Nowadays, one can easily purchase a database with over a million email addresses for about $300. What next? Just upload your list using an existing or new email marketing account, send the offer to these “fresh” leads and wait for the great results? Actually, NO, this isn’t the way it works.
Many companies are keen on acquiring lists of “fresh” email addresses to send their offers to. It’s so much faster and easier than building up an organic list gathered from their own trusted sources. Some of these companies are simply not aware of the problems which may be caused by purchased lists.
People only respond well to emails they asked for. Why would anybody ever give permission for their personal data to be sold repeatedly for a couple of dollars? Neither you nor anyone else likes to receive unsolicited emails. These subscribers may have opted in for real estate offers, but now they’re receiving your offer for a totally different service! Even if you’ve taken the time to create a well-targeted list, it doesn’t change a thing if the recipients didn’t opt in. Please keep in mind how you feel when you receive unsolicited emails. Think about it. Would a legitimate company really sell a list of high-quality customers that took years to accumulate – and risk losing ALL those customers after the first unsolicited campaign?
Most likely, the email addresses from purchased email lists are gathered by automatic scripts, robots or other malicious software. Moreover, most of these leads are dead email addresses, which expired a few years ago, or non-existent emails or spam traps. With email lists, it’s always about quality, NOT quantity. You can have a million contacts on your list but it won’t matter if the subscribers don’t respond. In fact, you’d be lucky if your average open rate landed between 0.01% and 0.1%. On the other hand, a company that uses only 10.000 high-quality, opt-in email addresses can achieve 50% open rates and higher. Now, which list would you prefer to use?
But what if the subscribers on your purchased list opted to receive third-party offers? Most people that do this simply don’t know what they’re getting into, but they will still tag such messages as spam when they get them. Multiple uses of the same lists by multiple vendors can lead to a barrage of marketing emails and subscribers simply turn off – or turn on the SPAM button. So using these kinds of lists can lead to spam complaint problems that could put your email marketing account in jeopardy. Most importantly, the negative effects of using purchased lists can impact loyal, active customers who want to receive the newsletters and offers you send.
ISPs and blacklists
Sellers of email lists usually have a decent website: they guarantee ‘fresh’ opt-in email addresses; they promise that the list is well-targeted and responsive; and that they can provide proof of permissions, etc., should you require it. So the overall impression may be quite professional. But remember, no legitimate company would ever try to sell you a high-quality mailing list. Period!
A marketer can easily buy poor email lists, filled with undeliverable email addresses, spam traps, and some real email addresses of people that will click ‘this is spam’ button when they get your email. Emailing such a list would likely generate a maelstrom of spam complaints, prompting email marketing account closure, and destroying marketer’s reputation. This is serious!
These lists can wreak havoc on everyone that does business with you. Of course, the first victims that come to the mind are the subscribers on the email lists. However, the damage doesn’t stop there. Here are a few victims of sending unsolicited bulk emails to purchased email lists:
- Sender of abusive email lists damages their own reputation, leading to possible blacklisting or blocking and/or deferring of all sender messages by the major ISPs.
- Email Marketing Providers that strive to maintain the highest possible deliverability rates have to “clean up the mess” due to senders’ abusive traffic, investing major time and resources.
- ISPs are already struggling to develop more advanced systems and to allocate massive resources for spam detection and prevention in order to protect inboxes.
Organic growth is the answer
Growing your list organically is the best way. You are in touch with users who are interested in your offer and maintain their engagement. They signed up on your website of their own free will. So you know the list is creditable and that you are in control. Read about some best practices to support organic list growth or download our list building white paper. Without a doubt, organic growth is the safest and most effective way to build a successful mailing list.
What’s your “definition” of “organic” list growth? Would you like to share some of your experiences, tips, or perhaps “things to avoid” when building subscriber lists? Your comments are always welcome!