To Buy, Or Not to Buy…

To paraphrase Shakespeare:

To Buy, Or Not to Buy: That is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in your business to buy a list and suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous spam laws,
Or to take arms against a sea of spam troubles
And by opposing, end them. To rent: to sleep
And by a sleep to say: “We will not face massive fines and risk having our site blacklisted”

… Ok, what’s up with the Shakespeare you say? (in case you didn’t pick that up it is from Hamlet) My kids have been studying Shakespeare and for some odd reason I remembered that soliloquy from high school and thought it might fit here.

You might be saying, “Thanks for the Shakespeare Chris, but what the heck are you talking about?!!”

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about buying email lists that you can blast to. As you know I’m a big believer in email marketing and blasts ONLY if they are done right. Done right, you get a surge in traffic and sales. Done wrong, it’s a waste of everybody’s time.

One of the biggest questions I get from clients is “Should I buy or rent an email list?”

Certainly buying a list looks more attractive BUT YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE WHOLE PICTURE BEFORE YOU DECIDE WHAT TO DO.  You could be facing grave penalties.

Let me explain…

Renting a list: When you rent the list, the company that owns the list blasts it out for you. They make their money by keeping a high integrity list of confirmed email lists where most (if not all) of the people have opted in to receive information. They will continue to refresh, update and rent the list. This is the bread and butter of their business. Advantages are high deliverability with no risk of spam. Downside is it’s more expensive as you pay per blast. Many good list brokers will limit your risk by only charging for emails that were confirmed delivered to the recipient’s inbox.

Buying a list – you own it. No idea how the emails were harvested. Purchased lists have high bounce and spam rates. Purchased lists can also be very old with poor deliverability, they could have been developed by a sweatshop of people in India scanning websites for email addresses and adding them to their list, or even to an extreme where someone could have stolen a list and are trying to pawn it off on some poor unsuspecting person. If you buy a list, no software provider will do the blast for you. Reputable off-the-shelf email blast companies like Constant Contact, Aweber, and Infusionsoft (the one I use), clearly state in their terms and conditions that you agree NOT to blast a purchased list; they will revoke your software license if you do.

If you buy a list, you have to search very hard to find a 3rd party that will blast it for you. They are very few and they defer all legal responsibility to you. Fines are $16,000 per spam blast, plus, you run the risk of getting your website blacklisted from the internet. Very severe stuff. If you buy a list, there is no way to effectively blast it without serious implications. A lot of companies that sell lists will paint a nice sales picture but they don’t tell you how to send it. They paint a nice rosy picture and that’s about it. Advantage to buying a list is you own the list and can sleep with a false sense of security that you have something great (you don’t). Downside is you can’t blast it, and if you do you run the risk of serious fines and getting kicked off the internet.

After going through this with clients they decided not to buy lists. By the way, this question comes up all the time. There are many people that will try to sell you lists. My advice – RUN!!

Bottom line: Renting an email list is the only way to go.

Bottom line #2: Renting an email list is a great way to get business, if (and this is a big IF) you have a powerful lead generation magnet to drive the opt-in. (I covered this topic in a free mini-course “5 Days to Success With Internet Marketing“)

Hope this helps.


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