Recognized as a tradeable commodity in the digital world, data (which includes your email list) is under constant scrutiny. This naturally comes with laws governing how you use your lists.
Legal or not, it’s always best practice to be transparent and honest with your audience. Being forward-facing with your subscribers builds brand loyalty and affinity, and forms a deeper relationship between you and your audience.
Subscribers and consumers deserve to know who they’re being contacted by, why, and how their contact information has been given to a brand.
New legislation—like the EU’s GDPR and CCPA in California—reinforce the need for transparency highlighted by best practice guidance.
Keep in mind, an email crosses borders very easily. You should consult with your own legal counsel to determine which regulations your brand is subject to, and how your brand wants to handle those regulations.
What are the exceptions to selling email lists?
From Campaign Monitor’s perspective, we require all subscribers on your list to be opted in, which would bar a Campaign Monitor customer from purchasing a list. Again, as outlined above, this stance also aligns with general email marketing best practices.
There are many risks involved in sharing anyone’s personal information, including loss of reputation or potential legal repercussions.
Would changing my opt-in model help?
You may think you can always send out another email requesting subscribers to opt-in for additional promotional material. Changing the signup conditions will give you a newly segmented list, with only the group that may want to receive additional offers included.
The problem with this idea is: So much of email marketing depends on trust, and it would probably have little effect.
Once someone provides you with consent to contact them, they want to know you won’t abuse that trust in the future. Attempting to change how you intend to use their information can immediately create suspicion and alter how people view all future communication with you.
How to measure your email lists
You’ll want to pay attention to which emails are landing in spam folders. Both recipients and email service providers can direct your emails to go to the spam folder, and this usually indicates that they consider your consent model to be suspicious or flawed.
Does it really matter?
One of the primary reasons why email marketing remains effective is due to the consent model. If you’re serious about using email to grow your business, you know how much effort goes into curating an accurate list.
By breaching the trust of your subscribers, you’re risking the effectiveness of your email marketing. You’ll likely see engagement go down, unsubscribes go up, and more and more of your messages getting marked as spam. Internet and email service providers pay close attention to their customers’ habits, and they will downgrade your sending reputation if their customers keep moving your emails into their spam folders.
As you probably know, selling your email list is not a good idea. While it may violate some regulations and damage your sending reputation, it also reduces the trust between you and your subscribers, ultimately wasting the time and budget you’ve invested in email marketing.
Check out our additional information about why it’s a bad idea to buy email lists.