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Should I Purchase an Email List?

Question: Our company struggles with building a proper opt-in email list. Do you recommend purchasing opt-in email lists? If so, are there reputable vendors that you can recommend? We are just getting started, and I’d like to do this right.

Answer: Don’t cut that check just yet. We do not recommend buying email-marketing lists because many lists contain:

  • Old, inactive email addresses that bounce, a red flag for ISPs.
  • Spam traps, email addresses set up specifically by ISPs to identify spammers. If you send to these addresses, they’ll think you’re a spammer, too.
  • Recipients that are not interested in your message and quickly hit the “This is Spam” button. Get too many spam complaints, and you can quickly tarnish your sender reputation and maybe even end up on blacklists.

As a last resort, it’s ok to purchase a list for telesales and direct mail. These lists have the same problems outlined above in terms of outdated information and people who don’t want to hear from you, but you won’t experience the same immediate, punishing effects with these channels as you would with email.

If you do choose to buy a list for telesales and direct mail, convert these prospects to bona fide, permission-based email subscribers by including an offer to win something of value in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter or online campaign.

Here are some approaches to building your own in-house email list that we do recommend:

  • Partnering with industry associations to include bylined articles or valuable content in their newsletters and communications, which drives traffic back to your newsletter program. In order for this to work, you must offer something valuable to the association, like content they don’t have access to or a chance to become more visible to your customer base.
  • Social media and networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging to help drive audiences to your subscriptions and downloads.
  • Search engine marketing via Google to promote offers that drive newsletter subscriptions.

Good luck building – not buying – your permission-based email list.

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