An Inbound Marketer’s Plea: Stop Buying Email Lists!

There are two ways to acquire a healthy list of subscribers for direct email marketing campaigns. One is good, but hard. One is evil, but easy. The good way is to create email subscriber opt-ins on your website, social media portals or trade shows — generally any place, physical or virtual, where human beings gather to talk. The other method is to purchase a massive list of subscribers from email subscription peddlers.

Shortcuts are incredibly tempting, no matter what kind of work you do. Gaining an active and engaged audience requires a great deal of hard work, determination and a bit of luck. So when you see snake oil offers — like email subscribers for sale — it makes sense that you would want to cut a few corners and gain an instantaneous following.

Three reasons purchased email lists are evil

  1. Annoyed users hit the unsubscribe button. With a purchased list, you’re largely working with strangers. They don’t know your brand or platform at all. All they know is that some random company — that’s you — is violating their inbox with annoying solicitations that they’ve never heard of before. In their moment of immediate annoyance they will, without hesitation, reach for and click on that unsubscribe link as quickly as possible.
  2. Any email company worth their salt won’t work with you. Email marketing campaigns live and breathe by the almighty power of email service providers. If you plan to use an email marketing service, software or cloud platform in the future, bought email lists destroy your chances. Reputable ESPs will not accept bought lists.
  3. Your reputation is at stake. Whether you like it or not, there are organizations that devote large chunk of their time to combatting email spam. Here’s how it works: The anti-spam warrior organization plant a honeypot — a system that detects whether unauthorized users are delivering or accessing information. With a bought email list you actually have no way of knowing whether or not those email addresses were spammed by other companies, or how many times. As a result, your IP address will be logged and potentially traced, after which your reputation will suffer, and ultimately the reputation of your company will take a significant hit.

Bought lists just don’t work

Perhaps the biggest problem with bought email lists is that they’re incredibly ineffective. Think back to the last unsolicited email you received. Your immediate reaction was likely repulsion. No one likes being duped. Skip this practice altogether by making your email opt-in portal easily accessible to site visitors, prospects and business associates. Make sure your site content is easily digestible so that perfect strangers can grasp your product or platform quickly. From there you can do all sorts of crazy things, like ask site visitors to sign up. It’s worth the extra legwork to do things the right way. The fastest way to build true success is through hard work and dedication.

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