The Dangers of Buying Email Lists

Email marketing has been proven important to marketers, but building your own organic list of emails is not easy, leading many to buy email lists from other companies. The thing is, buying email lists is actually not as safe as you would think it is… Read more to find out.

Written By Hanis Sofea Zulkifli

On August 5, 2020
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Updated on April 19, 2021

Due to the pandemic, big and small businesses were forced to cut unnecessary costs, and one of them being marketing budgets. And because email has been proven to generate higher ROI and is widely used throughout the whole world, many marketers opt to continue with email marketing.

Did you know that an email address is considered PII (personally identifiable information)?

In other words, your email is equally personal as your bank account number or your NRIC number. While businesses are busy switching their focus onto growing their email list, it is important to know where to draw the line. An opt-in email list is, of course, the best and safest because customers voluntarily give you their email address as they wish to receive more information from you. This helps build trust between you and your customers.

“Why would a company sell an active customer email list to others? To gain themselves more competitors?”

Nevertheless, building your own organic list of emails may not be as easy, and sometimes might even take a long time, which is why there are people who opt for the easy way out—that is, buying email lists.

Bought Email Lists: Everything bad that comes with

Imagine receiving numerous emails from a company that you have never heard of before, and that company keeps on feeding you with information that does not even concern you. A question such as “how did they get my email?” will surely pop into your mind, yes? And you are bound to either ignore it or mark it as spam. That is what bought email lists do to your business as well as your client. It totally defeats the sole purpose of email marketing, which is to gain clients’ trust in your business.

  • No permission, no consent

When you buy email lists, the seller will surely tout that the emails sold are all “opt-in” emails. However, those emails might have agreed to receive contents from a specific company or business but not yours. Those recipients might not even know of your company let alone allow you to send them emails. At the end of the day, your content will only be left unread or worse, marked as spam (which, by the way, is bad for your sending reputation).

  • Say bye-bye to your marketing goals

Email marketing is all about personalisation to fit your specific audience. So when you have no target audience in mind, you will miss out on the opportunity to create good customer relationships. This is what happens when you send emails to bought lists—you will only come across as the annoying marketer. However, there is a very slim chance that your tactic might work but is it enough to reach your marketing goals? You may even risk more than just having a bad sending reputation.

  • Inaccurate data

Bought email lists are very likely recycled leads. In most cases, the lists you bought are either already been used by other businesses (and they are sick of it), inactive or are incredibly outdated. Whichever the reasons are, it still does not promise good marketing results. Chances for you to come across a high-quality bought email list is very low. And if you really think about it, why would a company sell an active customer email list to others? To gain themselves more competitors?

  • Your business account might face legal consequences

Unless you have proof that the leads you bought have consented to disclose their personal data, you might be looking at some legal repercussions, depending on where you are. In Singapore, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) disallows the use or disclosure of personal information for purposes other than what the individuals have given permission to. Acquire consents from your customers. If you fail to do so, get ready to pay some pretty hefty fines.

  • Tarnished reputation

As mentioned earlier, when your email is marked as spam (even just once), you will run the risk of tarnishing your sending reputation. What is more, you will also be exposed to the dangers of spam traps. Having at least one spam trap on your mailing list can significantly impact your deliverability. Worse still, your domain or sending IP address can be blacklisted immediately. Recovery will take a while, and this will affect your marketing plans too.

Buying email lists will not help you grow your business in the long run. In fact, the risks are just not worth taking. The best way to build trust between you and your customers is to start with the opt-in email lists.

Want to know more about proper email list hygiene and the best practices for emails? Get on a 15 mins call with our lead Marketing Consultant today!

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