There are many things money can’t buy, like true love, real happiness, genuine friends, and clean email lists? Sure, thousands of contacts are a credit card swipe away, but your email marketing program, a critical part of a well-rounded inbound marketing strategy, will seriously suffer. Yes, its true you can actually buy or rent email lists, but is it really any different than buying a mail-order bride? Sure, it could be true love, but maybe your best bet for love and successful email marketing is doing it the natural, old-fashion way. Here’s a look at your options for procuring an email list, both legitimately and otherwise, and their effects on your marketing efforts.
Methods of Acquiring an Email List
Before we rush into the dangers of purchasing an email list, let’s do a little review of three most common ways marketers acquire contact lists to email:
1) Generate an opt-in list. Someone voluntarily gives you their email address, either online or in person (at a community fair, for instance), so you can send them email updates. Opt-in email addresses are the result of earning the interest and trust of your contact because he or she thinks you have something valuable and helpful to say.
2) Buy a list. You work with a list provider to find and purchase a list of names and email addresses based on demographic and/or psychographic information. You can get lists as specific or broad as you would like.
3) Rent a list. Also working with a list provider, you identify a segment of people to email — but you never actually own the list. You will never actually hold it in your hands. Which means, you never see the email addresses of those you’re emailing, and must work with the provider to send out your email.
When it comes to rented or purchased lists, you may come across list vendors who tell you exactly what you want to hear. “This email list is entirely opt-in!” See, they want you to think your emails will be welcomed by the receive, but it actually means that the people on the list did opt-in to an email communication from someone at some point in time likely because of interest in something. What it doesn’t mean, however, is that they opted in to receive email communications from your business. This is a critical discrepancy; it can make or break the success of your marketing labors. Here’s why:
Bought Love is Not Real Love
Email marketing is all about communicating with those that are already interested in your company. When you operate your email marketing from an opt-in contact base you will only increase the love by sharing new products or services, sales and discounts, and general updates. But when an unsolicited offer is forced upon the unsuspecting, more often than not, it will be rejected. Its true in the dating world as it is in email marketing. If an unsolicited email lands in an inbox it may get opened out of curiosity in my inbox but it ends there. Those click-thru rates aren’t real love. More often it will go straight to the trash and after a couple of tries the email will ultimately be completely rejected, right into the SPAM folder.
No Scrubbing Makes for a Dirty Reputation
If you purchase a list, you have no way to know how those lists have been used before it was sold to you. Its impossible to know for sure whether the email addresses on that list have been scrubbed for hard bounces to prevent identifying you as a spammer, or from where those email addresses originated. Are you really willing to risk not only your email deliverability, but also the reputation of your IP address and your company? Even if you find the light after purchasing or renting an email list, and decide to only email those who have opted in with your company, it will take you months (or maybe even years) to get your Sender Score up and rebuild your reputation.
Opt-in is Your Best Chance
Natural curiosity turned genuine interest cannot be acquired with a credit card in love or email marketing. Offering a great product and being a genuine good guy is what wins the emails. Your best chance for optimal email marketing success is to build your email contact base organically. Earn them through interest in your products and trust in your brand.
No such thing as a ‘good’ email list for sale. They do not exist. Unless you’re in the process of acquiring an entire company, you’re not going to come across a high quality email list you can purchase. The very fact it is for sale at all means that the email addresses on it have already been battered and bruised by all the other people who have purchased and used that same list. Any email addresses that once had value have since been spammed into oblivion!
Just take a second to think about it. How do you like when you check an email and a company you have never heard of is selling you something you have no need for? That’s right. You hate it. SPAM sucks; so don’t be that guy. Buying email lists are not worth the money and definitely not worth the risk of damage to your company’s reputation.