Buy Email List: 15 reasons that made me build an email list & not buy it

Source: Optin Monster

Of course, Many businesses are flourishing online with only social media or content marketing and find Email Marketing orthodox. But wait for a second, they still have direct access to its users. There’s a reason why an email list is a gold mine for big names like Google, Facebook, Oracle, you name it. But how did they have this huge list of user base? Obviously, they did not buy email list. They’ve earned each and every user in that list. This tells me how important Email Marketing is to scale and grow a business exponentially.

In fact, all the social media companies require your email id to register on their platform. They know the value of building it the hard way. There should be some wreck that they’ve seen that made them take this long route. Not to forget the ROI(return on investment) through an email is skyrocketing day by day. For the records, it’s 4300% ROI that an email gives the marketer.

In this post, I will share 15 reasons why buying an email list is useless and why you need an email list and how to build it. Brace yourself, it’s as usual, a long post.

This post is divided into two major sections.

#1 Reasons why you should never buy/rent an email list

#2 Ninja Techniques to build an email list on your own

Without taking any more time, let me take you to the ride.

15 Reason Why You Should Never Buy Email List

#13 Email Address Vs Subscriber

If you are planning to grow your business in terms of user base and monetize the number of subscribers, you will need more than just an email address database in your armory. You should be building a list of people who are interested in your products/services. Who are on edge of their seats to get an email from you. Who are always excited to open and see what you’ve served them through one of the closest doorways to them.

Subscribers are potential customers whom you can target by using their behavioral data. A subscriber added your ebook in his/her cart and did not check out, send a reminder email, or send an email with special discount exclusively for him/her. You can play with these behaviors, thanks to the data you collected.

This data is never possible in case email addresses. Those are just records who’s spam box you are going to land in. If you compute the data, you will find very less margin of profit. Not even to satisfy the ROI on the email database you bought.

#12 Uncertain Quality Of The List

Many companies that illegally collect emails to trade often make a false claim about the quality. The list is never a good quality. In spite of NOT recommending, even if you end up buying it more than often you will find:

  1. The data in the list is incomplete: Many fields like email ids, full name, DOB and other necessary details will be missing.
  2. Outdated information: Many times, the list is not updated with latest records. The list may contain email ids of the dead, inactive or deactivated ones.
  3. Against CAN-SPAM Act: Obviously, the email ids are illegally collected hence opening the gates CAN-SPAM act, to act on your deeds.

Falling under defaulter list of CAN-SPAM act will land you to pay the fine of $16,000 per email that you’ve ever sent so far. Ouch!

And guess, would you even make $16,000 with that list?

A big NO.

While it sounds sweet to have thousands of email id from day one of your business but answer me, is it worth? Had I not know these reasons I’d be calculating something like this.

Buy email list of 10,000 ids. Sending them promotional emails regularly. Even if 5% converts, with an average sale of $500, that would make $500 from 500 people from that list. That makes $250,000 a month.

That’s a lot of money. Right?


It doesn’t work that way. Since the email ids are of total strangers, the conversion rate is way behind that this number. You won’t even make enough to pay the bills of the email service provider.

Which bring me to the next reason.

#11 Email Service Provider May Penalize/Ban/Sue You

Email service providers are very very specific about the spam policies. Based on these policies, their licenses are sanctioned. Don’t expect them to let go this very act of yours. There is very less chance that your email will even be opened by the recipients. Even if they happen to open it and if they mark your email as spam once, there is a very high chance that your next email will land in the SPAM folder.

Furthermore, if you explicitly get marked as spam then you might end up facing unfriendly consequences from the email service provider’s end. Many big names in this space like Mailchimp, Aweber, Get Response, Infusion Soft and ConvertKit etc do not entertain to send emails in this fashion. It’s pointless to spend hundreds of dollars to buy email list and reap nothing out of it.

Here’s the strict agreement that you have to agree while signing up for Aweber, one of the most popular email service provider.

#10 Your Image Will Be Of A Spammer

Considering the shorter attention span of humans these days, if you buy email list and send emails to them, there are chances that your email will be straight away marked as SPAM. A couple of times more and you will lose the chance to grow as a brand.

I don’t mean to say that your intentions are to spam them. Though you’ve written a brilliant piece of content and want to let the end users know about it. But if you email list and deliver emails, you are hitting nails in your business’s coffin by yourself.

Another thing to consider and pay attention to is one of the ways the mailing list companies fill their databases with business email lists.

Remember those forms where a lot of fields awaits you, and you fill it up without seeing checkboxes that says “You accept to receive promotional emails”?

Those accidental opt-in also lead to land in such databases which you buy email list from. Such email has a very high rate of being marked as SPAM.

#9 Duplicate List To Many Buyers

Now imagine this. You buy email list for $100 and the same list is sold to someone else for $100. Both the buyers have a different business niche and have a different approach to the email addresses.

Same list, different business niche, worst combo.

Now imagine a worser situation. Same email list with the same business niche. What would be the conversion rate? Not even 1%. And how did you spend to buy email database? $100. Did you make that much? No.

#8 Poor Response Rate

Ideally, a typical email marketing campaign has 20%-25% as open rate. Since you are sending emails to an irrelevant audience what would be the conversion rate? 10%? 5%? 2%?

It’s less than 1%

The reason behind this is that the people who are receiving your emails don’t even know why are they receiving it. Hence, even if the subject line is catchy, they will not even open the emails. Forget about taking actions.

Admit it. We too receive such emails, we seldom open it. How can you expect your email to be opened by the users from that list? Simply reaching inbox doesn’t guarantee you a good open rate and hence a good conversion rate.

You spend money to buy email database, configure the email service, draft the template and deliver it. This much to see a poor conversion/open rate? Not fair right?

#7 Business Reputation Goes Down

How would that feel if you are just starting up with a brand and find your top spot on Google? Giving a cosmetic touch, a lot of users ranting about your business for sending irrelevant emails to them. Worst would be if they mention they did not opt to join the email list.

How about a social share of such incident? Or reporting this to Google, or any other search engine giant? Where do you find the reputation of your business? It is a crucial aspect that determines your growth as a business person. If you value reputation more than money, then I’m sure you are not going to buy email list.

#6 Penalized By CAN-SPAM Act

Many countries abide by the CAN-SPAM Act making it difficult for you to send unsolicited emails. Again, I don’t say you are in the wrong lane. It’s just spamming is not allowed and a serious legal offense. If many of those subscribers complain about the emails you send out, it will prove to be a big reason for your income to go as fine.

Furthermore, you should know that the list contains people from various countries. And if you buy email list and send emails to them, you are breaking anti-spamming laws of those many countries.

#5 No Reputable Marketer Recommends It

Surf where ever you want, consult whomever you can. None of them will recommend this method. It’s in their experience that they say so. Buying email list has never been fruitful unless you verify the interest of each of the email address owners. If the people on the list have the same interest that is of your business, then it can be turn out to be fruitful to some extent.

But to reap full-fledged benefits, you should build a list on your own. Furthermore, this is probably the only area where everyone agrees and is against this practice.

#4 Good Email List Aren’t For Sale

By a good email list, I mean highly relevant and convertible email list. One which you’ve earned the hard way. It will stay longer, convert better, spread the word and become a repeating customer/user. There’s a reason why no one in the market shares their email list with anyone, no matter what. They know the value of that list and hence don’t want to share.

The quality of that email list so high that a person who has built it from scratch will only know it. Some of the reason I can see is that the emails sent to those people convert better, the open rates is comparatively higher, they know you and your brand and most importantly they trust your brand and rely on it.

#3 People On The List Don’t Know You

To build a brand from scratch it takes a lot of people to trust. If you can win your audience’s trust, you win everything. This very element is missing in the case where you buy email list. You have people, thousands of people in front of you but none of them are interested in you, nor do they know you.

Establishing trust in your dedicated audience is the second most toughest thing to do. First is building an email list. If you tap the right chords, you will generate living marketers open to the public that will bring you business without spending a penny on advertising. This magical thing is no way possible if you rent/buy email database.

Adding to this, the people on the list haven’t heard your company’s name or you and hence there is a good chance of reporting the email as spam. You won’t like that. Will you?

#2 Do Not Make It To The Inbox

Okay. This is overdone, but it is super important. Most of the emails that you send to a purchased email list, you are more like to land in spam box of the recipient. Reason being the fact that most ISPs recycle email addresses as spam traps. The basic idea behind this practice is that a dormant email address cannot opt-in for an signup. So the ISPs recognize the sender as the spammer and by default places the emails in the SPAM box.

If by chance, an email makes it to the inbox and if the user marks it as spam, then the email service provider will not spare you.

It’s simple as that.

#1 Targeting and Personalisation

As discussed in #3 reason, that the people on the list do not know you. The same thing holds true for you. You don’t know them and to give the best-personalized experience, you should know a lot about them. This can happen only if they themselves tell you by filling up the signup form.

A good email campaign is beyond one or two emails to a single user. Every email is actually drafted to know more and more about the end user. Unlike social media, this practice doesn’t spy on them. You know their behavior by serving them everything you have noticing what they pick, or if they’ve picked already making them understand the importance of it so that they consume it.

Your goal should be to slowly capture their behavior, pattern, and interests over a period of time. Email address won’t alone do the trick. Discovering meaningful data along the subscription process is called progressive profiling. Depending on the niche you are in, the data would vary. You should exactly know what data would you need to personalize the experience for every single user. Trust me, you can do it.

Bonus #1 Quality over Quantity

It’s natural to be tempted to know more about subscribers and have more subscribers. You believe in more the better, it’s okay I understand. But remember, this is fruitful only if the quality of both numbers is maintained. You wouldn’t want your users/subscribers to regret signing up since you flood their inbox for leads. Catch here is the quality. If your subscribers feel this way, somewhere you must have compromised the quality of email that you’ve sent. To better know it, let me compare the two types.

A purchased list has the following features:

  • Comparatively lower engagement
  • Comparatively lower conversion rate
  • higher spam marking
  • affects reputation as a sender and causes bad deliverability issues
  • Little to no meaningful data about people on the list

An organically built list has the following features:

  • Your own channel to communicate with subscribers/users
  • Comparatively high engagement
  • Comparatively high conversion rate
  • A reliable source of information about subscribers: prospects, and customers

Bonus #2 Permission based list

Most of the email service providers have double opt-ins that force the user to confirm their subscription to your website, be it the newsletter, account creation or event, you name it. If you are planning for a long-term relationship, you would want to force this just one time. You will avoid a lot of garbage from your list.

Both single opt-in and double opt-in have their own merits and demerits which is out of the scope of this article. However, you can find the brief version of both below:

Single opt-in

  • It is a one-step process
  • you can get fake email addresses, thanks to email bots
  • you can get incorrect email addresses, thanks to impatient applicants and qwerty keyboards.

Double opt-in

  • It is a two-step process
  • Email confirmation protects you from fake or incorrect email addresses.

So far so good. You are finally convinced to not buy email list. But you’d ask how to build an email list from scratch? That’s what I will be talking in the next section. It’s the last one, and most important. If you’ve made this far, you’ll definitely want to know this.

How To Build Email List & Grow It

If you’ve just started, you might not know where to begin. Or if you know it already, you’d love to know these additional ways to build & grow your own email list.

Let’s begin.

Step 1. Attract audience

I am a strong believer in content marketing.If you too believe the same, then you spend a lot of time building meaningful and informative content for your website/blog. Content that resonates and solves problems of your audience. Doesn’t matter what niche you are in, the basic idea remains same. Create and serve content that connects and in return ask for their email so that you can send such useful content to their inbox.

Step 2. Create a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is an incentive/token/freebie you give to your potential subscribers in exchange for their email address. Depending on what niche you are in, the subscriber’s choice and buying intent would vary. Figure out a way that will create an urge for the potential subscriber to optin.

Step 3. Get a Good Email Service Provider

Forget what you’ve been using in the past. See what is available now. There are tons of Email service providers that will be boosting your email list day in day out with help of the powerful tools it has. Here’s the list of Email Service Providers I recommend:

If you are a pure beginner, MailChimp is best for you. It has some easy to use tools and features. Just because it for beginners, it doesn’t mean it is not up to the mark. You get a free account with 2000 subscribers. The pricing plans are based on the number of email IDs in the list and some advanced features. Isn’t it amazing?

AWeber is yet another popular email marketing software that takes your email campaign to next level with ease. It has some wide range of tools like segments, an email builder, autoresponders and more.

Get Response allows you to create beautiful & responsive emails. Autoresponders with A/B testing capability are an inbuilt feature of this software. You can send and manage targeted emails to specific subscribers.

InfusionSoft is a complete CRM & Marketing software for small and medium-size businesses. This is a software with premium features beyond just email marketing hence it doesn’t make sense to compare it with pure email software. It has advanced features for list segmentation, marketing automation, and lead scoring.

ConvertKit, just like Mailchimp is a perfect choice if you are just starting by. It is a right way to get started with building an email list from scratch. Furthermore, it is almost a CRM without the heavy price of “BRAND”, it is pocket-friendly and equally effective.

Optin Monster helps you create smart A/B testing forms. You can create dynamic, beautiful and powerful, personalized and targeted opt-in forms. Furthermore, you can embed these forms anywhere on your website to collect emails. You get an easy opt-in form builder that eliminates the reason to hire a developer to do the same. Furthermore, if you have a WordPress website, you also get the official plugin. You can get a starter plan is as cheap as $9/mo for beginners.

Step 4. Add visible optin forms on your website

Placing a sign-up form will not do much. You can to get in front of the potential subscribers, without annoying them yet in a bold fashion. Following ways can help you do this like a ninja:

  • Lightbox popups
  • exit-intent popups
  • slide in scroll boxes
  • floating bars
  • after post optins
  • full-screen welcome gates
  • 2-step optins

Step 5. Create assets & give it for free

Ebooks, templates, events, webinars, checklists you name it. You can create anything that will be worthy enough to exchange it for an email id. Just the title shouldn’t be catchy, the content inside should be awesome too. If you don’t have awesome content next time you send email, they’re going to unsubscribe directly.

Step 6. Create powerful & useful tools

If creating ebooks is not your butter, create tools that power users. Again, depending on the niche, tools will vary. Think of some awesome tools that will ease your potential subscribers will land them on your list.

Step 7. Exclusive access to assets as part of your marketing

You created ebooks, templates, frameworks etc and promote them in your blog posts, social media, PPC and wherever you can and ask for their email in exchange.

Step 8. Run email marketing campaigns

Email marketing is not dead, will not die any soon. You can create creative email marketing campaigns as per your niche and try getting building your list.

Final thoughts on why you should never buy email list and how to build email list instead

If you’ve made it till here, you are awesome and determined to build email list. So the bottom line is that you should never buy email list and build one for your own.

I understand it will take time, as you have to grow your traffic to your website. Then establish trust and then begin growing the email list. But this long route will stay longer than it took to build it. And since you’ve built it from scratch you will naturally have a lot of data that will help you target personalized emails.

Over to you. What do you think of buying email list? Have you tried the list for your business? What was the experience of it? Let me know in the comment section below.

Do you know someone who’s looking for this information? Share this with them and share in your network too.

Hey! I have found 15 reasons not to buy email list and 8 steps to build it on your own. Check it out

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Originally published at on April 17, 2018.

Writing about Blogging, Branding & Marketing | 1.7M views on Quora | | Hit Follow ⤵

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