Why You Should Never, Ever Buy an Email List

Published on August 5, 2015

There's a trope in high school comedies where some poor schmuck has no other choice but to pay someone to be his date to prom.

When you buy an email list, you're that poor schmuck. 

Purchasing an email list, instead of producing engaging content that audiences want to follow, is not exactly cheating, but it is ineffective and a poor use of resources. So, put down that debit card and exit that tempting tab of "easy" leads. Check out these reasons why those lists are bad news:

1.Your Reputation Precedes You

The email lists that are up for sale are often as old as the hills and chock-full of fake email addresses. Instead of building your leads, you'll build one heck of a bounce rate. 

These lists are also known to produce big loads of spam, which can not only turn into big loads of complaints from customers and blocked sendings, while also putting you in violation of CAN-SPAM laws. All of these negatively impact your email and IP reputation, and they can also disrupt your future deliverability (e.g. your current customers won't get your emails!) That's no way to grow a business!

2. You Might Suffer From Brand Damage

Being branded as a spammer is a terrible setback to any business, but especially one that is just taking off. There's even a whole organization, Spamhaus, devoted to the prevention and removal of spam from the Internet. According to their website:

No legitimate company will ever sell you a list of 'opt-in' email addresses. Anyone selling you lists of 'opt-in' email addresses is very simply a spam outfit. If you have been sold a list of email addresses which the seller promises are 'opt-in,' you have been conned. Selling third-party e-mail addresses is inherently contradictory to the concept of 'opt-in.'

3. You Could Get Blacklisted 

Blacklisting occurs when your site gets the boot from search engine indexes. It stops organic traffic from finding your site, even if someone searches for it specifically. 

Buying an email list puts your IP address at risk for blacklisting. Sendblaster reports that because so many blacklists are user-reported, one "vital step to avoid getting blacklisted is to never send unsolicited email messages."

4. You're Also Probably Wasting Time

You're not going to get the number or kind of responses you want. Not only will your team feel burned out and less productive as they receive the "How did you get my contact information?" emails from the recipients who DO respond, you'll also be losing time and money that you could be using to chase real leads.

The people you're emailing do not want to hear from you and will put about as much effort pursuing your products as you did pursuing their email address.

The Bottom Line? Try Things the Proven Way

It might sound a little too Disney for the world of online marketing, but honesty really is the best policy when it comes to pursuing leads.

That being said, the best way to begin is by increasing your SEO through quality content and killer social media engagement. If that sounds a little too new or overwhelming, check out our newsletter for some great guides or drop us a line for personalized help! We create compelling content for our clients in myriad industries every day!