Why Renting Third-Party Email Lists for Email Marketing is a Great Idea

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing    

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I could feel the termites coming out of the woodwork as I finished typing the title of this article.

The naysayers and online marketing experts attempting to keep up appearances and trying to be politically correct. “Oh-No, you should never rent an email list”. Yea, right! Third party email marketing, whether for Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C) is a great way of finding new customers and can be an awesome resource for new, fresh leads.

Let’s look at both sides of the argument for a moment.

The first argument is permission. The claim that no permission was given so it’s spam. We’re not talking about sending Viagra ads, Canadian Pharmacy or the constant non-stop garbage (spam) we all seem to receive on a daily basis. We are talking about a one-time email marketing campaign offering a legitimate product or a service to a qualified, opt-in email address. These people signed up and gave permission to the company, their affiliates and partners to send them email solicitations. There is also an unsubscribe mechanism if the recipient no longer wishes to receive emails. All they need to do is click the link to be unsubscribed. If the subscriber is under the impression that they did not give permission to the sender, I would likely suggest they read the terms and conditions prior to signing up and accepting them.

The second argument is performance. I love this argument – Sending to a third-party email list only performs at a 10-12% conversion ratio, while sending to our own, internal customer list performs at 35-38% conversion ratio consistently. WOW, really! You mean that sending an email marketing campaign to your existing customers performs better than sending to people who have never heard your company name or made a purchase from you before? Shocking – I can’t believe it. Yes, they’re not all brain surgeons when it comes to arguing this concept and it’s done more than you could imagine.

How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Company for your campaign deployment.

Selecting the right partner for your third-party email marketing campaign isn’t always easy. Many companies overlook some basic, key aspects of selecting a third-party email service provider. Making the right choice is imperative, because your brand and reputation are at stake. Spend as much time selecting this company as you would hiring a key employee.  Do your homework to ensure you don’t get stuck with a spammer in sheep’s clothing.

Ultimately, success will be determined by the professionalism, expertise and knowledge of the company you choose. Below are a few crucial things to consider when making this important decision.

  1. Email Data Quality – The company you select to work with should have a large, diversified email database which should allow targeting based on geographic and demographic information, tailored towards your product or service. You should be able to browse their rentable email lists and select the best list criteria for your campaign. Take the time to pick up the phone and speak with someone at the company to make sure they are legitimate and trustworthy.
  2. Valid and Deliverable Email – Make sure that the email list is valid and deliverable. Ensure that the company you are working with will have the email data cleaned and validated, prior to your campaign deployment. This will ensure they’re not sending to dead or undeliverable email addresses. What’s the point in paying a company to send to 50,000 emails when 30,000 of them are dead or invalid.
  3. Email Creative Design – Make sure you have a good email design that is responsive (will display correctly on a mobile device – smartphone or iPad). Creating a well-designed email ad isn’t easy. If you don’t have a graphic designer and coder on staff, you can always hire a reputable company to design and build your email creative
  4. Landing Page Design – If you are successful enough with your email campaign deployment and lucky enough to have your email ad delivered to a user’s inbox, opened, read and have the user click the ad to go to your landing page, you want to make sure you have a well-crafted page to sell your wares. Make sure your headlines and message (body text) are clear and concise. Your headlines should compel a visitor to take action. Be direct and to the point. Have a clear call-to-action message and a simple way for the user to complete the transaction.
  5. Company Reputation – Do your homework – Don’t be lazy. Do a simple web search and review on the company you plan to work with. Take a look at their BBB (Better Business Bureau) ranking and see if their website is filled with useful information or simply contains thin content and provides no additional benefit to any of it’s readers. This should give you a good idea of how legitimate the company is and if they’ll be a worthwhile partner. Most importantly, pick up the phone and call them. Speak to someone at the company and make sure they sound knowledgeable, intelligent and can answer all of your questions without saying, “it’s a company secret” or “we don’t give out that information”. Make sure they answer ALL of your questions. If they sound fishy or your gut tells you to run, do yourself a favor and run fast.

Related: Landing Page Optimization in 8 Easy Steps


Don’t let the big-and-bad, all-knowing marketing experts lead you down the path of “NO”. Just because they think they can dazzle you with shiny objects and complex marketing theories, doesn’t mean they have a clue what they’re talking about. Take back control of your inbound marketing strategy without being scared of the so-called expert who say’s you shouldn’t do it. Third-Party Email Marketing is a phenomenal tool and an accepted practice that more people should use to drive traffic, sales and generate new leads.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

14 Responses to Why Renting Third-Party Email Lists for Email Marketing is a Great Idea

  1. Steve says:

    While I would tend to agree with you, most of the universe will not – simply because (I believe) they’re afraid. We use 3rd party email lists all the time and they work great, as long as we stick to a quality source. Besides the high and mighty anti-spam clowns, there are the people who are afraid to speak up simply because they fear the “spam gods” or maybe the “spam reaper” will come down upon them and strike their email into the spam folder.

    Nice article and excellent points. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jessica Ramsey says:

    Renting an email list is the most cost effective, easiest and profitable way to generate new sales, leads and traffic to your website, PERIOD.

  3. Jose says:

    Renting a list sucks because you can never see the people in the list, only use it one time and it isn’t cheap. I want to own the emails. I would buy a list, then I could mail to it as much as I want.

  4. Ross H. says:

    Intelligent as well as dumb (stupid – short yellow bus folk) are equally capable of making asinine comments, as seen in the one above. The question isn’t “if” you’ll encounter a really stupid comment, but rather how long will it take for one to appear and how do you respond to them when they do eventually show up?

    Jose – Besides the fact that you should probably read the article above before commenting on it, your comment is not simply stupid but not worthy of a response.

    Now go get your shine box because the short yellow bus is coming down the street.

  5. John B. says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree.

    I have been involved in email marketing for over eleven years on the email deliverability side. While renting or buying a list may give you an initial bang for your buck, it almost always ultimately results in increased complaints and lower open and click rates, all of which diminish your sender reputation resulting in junk/bulk folder delivery (or worse) instead of the inbox. In the end your good customers and addresses won’t see your emails and you are then digging yourself out of a deliverability hole.

    There may be ways around that to “game the system”, but the ISPs are VERY smart these days and your brand and domains WILL be flagged as being spam. Regardless of what the author says, sending email to an address that did not SPECIFICALLY request it from you is by definition spam, whether they “agreed” to the terms and conditions described or not. Don’t risk it. If you do end up using a rented or purchased list, use the addresses sparingly and only as a small percentage of your list. Finally, if you are mailing to any address located in Canada (and who knows if a Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, etc. address is in Canada), it is very unlikely that you will be seen as complying with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) which is much stricter that the US CAN-SPAM laws and have resulted in very large fines.

    The author tells you to “Do your homework to ensure you don’t get stuck with a spammer in sheep’s clothing.” – When you send to a rented or purchased list, that is exactly what YOU will become.


  6. Steve O. says:

    Sounds like the author of the article is not the person who has to deal with the ramifications of using a “rented list”: FBL complaints, direct abuse desk complaints, elevated invalid bounce rates and telling the client that imported and sent mail to a third party rented list that their account at “ESP” has been canceled due to the poor performance of the rented list.
    List cleaning services may be able to purge a percentage of problematic addresses but they can’t determine if an address consented to receive email.
    WOW – “These people signed up and gave permission to the company, their affiliates and partners to send them email solicitations.” “If the subscriber is under the impression that they did not give permission to the sender, I would likely suggest they read the terms and conditions prior to signing up and accepting them.”
    The problem is, if I really want a product or service from “THE VENDOR” but in order for me to complete the transaction I need to 1) provide my email address and 2) AGREE to the TOS then I’m not really consenting/opting in to receive future email, am I? There should be a SEPARATE mailing list opt in for “THE VENDOR”, not tied to a purchase or contest or request for a one-off piece of information, where I can check the box MYSELF to join their mailing list as well as a list of or link to “THE VENDOR’s” affiliated companies/organizations where I can make the decision about opting into one, all or none of those affiliated mailing lists.
    By burying the fact that “these people signed up and gave permission to the company, their affiliates and partners to send them email solicitations.” in a TOS statement is a backhanded way of telling “these people” that, as a company, you don’t care about them, their wishes or their choices. If a company is so sure that someone “WANTS” to receive ongoing mailings/solicitations from them and any other company they are associated with, why aren’t they proudly displaying this information in large bold type as part of their confirmed opt-in mailing list subscription page?

  7. Steve G. says:

    A lot of truth in this article. Go to nearly any forum and you will see how many people tell you to never do it. Sure, you can have a bad experience but I have also had a bad experience emailing to my customer list.

    Is it worth it? Yes, it is.

    If you have access to the list, clean it with Email Answers first to remove the obvious issues.

  8. Lee says:

    This article is spot on. I think most companies are afraid of the anti-spam a-holes who think they run things and what they say matters.


  9. Vinny G. says:

    I read your article and then read through all of the comments. While I agree and think the article addresses a solid misconception regarding third-party email marketing, the dissenting commenters below seem to disagree and then start spewing nonsense. Nowhere in your article does it discuss buying email lists, but the comments below talk about buying email lists and how bad it is. You specifically discuss lower open and click rates, but the disagreeing commenters talk about how opens and clicks are lower. They also discuss sender reputation, but they’re not the sender of the email so WTF does it matter? I feel like I’m stuck between watching Fox News and an episode of the Twilight Zone.

    Do you people read? Your arguments are ridiculous. Read the article and comment on it. Don’t make shit up and just add in stupid crap simply to try and enhance your position – Use logic and common sense.

    Then there is this; “Regardless of what the author says, sending email to an address that did not SPECIFICALLY request it from you is by definition spam, whether they “agreed” to the terms and conditions described or not.” I would love to use that argument with my mortgage company. I don’t care what the mortgage agreement I signed and agreed to says, I am not going to allow you to collect my money anymore for something I previously agreed to even though I didn’t read what I agreed to.

    Get a brain you morons…..

  10. Kevin J. says:

    Our company uses rented email lists about 2-3 times per month and it generates roughly $30-$35k in additional revenue each month. With an out of pocket cost/expense of $6-$8k, it generates a 5to1 or 400% ROI. Not bad for marketing filler…..

  11. John B. says:

    Curious why you did not approve the reply I left for Vinny?

  12. Andrew Paul says:

    John – Your comment wasn’t approved because I felt it wasn’t adding to the conversation. You were addressing statements and comments that had already been discussed by you and others and had been fully debated.

    You were also commenting on statements made by others and your rebuttal was not on target and went off down an irrelevant rabbit hole, which I felt wasn’t adding to the conversation.

    I’m happy to post the majority of comments and people’s thoughts, but they must be relevant and on target to the conversation and statements at hand.