Exactly why Buying Email Lists Is definitely a Bad Idea (And How to Build Yours for Free)

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You need people who you are able to email, and you need them quickly. Also, and if you could get all of them pretty cheap, that’d be great, too.

That’s the mindset a lot of marketers find themselves in when they’re in the phone with a list-purchasing company: We need new people to email to support our sales team. Acting on that moment of desperation, however , can cause more harm compared to good.

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Yes, thousands of contacts are a charge card swipe away, but your email marketing program — a critical part of the well-rounded inbound marketing strategy — can seriously suffer. Curious the reason why buying email lists is a legitimate email marketer’s kiss of death? Read on.

Plus, we’ll give you a list of squeaky-clean and effective ways to build your e-mail marketing list without basically buying one.

Ways of Acquiring an Email List

Before we all get into the issues of buying email addresses, why don’t review three ways marketers are currently capable to acquire their mailing lists:

1 . Purchase an email list.

You work with a checklist provider to find and buy a list of names plus email addresses based on demographic and/or psychographic info. For example , you might buy a list of 50, 500 names and emails of people who live in Minnesota and don’t have children. There are several environmentally friendly ways to use email marketing to grow your business. That isn’t one of them.

second . Rent an email checklist.

Also working with a list provider, a person identify a portion of people to email — but you certainly not actually own the list. As such, weight loss see the email addresses of the people you’re emailing, so you must work together with the provider to send out your email.

3. Own an opt-in email list.

Someone voluntarily gives you their email address either online or even in-person so you can send out them emails. They may pick certain varieties of email content they wish to receive, like particularly requesting email alerts when new blog posts are published. Opt-in email addresses are the result of earning the interest plus trust of your connections because they think you might have something valuable to say.

When it comes to leased or purchased lists, you may come across vendors or marketers exactly who say, “This email list is totally opt-in! ” This means the folks on the list elected in to email communication from someone at some point in time — record provider, for example — by filling out an application or checking a box to receive a lot more content from that provider.

Exactly what “opt-in” lists may mean, however , is the fact that email recipients opted in to receive email communications from your business. This is a critical distinction, and the next section of this post will go into more detail on exactly why this type of “opt-in email list” (should become read with surroundings quotes) is not a good option for your email marketing plan.

one You’ll violate the rules of consent below GDPR.

Most email marketers around the world are legally needed to allow recipients in order to opt out of emails they no longer want to receive. Contacts must be in a position to do this directly in the email message. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a European data privacy act that doubles down on the opt-in side with this relationship — and found that purchased mailing lists are simply not compliant.

GDPR has revamped numerous aspects of a digital marketer’s use of customer data throughout Europe — on a website, in social media marketing, and via email. You don’t even have to work in Europe to fall under the act’s jurisdiction; if your recipients live in Europe, they’re protected by GDPR.

With GDPR now governing all email correspondence across Europe, adding an opt-out option to your email template no longer cuts it. Under this act, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to send them emails. Explicit, in cases like this, means the checkbox a person must click to opt into an email subscription isn’t pre-checked when they view it on your website. When you buy your mailing lists, the people on it haven’t been given this option — making you non-compliant with GDPR before you send your first email.

Want some non-legal reasons to avoid the purchased email list? We’ve got those as well, below.

2 . Reputable email marketing services don’t let you send emails to lists you’ve bought.

If you’re using e-mail marketing software or want to in the future, you’ll find that reputable companies will insist that you use opt-in email lists. You might be saying, “I’ll just use a non-reputable email marketing vendor. ”

Alas, ESPs on shared IP addresses that don’t require customers to use opt-in email lists on average suffer poor deliverability. Why? One customer’s ill-gotten email address list can poison the deliverability of another customers on that shared IP address. You will want to hitch your wagon to the light side of the email marketing force if you want your emails to actually get into inboxes.

3. Good email address lists aren’t for sale.

Unless your company is in the exact middle of a merger or acquisition, you’re not likely to come across a high-quality email list you can purchase. If it’s for sale, it means the e-mail addresses on it have been deemed non-responsive or unqualified for marketing outreach.

While bought email addresses might’ve at one time had value, they’ve likely been spammed to the ends of the earth — otherwise, they’d still be in the desiring hands of the company trying to sell them. Think about it, can you sell or share the email addresses of these who have voluntarily opted in to receive email from you?

4. People on a purchased or rented list don’t know you.

I referenced this early in the day, but it’s worth going into some more detail on this subject. Rented and purchased lists are sometimes scraped from other websites, which, I think we can all agree, is a dirty way to acquire email marketing contacts.

But let’s say the email addresses you’re looking to purchase were maybe not extracted from another site but rather earned legitimately. Email list purchase and rental companies might tout that those lists are “opt-in. ” Sounds great, right?

Not really. Email addresses that belong to an “opt-in” list have opted to receive emails from, say, the list-purchasing company — not your company. Even if the opt-in process includes language like, “Opt-in to receive information from us, or offers from other companies we think you might enjoy, ” the fact is the recipient doesn’t recall having a prior relationship with you , specifically. This makes it highly likely for the recipients to mark you as “spam” when you arrive in their inboxes. Hey, if they don’t recognize you or remember opting into communications from you… can you blame them?

​​After all, the most commonplace type of spam is advertising-related email — accounting for approximately 36% of all spam messages.

This takes us to our next point.

5. You’ll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation.

Did you know there are organizations dedicated to combating email spam? Thank goodness, right? They set up a little thing called a honeypot, which is a planted email address that, when harvested and emailed, identifies the sender as a spammer. Similarly, things called spam traps could be created to identify spammy activity; they’re put up when an email address yields a hard bounce because it’s old or no longer valid, but still receives consistent traffic. Fishy, eh?

As a result, the e-mail address turns into a spam trap that stops returning the hard bounce notice, and instead accepts the message and reports the sender as a spammer.

If you purchase a list, you don’t have any way of confirming how often those email addresses have been emailed, whether the email addresses on that list have been scrubbed for hard bounces to stop identifying you as a spammer, or from where those email addresses originated.

Are you really willing to risk not just your email deliverability, but also the reputation of your IP address and your company? Even if you discover the light after purchasing or renting email lists and decide to only email those who have opted in with your company, it’ll take you months (or maybe years) to get your Sender Score up and rebuild the trustworthiness of your IP.

6. You can run into as annoying.

How do you like it once you get an email in your inbox from a company you’ve never heard of? I bet that’s not the kind of company you want to buy from or work for.

If someone did not ask to hear from you, it doesn’t mean they won’t want to hear from you later. It’s your job to prove to them — through helpful content and valuable offers — that they should stay up to date along with your company via email. If you force your email content on anyone too early, even if you know in your bones they’re a fantastic fit for your services or products, you risk preemptively losing their trust and their future business.

7. Your email company can penalize you.

Buying email lists doesn’t just damage your deliverability and brand reputation — it can also put your email account at an increased risk. Email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook don’t desire to be associated with accounts that recipients repeatedly flag as spam. Email service providers like AWeber go as far as straight away closing your account if it suspects you’re sending unwanted content.

If these consequences are too daunting, we came up with some alternatives to paid mailing lists that’ll gain your customers’ interests.

Paid Email List Alternatives

– Shift your outbound marketing strategy to inbound.

Buying mailing lists is another type of outbound marketing — it’s the method that pushes messaging out to potential customers. It’s not only costly, but it doesn’t guarantee a higher ROI as a result.

When you shift your strategy to inbound marketing, you’re repositioning your business to create brand awareness and customer relationships through content creation and social networking tactics.

2 . Conduct lead generation campaigns.

Lead generation may be the process of attracting prospects to your business and nurturing their interests with the goal of making them into customers. This can be achieved through effective marketing campaigns with enticing call-to-actions.

Some examples of lead gen campaigns include:

  • Sharing blog posts with informational content
  • Promoting product offerings across social media channels
  • Offering product trials or coupons that lead to your squeeze page

Your business will get creative with campaigns to better engage your audience, especially with this next point in your mind.

3. Show thought leadership throughout your content.

With the content your business shares to an audience, you have the ability to display thought leadership. This plan is used in content marketing to build trust and gain credibility in your field.

To become a thought leader, your business must display brand helpfulness through informative content like tutorials, listicles, and other posts that help your audience learn something new.

If you want to use both email marketing while implementing these alternatives, read on to observe how to do it right.

How to Grow an Opt-In Email List for Free

Now that you’ve learned a few ways to acquire email lists, let’s explore how you can acquire them through the third method stated earlier in this article — the opt-in method.

Generating your own personal list of email contacts who have opted in to receive content from you doesn’t just comply with legal regulations and protect your brand reputation. Additionally, it presents you with opportunities to grow this list through genuine relationships with clients. We’ve already discussing clever ways to start doing this, which you can check out here. But, here are the basic best practices that have a very big bang for their buck with regards to consistently growing a message list.

1 ) Create gated assets so there’s a basis for people to give you their email address.

Webinars, ebooks, templates, etc . — these are all good long-form, premium content assets that people may find valuable enough to give over their email address. The more gated assets you have to put behind landing pages, the better — a wider variety of content will make it easier for you to attract a wider swath of people.

repayments Create useful tools.

If ebooks aren’t your jam, create tools as an alternative. I don’t recommend a one-or-the-other approach, but if you have more development talent than writing talent, this might be a more attractive option for you. These tools can be valuable enough to some of your website visitors that they’ll trade you their email address for a free demo of the product you built. Then, for your first email, ask them what they thought of the tool. It’s the perfect icebreaker.

For example , we created Web site Grader — that will be free to use, but prompts you to input an email address. We also took a similar approach to a more recent tool, the Blog Topic Generator.

3. Promote those gated assets on your marketing channels.

Given that you have some gated assets that can capture email addresses, spend a considerable amount of time ensuring the world knows about them. You have a lot of channels at your disposal — social media, PPC, and email are common ones to turn to. But, none will provide lasting returns quite like your site. Consider this scenario:

You promote your brand-new gated assets by blogging about subject matters related to this content assets you’ve created. Put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on each of those blog posts.

Now let’s say your blog posts get about 100 views each month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about two per cent. That means you’d get two leads from the single blog post each month.

Then, let’s say you write 30 blog posts a month. Which means you’d get 60 leads in monthly — two from each blog post. Now keep doing that for a year. The work you did to blog that first month will continue steadily to drive leads over summer and winter. That means you’re actually getting 4, 680 opt-in contacts a month by the end of 12 months because of the compounding ramifications of blogging — not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

HubSpot contacts generated blogging compounding returns

4. Run creative e-mail marketing campaigns.

Many people don’t think of email as a lead- or contact-generating channel. But because people forward helpful emails to colleagues or friends, it can expand your database in the event that you simply make forwarding or sharing email content easy for recipients. Include calls-to-action in your emails that produce sharing an obvious choice for recipients, especially with your most useful assets.

If you have a pretty large database, you also likely involve some contacts that have gone quite stale. If that’s the case, I recommend running a re-engagement campaign that can help the two of you scrub your list and prevent the kind of spam and IP dilemmas I addressed earlier in the day, as well as reawaken old contacts that might have forgotten about you, but would actually be great fits for sales.

5. Include sharing buttons in your emails.

Consider adding share buttons to your email so your email recipients can forward the emails they liked most to friends and colleagues they think would like it, too.

Have a few different buttons on your email template: separate social media buttons that produce pre-written social posts linking to a webpage version of your email, and an “Email to a Friend” button that transfers the email into a compose window so your contacts can instantly forward the message. Just make sure your email has an opt-in button so each new viewer can subscribe to more emails from you if they like what they see.

Attract Customers without Breaking the Bank

There’s already a lot of noise your business must break through to get to your customers — so don’t let your paid email marketing efforts end in their spam box. Instead, we hope you use this article to devise a strategy to attract prospects with impressive content, assets, and tools that nurture them from leads to customer advocates.

This article was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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