Buying an Email List? Don’t. Just Don’t.

EAG, November 26, 2019

The cardinal sins and golden rules of email list marketing.

There are a lot of marketing companies out there more than happy to pad your email marketing platform numbers by selling you an email list. The list might include recipients’ names, email addresses, company names, titles, income levels, etc. Buying an email list with all this juicy data beats organically building your email list with recipients’ permission, right? Wrong. Email marketing is only as good as your email list.

A quality email list is gold, which is why business owners are very protective of their lists. They’ve done the hard work (and networking) to build their lists. They’ve made sure to gain permission to contact prospects and customers in order to be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. A company selling an email list that’s worth anything would be like the Colonel selling his secret spice blend to any ol’ chicken franchiser who asks for it. Once that recipe is shared enough, that chicken becomes nothing special.

Buying an email list will make you guilty of a number of cardinal email marketing sins.

Purchased email lists are notorious for including the wrong or incomplete information, like names and email addresses, which were scoured from the web without the people’s permission. Sending email to outdated addresses or the wrong name is a waste of your marketing budget. Sending emails to people without their permission violates the law. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, companies can be charged a fine of up to $16,000 for each non-permission-based email sent. EACH!

Your email baby is ugly. Your email might be the most beautifully designed, well-written one of all time full of important information. Still, if it’s unsolicited, it’s ugly to the recipient. You don’t like spam (emails you didn’t sign up for), and neither does anyone else.


Send spam and even your email service provider will call you out on it by shutting down your email account, fining you under the CAN-SPAM Act, and perhaps taking legal action. Some email service providers include a clause in their contracts that strictly prohibit using their service to send emails to recipients on a purchased email list.

Using a purchased email list makes your business and offers no different from the rest. If you buy an email list, you would select one that includes recipients with specific qualities. If your competitor buys the same list, you’re now putting yourself in direct competition when you’ve worked so hard to establish your differentiation points. Ultimately, your audience becomes numb to your message because they’re getting the same message over and over again.

Follow the golden rules of building an email list and reap the rewards.

 Offer something of value in exchange for a person’s email and contact information. With all the spam out there, people are understandably reluctant to provide their information, but they will if what they feel they get in return is worthwhile.

Interesting content is often referred to as lead magnets. You know your audience, their pain points and how your company solves them better than anyone. Create a desirable piece and offer it to your site visitors in exchange for their email address. Now, you can communicate with them on an ongoing basis through email to build recognition and share offers.

Your company website can be the repository for valuable content via blogs, whitepapers, quotes, templates, etc. Include a contact form on your most important and visited pages through which your site users can fill out, submit and opt in to receive newsletters, promotions and more.

Build a landing page for specific promotions and events or information. A landing page generally focuses on one problem/solution and always features a form. From your landing page, visitors can request more information or click a link to your website to learn more. Landing pages create hot leads, so be ready to follow up on your offer.

Email is an effective way to maintain meaningful, ongoing communication with your customers. Sending emails to prospects about sales, promotions, events and important news is a way to score new business. Naturally, you want to cast the widest net possible with your emails. We can help you do just that with marketing strategies that will grow your email the right way.


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