A list document with a prohibitory sign on it that is connected to icons of multiple people with mail envelope icons alongside the title The Perils of Buying an Email List

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The Perils of Buying an Email List

By: Lubna El Elaimy, Copywriter | Jun 23, 2023 | 3 Minute Read

Thinking of Buying an Email List? Think Again.

At first glance, buying an email list seems like a good idea. In reality, it can hurt your business and destroy your reputation. Find out why!

Consider this scenario: You just started a new business, and you’re thinking about email marketing. Like most marketers, you probably want to email as many people as possible to capture new customers. You search far and wide for ways to grow your mailing list, and one of those methods jumps out to you; buying an email list. All you have to do is pay someone to give you hundreds or thousands of email addresses. Then you can start sending these customers-to-be all your marketing emails, enticing them with offers, discounts, and sales. Unfortunately, it can damage your reputation.

In our age of increased internet privacy and GDPR, spamming a potential customer with email marketing they never signed up for is a sure way to end up blocklisted by internet service providers, end up in the spam folder, and damage your business reputation.

Here are the main reasons why you should never purchase an email list!

1. It violates GDPR compliance. GDPR rules emphasize consent, privacy, and transparency when using personal information. Sending marketing emails to people who have yet to subscribe to your email list opens you up to complaints which will hurt your deliverability.

2. Your spam rates will skyrocket. Picture this: you wake up in the morning, and while drinking your morning coffee, you check your email to find ten emails from companies you never signed up for or even bought a single product. How would you feel about that? What’s your usual reaction? Like many, you’ll probably report these emails as spam or immediately unsubscribe. Your inbox provider may direct them into your spam folder without you ever seeing the emails in the first place! When many recipients report a company’s emails as spam, they have trouble delivering their messages, even to those who care about the business and buy its products.

mailchimp hubspot and klaviyo logos denying access to a file

3. Reputable email service providers usually won’t allow you to use a purchased email list. By buying email lists, you risk having your email marketing provider suspend your account or cancel your contract.

4. Others may have purchased the same email list as you, meaning that customers on your mailing list may receive too many emails from brands they have yet to subscribe to. This means they’re more likely to report your emails as spam. Another risk is that these lists are probably old and outdated, which can hurt your email’s deliverability, open rate, and click rate.

5. You risk being blocked by email service providers (ESP) since you will probably email spam traps. Once you email any spam trap email addresses, ESPs will block your IP address, which will have a severe negative impact on your email marketing efforts.

6. Your bounce rate will increase. Email bounce rate is the percentage of undeliverable emails which “bounce” back to you. A high bounce rate is a red flag for ESPs; if a provider notices your bounce rate exceeds acceptable rates, they may divert your emails to spam folders, resulting in higher spam rates and again lower deliverability for all of your emails. 

an email marketing opt-in segment beside social media icons for facebook, instagram, and twitter and a checklist

What to do instead

  1. Social media is your friend. Use your social media presence to bolster your email marketing and build your email list without buying email lists from shady sources.

  2. Opt for Double Opt-in: Double opt-in is when you ask subscribers to confirm their subscription to your email list. This way, you ask for their explicit consent, not once, but twice, to

    ensure they are happy to be on your list.

  3. Clean your list regularly: List cleaning is when you remove email addresses that are no longer active or interested in your email marketing. When you keep your mailing list clean and up to date, you ensure every person gets your emails. Email service providers like Klaviyo make it easy to clean your email list.

  4. Subscribers need to be able to unsubscribe from your email list. Make sure you regularly check your unsubscribe link and that it is working. Subscribers need to be able to opt out of receiving your emails.

Final Thoughts

The online marketing landscape is constantly in flux, making it seem like the goalposts are constantly shifting. Privacy rules keep changing, creating a challenging email marketing landscape with new obstacles businesses must overcome. Buying email lists may seem like a quick and sensible solution, but beware the consequences to your email marketing strategy’s overall effectiveness. By being adaptable and attentive in your email list building, you can weather any storm, and your business will thrive.

Want to learn more ways to improve your email marketing performance? Check out what our experts at Arctic Leaf are saying or reach out to us directly at info@arcticleaf.io!

Arctic Leaf is a digital agency with over 10 years of e-commerce and email marketing experience serving clients of all industries. Our entire team is Baymard UX certified and our amazing developers can build everything from simple Shopify themes to fully custom headless experiences.