is self-explanatory. You can also be direct and create awareness about your emailing lists while encouraging prospects to join in.
Be creative with the kind of content you create:
Video content is one of the most popular forms of content marketing out there. Infographics and other visual content are not too far behind. Leverage the rush created by these content to make people want to be part of the work you are doing. Be smart and be creative.
Host an Online Webinar or Q and A Session:
Clients are always curious to see what their favourite content creators are up to. Using webinars, you could involve people in the entire process. You could help them better understand how your business works. This is bound to deepen their appreciation of your art (or science) and then you can encourage to sign up for your email list to keep up with more of your content.
Leverage personal connections and offline recommendations:
Often times, we never see this mentioned, but it is one of the greatest ways to gain some subscribers. People tend to trust a face and name more than they do any well-designed website. If you can get friends to recommend your website you stand a really good chance of being able to add to your existing number of subscribers.
In conclusion, buying an email list may be tempting and it will definitely look profitable. However, the long-term dangers outweigh the short-term benefits. We hope that you understand this repercussion and take our advice when we say you should never buy an email list, ever.