I quite often get asked, “should I buy an email list?”

But sometimes people don’t even ask. Instead they just go right ahead and buy it and then ask afterwards whether or not it was money well spent.

In fact, just last week, one of our clients from within our Digital Marketing Mentoring Program sent me the stats from an email marketing broadcast that they sent to a purchased list to see whether or not the results were any good. 

Now let me start by saying, that purchasing a list was definitely not a strategy that we suggested they do. They did this without first seeking advice as to whether or not this would be a good idea. 

Email metrics from a purchased list

The stats that they grabbed from their email marketing tool a week or so after the broadcast was sent were as follows:

  • 548 Recipients
  • 111 Opened
  • 6 Clicked
  • 92 Bounced
  • 16 Unsubscribed

I wrote a very detailed response outlining why these results were not good, which was very much appreciated. 

So it made me think that I should probably share my response on the Impactiv8 blog so that more people can learn from this BEFORE purchasing an email list themselves. 

Here it is…

Why you should NOT buy an email list

Hi {name withheld}

Those stats are not good at all. I would really advise against purchasing lists. 

The main reason for this is the number of bounced and unsubscribes. 17% of your addresses were bounces and 3% were unsubscribes. That’s 20% of your list that would be considered ‘dirty’ by your email service provider (i.e. the system you are sending your emails from). Most reputable email service providers would blacklist your account with those numbers. Do this too often and you will get booted off their platform. 

That’s because it’s actually against the terms and conditions of email marketing platforms for to use imported lists that have not opted in to receive communications from you. They do this to protect their email server reputation so that they can maintain good delivery rates for all customers.

They ask you to acknowledge that at the time of upload. Stats like this indicate that your list did not give you explicit permission to email them, and that you are therefore in breach of their T&C’s.

Also, what you didn’t indicate, which is important, is how many of that 3% that unsubscribed marked the reason for doing so as a SPAM related complaint (e.g. I never signed up for the list).

Industry best practices tell us that a SPAM rate at or below 0.1% (one tenth of one percent) is acceptable. It is likely from your figure that much more than 0.1% people would’ve marked your email as SPAM. 

The open numbers aren’t anything to get excited about these days either. It looks like you’ve got a 20% open rate. In the past, that may have been considered a good open rate. But since Apple implemented its iOS15 privacy updates, open rates are now unreliable. This is because the Apple servers are effectively reporting all emails that are delivered via their mail clients to any of the people who have opted out of tracking as ‘opens’. 

We are seeing some of our clients that were previously getting 20% open rates now getting 50-60% open rates. This would indicate that you probably didn’t get 111 actual opens, as these numbers will definitely be overinflated. 

So really the only metric you have to go by is clicks. You got 6 of them. How much did you pay for 6 clicks? How many of them then took your desired action? 

Then on top of this, if you keep sending to lists that provide you with similar stats, you are going to find that you are hit at the other end also. The big mail providers (i.e. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) are going to start to blacklist your domain and you won’t get inbox placement. They are filtering harder and faster and taking more extreme measures these days, so that even if your email service provider will let you send, you will struggle to get into inboxes at the other end. 

So basically, I don’t recommend the practice of buying lists for all of these reasons. PLUS, it is highly unlikely that someone will buy from you because you send them an email that they never opted in for. Therefore, you will be wasting your time, money and domain reputation. Not a great long term strategy for the business. 



So, should I buy an email list?

So the moral to the story is…

Don’t buy email an email list.

Not only are you wasting your time, money and domain reputation by doing so. You’re also ruining email marketing for the rest of us.

People who buy email lists also compromise the reputation of the servers that your emails are sent from (i.e. your email marketing platform), potentially also negatively impacting those people who are sticking to the rules, but just happen to be sending from the same servers as you and your dodgy practices.

PLUS, you’re giving email marketing a bad reputation. So just STOP!

And in case you didn’t hear that the first time and are still thinking of doing this. PLEASE don’t buy an email list.

What should I do instead of buying an email list?

If you would like to learn best practice strategies for building, nurturing and converting a list of highly engaged email subscribers, then I invite you to join the Click Engage Convert Academy and work your way through our Money Making Email Marketing training sessions, as well as our Awesome Opt-ins training.

  • As part of this training we step you through:
  • Email marketing best practice
  • Using email marketing to build brand equity
  • Different types of opt-ins
  • Opt-in nurture sequences and email copy template
  • Long term nurture sequences
  • Subject lines & split testing
  • Email deliverability
  • The ‘must have’ Email marketing automation workflows/campaigns and copy templates

Through this training and the ongoing support that you get from the Impactiv8 team as a member of the Click Engage Convert Academy, you’ll be able to start leveraging email marketing so that it can be a money making channel for your business.

Join here: https://clickengageconvert.com