3 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List and What You Can Do Instead

I started writing weekly newsletters for one of my more recent clients when the year started. A few weeks after, their email marketing specialist reached out to me, asking for a quote for cold emails to write for them.


To give a quotation and a more solid recommendation on what they can do next, I pried a little to understand their objectives and what they've done so far to accomplish them. Their main challenge is that they're not getting enough leads, even though they serve email marketing efforts specific to the industries they primarily support as a digital marketing agency.


The email marketing specialist proceeded to tell me that even the newsletters I've been writing for them weren't performing well. I asked for the data so I know how to calibrate them and they showed me their backend CRM.


Their open rates range from less than 1% with the highest being 3% and change. Click-through rate (CTR) was at 0% across all their email marketing efforts including the newsletters I've been writing for about four weeks when that conversation happened. They were definitely well below industry benchmarks.


Like anyone who was in my position, I asked what they currently do so I can guide them in the right direction. I was met with the answer that every digital marketer feared, "we just bought email lists off Fiverr."


I tried my best to explain that buying databases never work, the email marketing specialist agreed, but unfortunately, her hands are also tied because it was the business owner's decision despite her recommendations against it.

Buying emails never yield good results. Sure, they did get two leads out of it, but those two leads were from at least twenty-five thousand email recipients, including their own "client database."


Why you should never buy an email list

Ever experienced receiving an email from a company you don't know? You possibly opened the mail out of curiosity, but after scanning through, you realized you don't remember them. Then you unsubscribed to make sure you don't receive any other similar emails. Other times, you may have deleted it unread because you already know it's spam. Either way, it's an irritant.


The email lists you purchase may be legitimate, active emails. But without their consent, your email is simply garbage to them. In other instances, it may be even worse because they are simply inactive or bot emails.


Here are three primary reasons why you should never buy an email database:


You won't get qualified leads

Yes, you can possibly get leads. But it would never be the leads your business wants. You may get lucky with a few lists you purchase, but that comes with any numbers game. As a business, you can't rely on probability.


What you need are qualified contacts. People who are familiar with your business and have the capacity and desire to purchase from you. Aside from wasting money, you won't get the same if you buy email lists, no matter how targeted they are.


It's spray and pray

Spray and pray is when you send out a lot of whatever it is you want to send with the most minimal effort, and pray that you get your desired outcome. In this case, the minimal effort is purchasing email lists instead of building it to get qualified leads. Doing so attributes your success to luck instead of a guarantee.


Buying email databases is simply a waste of money. A Google study shows that 90% of customers will share their email addresses for the right incentive. It's a matter of employing the correct lead magnet efforts to find good leads.


You'll increase your chance of getting marked as spam

If you buy an email list, most people won't recognize your name in their inbox, making it likely for them to mark you as spam.


When your emails get marked as spam too often, email clients such as Gmail and Yahoo! will start diverting your emails to a recipient's spam folder. Even if you send out emails to your legitimate subscribers, your emails will be redirected to spam. Your open rates will plummet and your emails may not see the light of day from your contacts. That's a situation that no business would want to be in.



Lead Generation Tips You Can Do Instead of Buying Email Databases

Several lead gen strategies can be done even by non-marketers to make sure you only get qualified and interested leads without relying on probability or luck.




Below are some lead generation steps you can start doing today:


Target top-of-funnel keywords

Your top-of-funnel leads are at the beginning of the buyer's journey. Users in this stage have recently discovered a pain point or an objective and want to find solutions to help them. Their priorities are in understanding their situation better and finding potential options to support their objectives. Creating content that intercepts that specific part of their journey can help put your business at their top of mind when they decide their next steps.


Know where your customers begin online so you know how to reach them. It can be social media, search engines, or a combination of different channels. Developing a strong presence using content that targets specific keywords they are likely to use can put you at the right spot at the right time to get their attention.


Make irresistible content and offerings

Users expect value, the same way you would expect to be answered well when you Google something you want to know. Valuable content boosts your business' expertise and authority. It establishes credibility and informs prospects that you know your craft well.


Alongside irresistible offerings, you can lock yourself into a user's decision-making process before they get intercepted by your competitor. When they visit your website, you want to make sure they stay on it. Instead of buying email lists, providing good offers such as free trials or big discounts, or setting up offers in a time-limited duration becomes your carrot to solicit an action from your target market.


Retarget those who previously engaged

If a user interacted with your content previously, such as giving you their email to download your content, it is likely that they are already interested in your business. These are the people who willingly gave their information for an incentive that your business was able to provide them. An email list you bought won't give you the same privilege.


When retargeting, remember that the way you communicate with someone who doesn't know you yet is different from those who already know who you are but simply needs a little push to your desired action.


If your business needs a freelance writer, check out my content writing and marketing retainer services or request a customized proposal today. Aside from being a freelance content writer and copywriter, I’m a digital marketing expert who can help you with top-of-the-funnel strategies including lead generation.