While working on email marketing, you may consider the fast methods of growing your audience. It is understandable as not every business have time and patience to collect addresses one by one. In such situations buying email lists seems like a solution. But is it so? Despite the fact that most services warn not to do so, many companies, especially the young ones, purchase databases with the hope that they will collect their target clients quickly.
Such approach may lead to serious consequences, so you will have to spend much more time and resources on fixing the damage. In this article, we will discuss all the risks to persuade you to refuse from this trick. Also, you will learn some valuable tips on growing your client base by the appropriate ways.
Why People Buy Email Lists?
This is a fair question. If it is obviously dangerous, why does such option still exist? Well, the demand stimulates the offer, so while it is somehow possible to use bought list, there will be “list market”. Here are some common reasons companies decide to acquire new database in such way:
- quick business growth;
- enhancing the existing lists;
- well-known approach;
- promises to provide you a targeted market by zip code etc.;
- small companies think this is the only option to them;
- absence of desire to evolve.
The last two reasons are the most common, as young marketers follow the examples of some older companies, while those ones stick to the old-fashioned approaches and they do not have enough motivation to adjust to the new realities.
Is It Legal to Buy Email Lists?
It is not welcomed and against most policies of the services. However, there are no definite laws and regulations that directly prohibit the process of selling/purchasing of databases. However, it is a violation of some ethical rules as the seller cannot guarantee the quality of the addresses in those lists and the buyer will send letters to the people without their permission. Even with recent GDPR updates, this issue remains more of the ethical matter.
Moreover, in some cases usage of the non-opted-in lists can be punished by ISPs, ESPs and other services you may use for your campaign and you will have to pay significant fees. Also, some definite laws can be created that will clearly show that purchased lists are illegal. So you will have to change the whole processes of your campaign.
10 Reasons to Stop Purchasing Email Lists
We have already stated that purchased email lists are not a good idea. But let’s take a closer look at the significant reasons to stop using this method of database enhancing.
- Doubtful trustworthiness. Since the process of collecting email address cannot be checked we have all rights to doubt the quality of such database. Moreover, the providers also can look for a quick and easy way to get money so they can provide you with lists with missing or incomplete data so the names and addresses will be wrong. So you may end up with just a few addresses buy to pay for more. Also, addresses from such databases are often outdated. The main danger here is to use emails that were harvested, and such activity is a violation of CAN-SPAM Act.
- Unknown audience. As people from the purchased lists did not opt-in for receiving correspondence from you, they have no idea who you are and what you offer inside. Even when you do not make email lists purchase but rent the database instead of from the companies who claim that people have opted in for receiving some correspondence, still you cannot get benefits from them. They did not opt-in for receiving YOUR letters. Moreover, you do not know anything about your receivers as well. Such a “blind” communication cannot be profitable.
- You will be an actual spammer. Sending unsolicited letters is spamming. So when you are trying to reach people without their permission, you annoy them with unwelcomed letters that have a few chances to be read. Eventually, you can even end up in a spam folder and get numerous complaints, especially when you will send a lot of messages. And all your efforts in writing a perfect message and designing it will be a waste of time.
- Troubles with email service providers. ESPs constantly check the activity of their users and monitor spam rates. So when, due to the mentioned factors, you receive a lot of spam complaints, the service may reconsider your collaboration. The less serious consequences can be termination of your account. But also there may be some fines and other legal actions that are aimed at preventing and punishing buying b2b email lists and spam activity. There is often a precaution like “You are not allowed to use purchased databases” and so on in their terms and conditions.
- You may be not the single “owner”. Since the databases are not physical objects, you cannot be sure that your one has not been copied or sold before. So it is a common situation when the same list is being used simultaneously by a few similar marketers. Just imagine, the person behind the particular address starts receiving messages from the unknown sender, and what is more, there is more than one sender with almost the same offers. You both will be thrown away to the trash or spam folder.
- Low response rates. The other side of the communication with the unknown database is the poor numbers in open and response rates. Companies are struggling with getting decent open and reply rates with opted-in lists. When you are writing to the people in an unsolicited way, you have much fewer chances to e noticed.
- Spots on your reputation in general. We have already mentioned that ESPs can take legal actions against your actions. But think broader. What if somebody decides to look for info about your company and the first pages in search results will contain angry complains about your unsolicited mailing? You can check how many cases of revealing the purchasing email lists can be discovered from Google stories. We doubt you want to become known as such company.
- Risks facing fines and bills. Even if your actions will not technically violate some laws, you will be constantly in a battle of your reputation. Moreover, since you will actually deliver unsolicited mail, you can be a law-breaker considering CAN-SPAM Act (in the United States). Also in different countries, there are their own specific laws that can fine you for grey-area activity.
- Plenty of articles and posts against email list purchase. If you are a freshman in the online marketing, you probably learn how to conduct your business here by studying the practices of experts in this field. Despite the fact that buying contact databases is a common thing among some sort of successful companies, the real professionals do not recommend such methods.
- Reputable email marketers do not sell their good databases. There are a few chances that address in the lists for sale will be of a good quality. In most cases, they are already overused by spammers so it is hard to reach their owners. Moreover, when companies succeed in collecting decent contact base, hardly they will ever sell it.
Alternatives to the Email List Purchase
Some companies can rent particular email lists from list providers. However, this option has a big downsize – you do not own such database. So you will be tied to the service as you will not be able to see the actual addresses. Also, as in a case with the purchased database, there is no guarantee you will be contacting the right people.
The best option for acquiring the quality database is to collect it naturally. Offer visitors to your site or blog to sign up and you will have a channel for real addresses from real people who opted in for receiving an email from you.
How to Build Your Own Lists?
It is wise of you to reach this section and discover how to conduct your business on the internet without violation of any laws and rules. Instead of buying email address database, you can study some recommendations on how to create and maintain your own email lists.
- Study your audience. Learn more about their preferences considering means of communication, what they worry and care about and how you can help them with your product. Since you will know your target customer, you will never get back to the database purchasing.
- Set the communicational channel via blogs, forums, and social media. Show your audience that you can solve their problems and provide useful materials on how to deal with them. Also having blog or website makes it possible for you to be found via search engines.
- Create gated assets and promote them. This is a common practice for collecting real emails and much effective than when you buy email address list. Offer your visitors some unique materials, additional tips or features in exchange for their address and inform them what kind of communication you are going to conduct.
- Provide valuable offers. Make sure that your offers are worth providing personal emails. Add a call to action in order to stimulate the person to make a decision.
- Design creative campaigns. If your materials, newsletter, and offers will be interesting and catching to the people, they will promote you without your request, which is good. People tend to share the inspiring and valuable things with their friends, colleagues, and family. You, in your turn, will acquire new contacts.
Be Modern – Say No to the Purchasing of Email Lists
The whole point of this article is to make you refuse from this approach. As you can see, it is a relic of the past. But online marketing is a fast evolving area and it is aimed at providing higher and higher level of user experience. Email lists for purchase were a decent thing when people were not overwhelmed with such a big informational flow. Moreover, keeping using the bought lists you risk not keeping up with more decisive competitors who tailor their database and get more sales and clients even with less point in their actual list of addresses. Is it worth your eventual business failure?