edit Amanda Gagnon on February 22, 2011
edit Lists for sale aren't the right lists
Thinking of buying an email list? You do know this is a bad idea, right? What? You don't?Maybe you’re new to email marketing, and thinking it's a sure way to get more visitors to your website. Or maybe you’ve been chatting with the wrong sort of marketers - the ones who promise their email lists will produce lots of new customers. And maybe you believe their claim that the people on their lists specifically requested information just like yours.
News flash: They didn’t.
It’s time to set the story straight. Think about it – have you ever requested that your email address be spread far and wide so you could get a spammed with a ton of new, random email offers for things you don't want?
Yeah. Neither has anyone else. And yet, email list vendors have huge databases of names and email addresses. So the question is…
edit Where Do Those Email Addresses Come From?
Basically, any email address left lying around on the Web can end up in list vendors' databases.
They scrape them off old lists. They pick them off websites. Vendors collect contact lists from conferences. They advertise free products, then stockpile people's information when they respond.
That means the people you’re emailing may not be remotely interested in your topic. And even if the vendor did use legitimate subscription tactics, none of these people actually expect to hear from you.
Some of you are nodding – you see the problem.
Others are rolling their eyes, thinking,”Okay, but I need customers.” Yes, I can see your fingers itching to toggle back to that email list site.
Well, keep those fingers steady for one more minute. Using one of these emails lists won't just create a nuisance for the people on it - it can create problems for you, too.
edit If You Do Buy that Email List
Sending to a bulk list might not get you a one-way ticket to the spam house – not the first time, at least. But it will bring you, at the minimum, a lot of unpleasantness. Here’s why:
1) The email addresses on bulk lists get sold to all kinds of marketers. So the folks on those lists get all kinds of email. So then they lodge all kinds of spam complaints. If email service providers like Gmail and Hotmail get enough complaints, they might put you on a blacklist, blocking your emails from all their members.
2) Because of the way these lists are compiled, many of the email addresses you receive will be misspelled, abandoned or non-existent. When a big chunk of your email campaign goes to such addresses, the email service providers might notice. Again, they could block all future emails from you.
List merchants actually know this. It’s such a sure thing, they even offer a refund of credit for those addresses up-front. Note: It could be difficult to use that credit.
3) Reputable email services companies know that if they send out email for a client from a list full of bad emails, you could be blocked and so could they. That's why email services companies that know what they're doing won't let you import a purchased address list to begin with.
4) Finally, let’s talk sales. Isn't that the ultimate purpose of your emails? Unprepared recipients aren’t likely to think, “Oh gosh, I was just hoping for yet another offer from a company I don’t know! Let me click over to their site and buy something!” So if you were hoping to sell to a purchased list, you might want to adjust your expectations.
Okay, perhaps a list purchase gets you a very large group of emails for a few minutes. But after the bounced emails, spam complaints and lack of response, you’re likely to find yourself worse off than when you started.
Plus, you’ll be associated with spam. Is that how you want to spend your marketing budget?
edit A Better Way To Get Emails
"Okay," you’re saying. "I get your point. But I still need to make sales, and I need people to sell to."
We get that. So we’ve written up lots of ideas for building your list. They’re simple, they’re above board, and they work.
In the words of AWeber's import specialist, Chase Kramer, “What’s really important isn’t sending to a bunch of people that aren’t all that interested and hoping for a few sales. It’s positioning yourself so that a month from now, a year from now - two years from now and beyond - the sales are coming to you.”
You can comment on this article on AWeber's blog, where an earlier version is published.