Why Purchasing an Email List is a Really Bad Idea

Published by: Mira Martinez    |   Category: Bad Marketing Ideas, Blog, Email List, Reputation    

So you came up with a brilliant plan to find new customers; Buy an Email List. Think Again!


Purchased Email ListIf you are looking for ways to find new customers and increase sales, you may be considering the purchase of an email list. A simple search of Google will produce a plethora of companies who will be happy to take your money and provide you a list of email addresses that purport to be a specific demographic or contain email addresses of individuals who meet your desired criteria. In most cases, purchased email lists do not provide useful, valuable or even valid and deliverable email addresses. Worse still, beyond simply being ineffective, purchased lists can actually cause serious problems for your business. In hopes of convincing you to put your credit card away and not waste your marketing dollars on a useless, junk email list, let’s take a look at how these lists are built and then consider the kind of damage that they can do to your company’s brand and reputation.

Poor Quality Data

One of the fundamental problems with purchased email lists is that they’re riddled with defunct and undeliverable email addresses. This is because lists are often compiled by scraping the Internet for email addresses that are listed on websites, resulting in a high number of info@ and sales@ type role accounts that are unlikely to generate a response. Some companies also include addresses collected from things like online surveys, where people frequently provide fake or throwaway email addresses. In other words, purchased email lists are similar to junkyards, except they’re not filled with old rusting cars. Instead, purchased lists are littered with obsolete, undeliverable, old, dead and long-forgotten email addresses that will not help you land a single new client.

Low Response Rate

It’s obvious that sending your message to dead or junk email addresses will not help you win new clients or increase sales. There is a remote possibility that a purchased list will get your message into a few active inboxes. Chances are fairly high that the people who receive your message will not bother reading it or taking action on what you are peddling. The most likely action they will take, is to complain about it, delete it or send it straight to the junk folder, ensuring that all other email advertisements you send their way will receive the same treatment, without the need to ever see anything sent by you or your company ever again.

If you have ever received an unsolicited call from a telemarketer, usually around dinner time, and hung up before they managed to say four words, then you already know why emailing people who didn’t opt in for your emails is a terrible idea. People on your purchased email list will do just what you do with telemarketers: Before they even read four words of your subject line, they’ll have sent your email to the spam folder.

Damage to Your Brand

Getting bad data and having a low response rate are obviously negative aspects of using a purchased email list. But these are minor problems when compared to the severe and, in some cases, irreparable harm that using a purchased list can cause your company. If you send emails to a purchased list from your own mail server, you’re placing your business at significant risk. Many people are likely to complain about your email or route your unsolicited message to the spam folder. These things do significant damage to your brand and your reputation, increase the likelihood that your server will be blacklisted, and if your ISP thinks you’re using their connectivity and IP address to spam, can even put your ability to maintain Internet access in jeopardy.

Using an ESP to Send to your Purchased Email List

If you are thinking that you could purchase a list and instead of using your own email server, send messages out using an Email Service Provider (ESP), think again: Reputable ESPs will not allow you to send to purchased lists. Even if you managed to get a purchased list loaded into a reputable ESPs platform, chances are high that the deception would quickly be discovered, you would be banned and in search of a new ESP. As you might expect, there are some shady ESPs out there who will allow you to send emails to purchased lists. The reason for this is simple. They can charge you a much higher fee than normal but your lackluster results will be the same.


Tempting as it may be to purchase an email list in the hopes of getting your message out to thousands of would-be customers, the risks are simply too high. Purchased lists are filled with junk, junk that can have a very real and very negative impact on your brand and reputation. Worse still, these purchased lists can prevent you from being able to effectively operate your business. In short, if you are looking for a wise marketing investment, avoid purchasing an email list.

If you have already purchased an email list and have not sent to it, I’ll leave you with some sage advice. Find the list you purchased and highlight it by clicking only once on it with your mouse. On the right hand side of your keyboard you will see a group of keys which consist of mainly numbers. Just to the left of this group, you will see a small section consisting of 5 keys. In the top right corner is the “End” key. In the lower left corner is the “Delete” key. Press It.


Related Reading: Email Marketing – Don’t Be the Biggest Moron in the Room


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