Why Buying Email Lists Is Always a Bad Idea

While thousands of contacts are available with a credit card swipe, but your email marketing program – an important component of a well-rounded inbound marketing strategy – can suffer significantly. Are you curious why purchasing email lists is the kiss of death for legitimate email marketers? Continue reading.

1. You will violate the GDPR’s consent rules

The majority of email marketers worldwide are legally required to provide recipients with the ability to opt out of emails they no longer wish to receive. Contacts should be able to perform this action directly within the email message. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a European data privacy law that took effect in May 2018, strengthens this relationship’s opt-in component. Additionally, purchased email lists are not compliant.

The GDPR has altered numerous aspects of how a digital marketer uses customer data across Europe – on a website, on social media, and via email. You are not even required to work in Europe to be subject to the act’s jurisdiction; if your recipients reside in Europe, they are protected under the GDPR.

With the GDPR now regulating all email correspondence in Europe, simply including an opt-out option in your email template is no longer sufficient. To send emails to your contacts, you must obtain their explicit consent. In this case, explicit means that the checkbox a visitor must click to subscribe to an email newsletter is not pre-checked when they visit your website. And when you purchase email lists, the individuals on them are not given this option, putting you in violation of GDPR even before you send your first email.

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

If you’re currently using or intend to use email marketing software, you’ll find that reputable companies require you to use opt-in email lists. You may be thinking, “I’ll simply use a shady email marketing vendor.”

Unfortunately, ESPs that use shared IP addresses and do not require customers to opt-in to email lists typically have low deliverability. Why? A customer’s improperly obtained email address list can contaminate the deliverability of other customers sharing the same IP address. If you want your emails to actually reach inboxes, you’re going to want to align your wagon with the light side of the email marketing force.

3. High-quality email address lists are not available for sale

Unless your company is in the midst of a merger or acquisition, you are unlikely to come across a purchaseable high-quality email list. If it is for sale, it means that the email addresses contained within have been deemed unresponsive or unsuitable for marketing outreach.

While purchased email addresses may have had value at one point, they have almost certainly been spammed to the ends of the earth – otherwise, they would still be in the hands of the company selling them. Consider this: Would you sell or share the email addresses of those who have opted in voluntarily to receive your emails?

4. You’ll jeopardize your email’s deliverability and IP reputation

Are you aware that there are organizations dedicated to the fight against email spam? They establish a small device known as a honeypot, which is a planted email address that, when harvested and emailed, identifies the sender as a spammer. Similarly, spam traps can be set up to detect spammy activity; they are activated when an email address generates a hard bounce due to being old or invalid, but continues to receive consistent traffic.

As a result, the email address becomes a spam trap, accepting the message and reporting the sender as a spammer.

If you purchase a list, you have no way of knowing how frequently those email addresses have been emailed, whether they have been scrubbed for hard bounces to avoid being identified as a spammer, or where those email addresses originated.

Are you truly willing to take a risk with not only your email deliverability, but also the reputation of your IP address and business? Even if you see the light after purchasing or renting email lists and decide to email only those who have opted in to receive communications from your company, it will take months (or possibly years) to raise your Sender Score and repair your IP’s reputation.

5. Your email service provider may impose a charge against you.

Purchasing email lists can have a negative impact on your deliverability and brand reputation, but it can also jeopardize your email account. Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook do not want to be associated with accounts that recipients flag as spam repeatedly. Email service providers such as AWeber will terminate your account immediately if they suspect you of sending unwanted content.

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