February 3, 2021

3 Reasons To Never Buy Email Lists (And How To Build Good Ones)

Have you ever considered buying a contact data list for your email marketing efforts? As email marketing is still the number one way to attract new customers online, it sounds like a great idea in theory.

Barry Moroney




Have you ever considered buying a contact data list for your email marketing efforts? As email marketing is still the number one way to attract new customers online, it sounds like a great idea in theory. For example, you might buy a list of 5,000 email addresses for $1,000 and hope for the following results:

Convert 0.5% to sales = 25 customers
Average contract value = $10,000
Total return = $250,000
ROI = 250x

Unfortunately, this is not the reality and you have a lot more to lose than just your $1,000 investment when taking this approach. Buying email lists is a really bad idea for a number of reasons, some of which are often overlooked or not understood.

Bounce Rates Hurt Deliverability

As a large portion of the email addresses in a bought list will be inactive or incorrect, any emails sent to these accounts will bounce back. Ideally, you should be aiming for a 0% bounce rate and settling for that number to be below 2%. If you cross over the 5% mark at scale, you are going to get into trouble. Email service providers (ESP’s) are smart and a high bounce rate is the biggest indicator to them that you have purchased a list and are spamming to it. Needless to say, they don’t really appreciate this and will take measures to put a stop to it.

The end result is that this will affect your deliverability and your open rates will plummet. The quality of your content is completely irrelevant at this stage as your emails will no longer appear in primary inboxes and you will be lucky to get a 20% open rate on these (and future) campaigns.

This Kills Your Domain

Now, the real problem. This type of activity does not just affect your email account, there is a knock-on effect to all other email accounts sharing the same domain. For example, if you are sending mass email marketing campaigns with high bounce rates from john@yourcompany.com, your ESP will identify @yourcompany.com as a spam domain and everyone else in the company will start to see issues with their email deliverability.

The worst part of this is that there will be no warning or announcement from the ESP, general day-to-day emails just won’t get past strict email servers and people won’t even know that they haven’t delivered. Your CEO and directors will be trying to contact other businesses and will be wondering why they aren’t getting any responses. Best of luck explaining it to them at this stage!

You Can’t Trust The Quality Of This List

It shouldn’t really come as a shock to anyone that a person who is selling contact lists might not be trustworthy. They will more than likely tell you everything that you want to hear when it comes to the data in the list, but they reality is that you (and probably them also) have no idea how the list was originally built. You can be sure to run into the following problems:

  • Out of date information (People have moved jobs, country, changed surname etc.).
  • Missing or incomplete data (Even if the email account is active, there is no way to know if the rest of the data is correct, i.e. having the wrong names, job titles etc.).

Buying a list of 5,000 marketing directors in your target industry might sound like a quick win, but if you are going to run outreach campaigns without being able to verify the data properly, the quick win will most likely result in a resounding defeat.

How To Build Quality Lists?

There are two ways to build a quality list, organically through an opt-in form and having a sales development team build custom lists based on your Ideal Customer Profile.

Building an organic list through opt-in forms is a great way to create an engaged community of people who are interested in what you do and are likely to recommend you to their friends. The biggest challenge with this is that is can be a very slow burn and requires a lot of investment in content creation to attract a community.

Though the curation of an organic list should always be a priority, leveraging your sales development function (or outsourcing it to a company like Leadable) is a quicker and more cost effective way for most companies. Based on your Ideal Customer Profile, Leadable can build custom and unique lists around the data points that you need for your outbound sales efforts.

A custom built list with a 0-1% bounce rate, combined with messaging targeted specifically to your buyer personas in your cold email campaigns, will keep your open and response rates high, ultimately driving predictable revenue each month and quarter.

What Next?

If you are not achieving at least a 70% open rate with your email campaigns and you want to start strategically targeting your Ideal Customer Profile at scale, book a call with Leadable today to see if we can help.

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