5 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List

spam email

Particularly in the initial stages, many newsletter senders contemplate effective ways to grow their recipient list. Purchasing email addresses may seem like a convenient method to expand your recipient list rapidly. During this search, one often encounters enticing online offers that promise millions of company addresses at reasonable prices—an irresistible prospect. Nonetheless, here are five compelling reasons that demonstrate the contrary. 

1. Sending newsletters to purchased email lists is illegal

In Germany, it is not prohibited to buy address data itself. Even after the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is generally permissible to purchase third-party email addresses online. However, there are significant limitations to using these purchased email lists for your own purposes.

Under the GDPR, advertising emails can only be sent with explicit consent from the recipients. This rule means that your recipients must have given express permission to receive the newsletter. Typically, newsletter senders will use a double opt-in method.

The issue with purchased email addresses is that you cannot be certain whether the owners have ever provided their consent. Furthermore, even if consent was given, it cannot be sold or transferred along with the addresses. The consent obtained by the address holders is always specific to the company that acquired the permission. As the secondary sender of the newsletter, you are not the original recipient of that permission.

Consequently, it is illegal to purchase “email addresses with permission” from third-party providers and utilize them to send your own newsletter, despite the claims made by many offers. The distinction between company addresses (B2B) and email addresses of private individuals (B2C) is also irrelevant in this context. To ensure legal compliance, it is advisable to explore alternative methods for expanding your recipient list.

2. Negative impact on deliverability

Sending newsletters to purchased email addresses is not only against the law but also harms the success rate of email campaigns. Purchased email lists often contain inactive addresses. People frequently change jobs or switch addresses, which purchased lists often fail to reflect. Consequently, when you send newsletters to these inactive addresses, you will experience a high number of bounces. Your emails are not reaching their intended recipients. Moreover, many email clients use these inactive addresses as spam traps. If you contact an address that has been inactive for a long time, the email provider’s spam filter will identify you as a spam sender.

There is also a significant likelihood that recipients who didn’t sign up for your newsletters will mark them as spam since they consider them unwanted intrusions in their inboxes.

The combination of high bounce rates and spam markings is detrimental to the overall deliverability of your newsletters. Recipients’ email programs will flag your sender address as “undesirable” or block your emails altogether. It doesn’t matter if only a portion of the recipient addresses were purchased; your reputation as a trustworthy sender will be compromised.

Therefore, it is essential to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to your recipient lists. Send newsletters exclusively to subscribers who have willingly opted in, ensuring that your messages reach their intended audience.

3. Dispatch block for newsletter tools

Most newsletter programs do not support the illegal sending of newsletters to purchased recipient addresses. As stated in their terms and conditions, senders may only send their newsletters to email addresses whose owners have expressly consented to receive them.

If you as a newsletter sender do not comply with these guidelines, this can lead to your account being temporarily blocked or permanently blocked after the respective case has been checked.

In short, if you can show an extensive list of recipients after purchasing e-mail lists but are no longer allowed to write to them with newsletter software, the purchase is not worth it.

4. Purchased recipients are not prospects

At first, it may seem appealing to expand your newsletter’s reach by purchasing email addresses. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance for the sender to diligently recognize that the individuals receiving these email addresses harbor no inclination whatsoever toward the conveyed information. If they were genuinely interested, they would have likely discovered your website and voluntarily signed up for your newsletter.

While a few individuals from the purchased email list may become aware of your company and become customers through the newsletter, several obstacles need to be overcome for this to happen:

  • The purchased email addresses must still be active and in use.
  • The newsletter must bypass spam filters and reach the recipient’s inbox.
  • Your email must stand out among the numerous messages received daily and not be discarded without being read.
  • The recipient must not mark your unsolicited email as spam without even opening it.
  • The sender’s name and subject line must capture the recipient’s interest.
  • The content of the newsletter must align with the recipient’s interests.

The probability of meeting all these requirements when sending a newsletter to purchased email addresses is quite low. We can confidently say that the benefits of buying an address are far outweighed by the effort required to repair your reputation as a sender after being marked as spam, experiencing bounces, and receiving warnings.

Especially if your newsletter software charges based on the number of recipients, investing in purchased address lists is not a worthwhile expense. Unless you’re willing to pay for both the email addresses and additional costs associated with sending emails to those addresses. Unfortunately, the outcome is more likely to be negative than positive.

Instead, consider investing your resources in other strategies to convert existing website visitors into newsletter subscribers. For instance, you could host a free giveaway on your website that requires signing up for the newsletter as an entry requirement. Alternatively, offer a 10% discount on the next order exclusively to newsletter subscribers.

Being creative and finding ways to genuinely engage interested individuals in your newsletter is a far better approach than randomly targeting and writing to email addresses.

5. Company image damage

In the long term, purchasing email addresses can harm your company or brand’s reputation. You might have experienced this yourself: receiving numerous unsolicited spam emails in your inbox can be quite bothersome. Over time, manually deleting these emails and marking them as spam becomes tiresome. The result is that you remember the annoying emails from the XYZ company.

Instead of gaining new customers through purchased email addresses, it is more likely that the owners of these addresses will associate your company with annoying and suspicious spam emails. It’s questionable whether you’ll ever be able to regain their trust in you and your products or services.

Moreover, your reputation as a sender of spam can spread among the owners of the purchased addresses more than you might initially realize. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth: If your company or products are discussed among family members or friends, those who received your newsletter through purchased addresses will not hesitate to share their negative experiences.

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