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Do you remember when you first learned about email marketing? In most cases, one of the first things you learn is about the importance of building an email list.

Building an email list represents the foundation of a successful email marketing campaign. But doing so takes time and effort, and there aren’t a lot of shortcuts.

Some marketers believe they don’t have the time to build an email list, so they decide to hack the process by buying one. They reason that at the end of the day, a subscriber is a subscriber, and the email marketing stats prove it works, right?

If you agree with this, then you need to make a step back and reconsider your decision. Buying an email database is one of the most dangerous business decisions you can make.

We’re sharing why you should never buy an email database, as well as advice on what to do instead.

Why buying an email database is a bad decision

There is only one way to have an email list, and that’s by growing it. Buying lists is an out-of-date tactic that won’t get you far.

Buying a list is, as the name suggests, when someone purchases a list with a certain amount of email addresses. This can include name, phone numbers, location, verification, and more. Some services promise many things, like deliverability rate, accuracy, and more, yet they rarely work.

When you build a list, you need to attract and convert people to give you their email addresses. You also need to validate the emails with a double-opt in process, which gives you the permission to email them.

Here’s why buying an email database is a bad decision.

It’s ethically wrong

Buying an email database is morally wrong. After all, you’re buying a list of email addresses without subscribers’ consent. This is a violation of their privacy, and it won’t endear them to you.

Not only is buying an email database unethical, but it’s also likely to result in bad results for your business.

ESPs will ban you

Email service providers (ESPs) won’t allow a user to add a list without a double opt-in, unless you are migrating a list from another ESP and can guarantee that you verified the list in the past.

If the ESP finds that their user is sending spammy emails (based on the responses of the recipients), it can ban you from their email system. Therefore, you will quickly lose all your email business.

You will spend your money on useless emails

The companies that sell lists can have old inactive emails in them, which means some of the emails won’t get opened. Therefore, you will spend money on emails that are worth nothing.

What’s more, spam-detection software like SpamAssassin can detect if the sender is a spammer and send all their emails to the recipient’s spam folder without any action from the recipient.

Subscribers will ignore you

Your ultimate goal is to make people do something valuable for your business, whether that’s signing up for a webinar, buy a product, or hire you for your services.

When you buy an email list of people who don’t know (or trust) you, they will ignore your emails. Even if the ESPs don’t ban you or if the emails are verified, these subscribers are highly unlikely to respond to your messages.

How to build an engaged list that you own

Give away value that serves your audience

You need to put your audience before yourself if you want subscribers to trust you. With so many companies using email, it’s hard to stand out in their inbox. If you focus on providing subscribers with valuable content, you will gain your audience’s attention. Once you have their attention, then you can start getting the results you desire.

The idea of giving before taking can manifest itself in many ways, the most common ones include giving away:

  • Discounts and offers, particularly by first-time shoppers in e-commerce stores
  • Ebooks, also known as lead magnets
  • Free courses sent by email

Segment, segment, segment

Realtors have one golden rule: location, location, location. Email marketers, consequently, have their own: segment, segment, segment.

Your list is made up of people with different needs, demographics, and behaviors. That’s why you need to segment it based on those attributes, which then will let you follow the other golden rule of email marketing: be relevant.

Email marketing works, but only when people want to open your emails, click through them, and act on your offers. If your emails aren’t relevant, why would anyone want to open them? Even if you gave money away, relevance plays a crucial role in making your emails more effective.

Segmentation allows you to find the right audience for your emails, which then helps you deliver the email at the time they most need it. The segmentation could be based on demographic, behavioral, or professional data you have.

The high relevance of welcome emails explain their performance: on average, 320% more revenue is attributed to them on a per email basis than other promotional emails.

Make email subscription easy

If you want to get people to subscribe to your email list, you need to make it easy to do so! If you hide your opt-in boxes and use ambiguous copy, it will hard to persuade people to give their personal information to your company.

To make the opt-in process easy for your users, the first thing you have to do is to add an email list building tool on your site, like Sumo and OptinMonster, among others.

Second, you need to use more than one opt-in tactic. You can use email pop-ups, slider, welcome mats, or embedded opt-in forms. Whichever tactic you choose, make sure to use more than one.

The reason behind this idea is in the difference in which people experience different opt-in forms. Some people will dislike welcome mats, while they won’t mind a slider. Other people will have a complete opposite experience.

Wrap up

In simple terms, buying an email list won’t do any good to your business; people won’t open your emails, trust you, and act on your offers. Even if it takes you more time, you need to build and own a list. Most importantly, you need to get started before you even need one, so if you haven’t gotten started, challenge yourself to start today.

About the Author Ivan Kreimer
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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