The Ugly Truth About Buying Email Lists

Shady SalesmanExperience, as the saying goes, is the best teacher.

Unfortunately, sometimes that experience is really painful.

This is never more true than when a well-intentioned business, eager to grow, gets suckered into a “quick fix” by someone offering them an inexpensive “shortcut” to building their email list.

I recently came across an example of someone who learned a hard lesson about bulk email marketing, list-building and email deliverability…

Buying an Email List Is An Awful Idea

I can already hear a lot of you saying,

“Yes, yes, we all know… don’t buy email lists, they’re not good prospects, they don’t know you and never gave you permission to email them, blah blah blah…”

I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse here.

After all, buying email lists is so… 1999. Right?

Unfortunately, for new email marketers, it’s not always obvious what is and isn’t a bad idea.

Some Companies Prey On These New Email Marketers

They’ve learned there’s money to be made by offering new email marketers a “shortcut” to building their own subscriber lists.

So they compile email address lists and advertise them as…

  • “Targeted”
  • “Opt-in”
  • “Verified”
  • “Clean” (shouldn’t that be a clue that purchasing lists is inherently dirty?)
  • “Real Time”

…and a whole lot more.

What those companies don’t advertise are the consequences of sending to purchased email lists.

One Company Learned Those Consequences The Hard Way – And Turned To The Internet To Share Their Lesson

Javelin Marketing, a marketing/consultancy firm in the financial advising sector, got lured into buying such an email list (of supposed financial advisors).

No doubt they expected to find their message well-received by many of those advsiors, and to quickly grow their prospect list as a result.

As you might expect, it didn’t turn out quite that way:

Upon emailing to 100,000 of the records, 85,000+ bounced, clogged up the mail server and also got them fired by our web-based email provider.

There’s No Quick Fix.

Attracting subscribers is a deliberate process.

The only thing you’re really buying when you buy an email list… is a massive headache.

Because that’s what you end up with after dealing with the damage that purchased email lists do to your email deliverability and your reputation as someone doing business online.

OK, I’m climbing down from my soapbox now… :)

All kidding aside, I know most (hopefully all) of you realize what a bad idea it is to buy email lists.

But for those who don’t, or who want to see what the real-world consequences are, Javelin provides a classic example.

Please, when someone asks you about buying email addresses, point them here so they can see why it Just. Doesn’t. Work.