March 29, 2021

Thinking of Buying an Email List? Think Again.

Five Reasons Not to Purchase an Email List

By Jonathan Ebenstein, Managing Director, Marcum Strategic Marketing

Thinking of Buying an Email List? Think Again. Strategic Marketing

Purchasing an email list may sound like a quick and easy way to jump-start a sales initiative, but the reality is that it could do more harm to your business than good. Below are five reasons why.

1. Violation of the CAN-SPAM Act

The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted to protect people from unsolicited emails sent by B2C and B2B companies. Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM law is subject to penalties of up to $16,000 and multiple people from a company can be held responsible for violations. So just doing some quick math here…if your company is caught violating the CAN-SPAM Act after sending an e-blast from a purchased list to 1,500 “prospects,” your fines could total $24 million—plus, of course, the cost of the list.

2. Your email service provider may terminate your service.

Reputable email marketing companies do not permit the distribution of emails from purchased lists. Companies like HubSpot, MailChimp, and Constant Contact dictate the practice of using opt-in email lists. When their software detects too high a percentage of your email sends being tagged as spam, your account may get closed, you could be fined, and you run the risk of legal action.

3. You risk damaging your company’s deliverability and IP reputation.

Email service providers, ISPs, and anti-spam groups use spam traps (i.e., inactive email addresses) as a tool to catch flagrant spammers. Often caught in the net are legitimate companies which unknowingly purchase a list containing spam traps. The traps, when sprung, will report the sender as a spammer. This will damage a company’s IP reputation, resulting in spam filters quarantining or rejecting any email being sent by the company, negatively impacting their email deliverability.

4. Violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules for consent.

GDPR is a legal framework that requires companies to protect the personal data and privacy of European Union citizens for the collection and processing of information for, and distribution to, individuals within EU member states. In order to send emails and remain GDPR-complaint, you must have the explicit consent of all email recipients on your list. Compliance here means anyone receiving a mass sales/marketing email must first opt-in to receive campaign- or subscription-based emails from your company. People who are included on purchased lists clearly have not been given this option—making you noncompliant with GDPR before you send your first email.

5. You really can’t trust the quality of a purchased list.

As nice as the sales rep who sold you your list may have been, he wasn’t necessarily the most honest. Purchased lists often come with a number of problems such as:

  • Incorrect, missing and/or incomplete data.
  • Data that is out-of-date (i.e., abandoned email addresses or addresses that no longer exist).
  • Email addresses that were illegally collected and thus contain people who did not opt-in.
  • Spam traps and Honey Pots.

OK, so if buying a list is out of the question, what can you do instead?

The answer, and you may not like this, is to build your own list that includes only contacts who have opted in to receive content from you.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Create Gated Content.

Gated content requires a site visitor on your company’s website to fill out a form in order to gain access to highly sought-after information (e.g., an e-book, webinar, checklist, white paper). In addition to being a great lead generation tool to help you gather important data about a prospect, it gives people a reason to legally provide you with their email addresses. Once you have them, you can comfortably continue to communicate with those people (unless, of course, they opt out).

2. Create Offers and Tools.

A free offer such as an analysis, review or inspection, product demo, no-risk consultation or free quote are all great strategies to engage a website visitor to trade their email address for what they perceive to be valuable information. For example, we offer a Free SEO Report on our website but to secure it, you have to fill out a form that includes your email address.

Gated content example screenshot

3. Promote Your Gated Assets.

Once you have created some gated assets that can secure email addresses from qualified leads, you are going to need to promote the heck out of them. There are a number of channel alternatives for doing this such as social media, digital advertising, website promotion, and your blog.

How to promote your gated content screenshot

Interested in building an email marketing list for your company? Please contact Jonathan Ebenstein or 440-449-6800.

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