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Should I Buy Email Lists? Why Buying Email Lists Is a Bad Idea (And 4 Alternatives)

Should I buy email lists? It’s the question keeping you up every night. You’re tossing and turning, wondering if purchasing email lists is the best way for you to start your email marketing strategy. I mean, if you find a reputable company, it should be okay, right?

Wrong.  If you want to do email marketing right, the first thing you should do is avoid buying an email list. Buying email lists brings more problems than solutions, and in this blog post, we’ll go over five reasons why you’ll want to avoid purchasing an email list. Plus, we’ll provide you with actionable tactics for building an email list the right way!

Keep reading to learn more!

Should I buy email lists? No — here are 5 reasons why

If you want to buy email lists, stop right there!

Before you do that, look at these five reasons to avoid buying email lists:

1. Paid email lists often contain outdated data

When you try to buy an email list, you’ll find the information on these lists tends to be obsolete. The companies who sell emails aren’t always honest, which means you can end up spending money on data that has zero value to your business. These paid email lists often have:

  • Inaccurate or incomplete data (wrong name, no names)
  • Dated email addresses no longer in use

As a result, you end up with data you can’t use to reach qualified leads for your business. If there’s anything to remember, it’s this: No good email addresses can be purchased from a company –– they can only be earned organically.

2. Paid email lists can contain “illegal” emails

One of the biggest reasons to avoid buying an email list is the legal issues. Many of these email lists contain “illegal” emails which can get your company in hot water. The United States has legislation called the CAN-SPAM Act.

This act prevents companies from sending unwanted emails in bulk to people –– it helps save people from receiving too much spam from companies. While this act doesn’t make it illegal to buy and sell email addresses, it is unlawful to send bulk spam emails to unwilling subscribers or continue to send people emails after they unsubscribe from your email list. When you buy email lists, you end up falling into this trap.

By buying an email list and sending emails to those prospects, you’re sending unwanted bulk emails to unwilling subscribers –– these people didn’t opt to join your email list. On top of that, you also run the risk that a previous unsubscriber ends up on this paid list. And that’s just the beginning.

If you buy the email list from a company that uses shady tactics to build their email lists, you can run into even more legal trouble. Overall, you could end up paying up to $43,000 per “illegal” email sent. So, if you sent two emails to ten subscribers, you’re looking at up to $860,000 in fines.

Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

3. You come across as a spammer

Not only does purchasing email lists put you at risk for fines, but they also put your reputation at risk. If you opt to buy an email list, you risk labeling yourself as a spammer. People know when they subscribe to an email list.

If they start repeatedly receiving emails from your company and didn’t opt to sign up, they’ll think it was spam. Many people will delete your emails before even opening them. As a result, you build a reputation of being a spammer.

So, even if people discover your brand later, they’ll still have the impression you’re a spammer and won’t want to click on any ads or listings from your business. As a result, people won’t trust your business or feel confident in getting products or services from you. Once you lose trust with your audience, it becomes a long, uphill battle to try and repair it.

4. Other people are using your paid email list

Another thing to keep in mind when you buy an email list is you’re not the only one using it. Companies that sell email lists are selling them to dozens of other companies. That means multiple unsolicited emails will go to these subscribers.

If these subscribers are already feeling annoyed from other companies sending them unsolicited offers, they’re even less likely to engage with your emails. As a result, you’ll spend money on a list of subscribers that are already bombarded and annoyed with unwanted emails.

5. You won’t get the response you want

Still asking yourself, “Should I buy email lists?” If so, consider that you won’t get the engagement you want when you buy an email list. When you do email marketing, you want people to engage with your emails. With paid email lists, the percentage of people that will engage with your emails is insignificant.

In addition, since people didn’t join your email list willingly, they’re less likely to take an interest in your emails As a result, you won’t get the open rate or engagement rate you desire with your email marketing strategy.

Our digital marketing campaigns impact the metrics that improve your bottom line.

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WebFX has driven the following results for clients:

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$6 billion

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24 million

Leads for our clients
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7.14 million

Client phone calls

4 alternatives to buying an email list

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Should I buy email lists?” you may be wondering what to do next. How can you build an email subscriber list without buying email lists? Here are four ways to build email lists instead of purchasing email lists:

1. Add an email sign-up bar to your website

One of the best alternatives to buying an email list is to add an email sign-up bar to your website. An email sign-up bar is an excellent way for you to build an organic email list –– people have to opt to join your email list. You can place this email sign-up bar on the header or footer of your site.

You’ll want to make the form simple to ensure it’s easy to sign up.   email sign-up bar for lushBy adding this bar to the header or footer of your site, you provide visitors with the opportunity to join your email list at any time.

2. Use email sign-up pop-ups

Another alternative to purchasing email lists is to use email sign-up pop-ups. Email sign-up pop-ups appear on a page as users engage with your site. These pop-ups are typically triggered when users do a specific action, like hovering over a product, entering your website, or leaving your page.

Pop-ups can be an effective way to build an email marketing list. You can make a special or exclusive offer to entice users to enter their email, for example.   Pop-up box on Old Navy's site that invites people to join their email list

3. Try creating gated content

Instead of buying an email marketing list, you can try getting more subscribers by creating gated content. Gated content is content that requires users to sign up or enter their email to access it.   Gated content for content on in-app messages When you create gated content, it’s typically more in-depth than a stereotypical blog post.

This type of email content tends to be more like guides, whitepapers, and ebooks –– content that has a lot of sustenance. With gated content, you have an excellent opportunity to offer your audience valuable information in exchange for their email. It’s a far more effective strategy for getting qualified subscribers to join your email list than buying an email list.

4. Invite people to join your list through social media

The last alternative to purchasing email lists is to invite people to join through social media. If people already follow your business on social media, you know they are interested in what you offer. You can use these platforms to entice them to join your email list.

Whether you offer a weekly newsletter with tips, special discounts, or exclusive product previews, you can use those benefits to entice social media followers to join your list.

WebFX helps companies like yours reach their business goals

“Our marketing department has a lot of key performance indicators that WebFX has always helped us achieve… WebFX has always worked hard to make sure that we’re getting what we need out of the partnership, not just what may seem like the best result.”


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Build your email marketing list with WebFX

The most effective way to run a successful email marketing strategy is not to buy email lists, but to build them organically. While it may take more time and effort, the results are well worth it. If you need support with your email marketing strategy, the experts at WebFX are ready to help.

We have a team of over 500 marketing experts that know how to launch successful email marketing campaigns. Our team knows how to drive results, too. We’ve driven over $6 billion in revenue and over 24 million leads for our clients in the past five years.

Ready to build an email list with more qualified leads? Contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our email marketing services!

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