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Is Purchasing An Email List Worth It?

We get thousands of emails every single day. Utility companies can now send you a statement online rather than in the mail. Retailers can provide coupons you don't have to clip. Coworkers can keep you informed without time-consuming meetings. Even the occasional Nigerian prince is asking for your banking details. Despite its age, email is still a widely used marketing tool.

Anyone in marketing can tell you it can take a while to build up a decent email list, but once it is built it can be a great asset to your brand. However, some people opt to take a shortcut and purchase an email list instead.

There are thousands of companies selling email lists of every size. How they gather those emails vary and can sometimes take a walk on the more shady side. But are they worth buying?

When you purchase an email list, you have no idea if the recipients will have an interest in your product or service. Hell, you have no idea if their emails are even still in use. For all you know, it's a list of duds.

Buying an email list can also impact your open and click-through rates. According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate for emails in 2020 was 18%. Of course, this is the open rate for a legitimate email list with consumers who have an interest in your brand. Imagine how low that open rate would be for an email list with no definite correlation to what you want to advertise.

In a previous article, I broke down a poorly presented cold pitch I received via email. My email probably was on a list they purchased and just one of the multiple emails sent out to others in the cannabis industry. When I opened it, my first thought was, "Why in the hell are these people emailing me?"

My second thought was, "Who are these people emailing me?"

This is not the reaction you want from a consumer. Purchasing a list and cold emailing can come off as creepy and paint your brand in an unfavorable light. It's just about the same level of creepy as people showing up on your doorstep wanting to talk to you about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The bottom line is purchased email lists are a waste of money and not good for your brand. As a brand, you are better off curating an organic audience or partnering with other brands or publications. Many publications across all industries have pivoted towards a mostly online presence and offer advertising slots in their emails.

Email marketing is still a prevalent way of reaching out to your audience, but how you do it will set the tone for the conversation. Purchasing email lists can hurt your brand's image and get your emails sent right into the spam folder. It's 2021, consumers are paying attention to your marketing.


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