Building a targeted and engaged email marketing list is time consuming. Many professionals wish they could simply click their heels and suddenly 10,000 contacts appear, but that’s just not reality. Despite what mysterious vendors promise when selling their lists, they aren’t a fairy godmother and their lists are nowhere near golden. Not only is purchasing email lists a bad practice that yields extremely poor results (if any at all), but it can negatively impact on your company for years to come.

Here are four reasons why it’s a bad idea:


1. You’ll End up With Lousy Contacts

Purchased lists often contain out-of-date contact information and abandoned email addresses, leaving you with an untargeted email audience that is unlikely to engage with your marketing efforts. If the email even lands in an active inbox, the recipient is likely to mark the email as spam or immediately delete it if they don’t know the sender.

Quality lists are built organically. It takes time and effort, but achieving high engagement is worth the effort in the end.

2. You’ll Violate CAN-SPAM and/or GDPR

Sending to purchased email lists can result in serious consequences. The CAN-SPAM Act was introduced to protect people from unsolicited emails and give them the right to opt-out of receiving emails. The Act prohibits companies from sending bulk emails to unsuspecting recipients, which is exactly what you’d be doing if you’re sending marketing emails to purchased lists. Each separate email in violation of the Act could result in upwards of $40,000 in penalties.

Additionally, the CAN-SPAM Act outlines several email marketing requirements you must follow, including:

  • Never use deceptive subject lines
  • Always include your physical company postal address
  • Give recipients an easy way to opt-out of receiving marketing emails

It’s also important to note the difference between transactional emails and marketing emails in the eyes of CAN-SPAM. A transactional email is what you receive when you place an online order and contains details about the purchase. These emails are often automated and do not require an opt-in.

The CAN-SPAM Act isn’t the only regulation you need to understand. In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy act was passed and applies to businesses that have customers in Europe. GDPR requires you to get specific opt-ins from consumers using a form where the consumer must check an unchecked opt-in box. GDPR also requires companies to keep proof of consumer consent. If you’re sending marketing emails to a purchased list of contacts, you won’t have records of the contacts giving you consent to email them.

3. Your Email Service Provider Will Punish You

Reputable email platforms require you to agree to terms stating you won’t use purchased lists. As discussed earlier, purchased lists have high bounce rates, low engagement and typically receive many spam reports which will raise a red flag with your email service provider (ESP).

ESPs like MailChimp and HubSpot take a very firm stance against purchased lists because many use shared IP addresses. If one of their customers ends up blacklisted due to unethical email marketing practices, it can harm the email deliverability of other companies on the shared IP. Therefore, the sender reputation is a collective effort and can even be beneficial due to the ESPs close enforcement of rules and ability to constantly monitor the activity on the shared IPs.

If you’re found in violation of your agreement, your ESP can close your account and could even take legal action against you.

4. You Could Land on an Email Blacklist

A blacklist is a regularly updated list of domains or IP addresses known to send unsolicited spam emails. Email and internet service providers use blacklists to prevent spam emails from entering their systems and harassing customers.

If you’re using a purchased email list, you risk being blacklisted. Consistent, poor email performance is a red flag that your list wasn’t built organically. Another reason your domain can land on a blacklist is when many of your readers are marking your emails as spam, internet service providers will assume your content is bad.

Email deliverability is crucial and if your email, domain or IP address lands on a blacklist, your entire marketing program can suffer. Simply put, purchasing email lists aren’t worth the consequences.

Although purchasing an email list is not a golden ticket to marketing success, email marketing remains an effective strategy that can yield excellent results. When looking to grow your lists organically and increase email marketing performance, explore how Aker Ink can help.