On paper, purchased email lists sound like a good idea.

Maybe you’re just getting started with email marketing, or perhaps your list of email addresses has started to go stale and buying email lists seems like the only way to push forward.

You have money to spend on marketing. What you don’t seem to have is the time to grow your list on your own.

Learn how to build your email list quickly and easily. Watch our webinar: How to Ask for Email Addresses, Anywhere

If someone else is going to do the hard work of collecting email addresses for you, why not take advantage?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer.

Do you like to receive emails from a business or organization you don’t know? If you see an unfamiliar name in your inbox, are you likely to open and read it? Or do you send it to your trash?

If you’re like most people, you’re protective of your inbox. And while you might not report every unwanted email as spam, you probably don’t think too highly of businesses or organizations that send you email without your permission.

This doesn’t take into account the other setbacks of purchasing a list, like:

1. Purchased lists put you at risk of breaking the law (which can result in steep fines for your business)

In the US, CAN-SPAM legislation includes some strict regulations around the right and wrong ways to collect email addresses. Additionally, Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, which went into effect in July 2014, requires you to obtain and document consent before sending commercial emails to Canadian consumers.

2. Purchased lists aren’t allowed by reputable email marketing services

Buying email lists aren’t allowed by reputable email marketing services Email marketing services, including Constant Contact, do not allow you to use purchased lists. That’s because we are an email service provider that maintains a strong anti-spam policy to ensure that our customers are only sending emails to people who have expressed interest in receiving them. And that means refraining from buying an email list.

3. Purchased lists put you at risk of higher spam reports and unsubscribes (and lower open rates)

Not recognizing the name of the sender is one of the biggest reasons people choose to unsubscribe from marketing emails. It’s also one of the main reasons people mark email they receive as spam and sometimes
your unsolicited emails may go directly into a spam folder without any user action.

What gets people to open? According to a recent analysis of Constant Contact customer emails, businesses that send personalized emails receive higher open rates than those that send broad messages to their entire list.

Just as the contacts from a purchased list won’t know about your business, you’ll know even less about them. Creating targeted messages from a purchased list is nearly impossible.

What can you do?

The first thing to remember is that even the most time-starved businesses do have the time and resources to build an email list.

It starts with having the right tools to help you collect email addresses in all the places people interact with your business. If you’re a Constant Contact customer, there are three marketing list building tools you can try out right away:

You can customize and print a paper sign-up sheet here.

grow your email list template

  • Website: Embed a sign-up form right on your website, so that new visitors can easily subscribe. If you have a WordPress site, our Constant Contact Forms plugin allows you to create an email sign-up form in minutes.

The benefit of these tools is that they work on their own. You’re already putting in work to increase traffic online and at your business; these tools will help you take advantage of that extra traffic with little extra work.

Once you start building your list, make a good impression on new subscribers with an enticing email campaign, built to drive leads or increase sales.

Check out this example from needlepoint shoe company, By Paige, offering a 10% discount for those who sign up.

By Paige

After signing up, new subscribers receive an automatic Welcome Email with the coupon, along with a follow-up reminder message.

According to By Paige founder, Paige Andrews:

“We definitely noticed people using the coupon. We’re not just adding new sign-ups, it’s also helping to drive sales.”

Build your targeted email lists the right way

Email marketing relationships are a valuable marketing asset. In fact, 91 percent of consumers want to receive emails from the organizations they do business with.

Building these relationships starts with making sure you have permission before adding someone to your email list (i.e. not purchasing email lists).