Temptation comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a double chocolate brownie when you’re 2 weeks into a diet, sometimes it’s an extra pair of boots just in case you get tired of the other 12 you own and sometimes it’s a “list of pre-screened emails and phone numbers of certified leads!”
Buying an email list sure is tempting – who wants to pass up potential clients, right at your fingertips? But before you buy that list, you should know the risks.
Why Is Buying a List a Bad Idea?
Let’s back up for a minute: what does buying an email list mean?
In our experience, our clients are usually approached at conventions, over the phone or even over email by a company offering them leads. They’ll offer a list of names of your ideal client – for example they might offer you 50,000 names and email addresses for Minneapolis-based CPAs (for a nominal fee, of course). They’ll promise the leads are good quality.
So…what’s wrong with it? Why shouldn’t you buy that list?
There are many reasons – including that it’s invasive, often ineffective and it’s bad PR – but to cut to the chase, it’s illegal on multiple levels.
There’s a reason why people have to consent to join your email list and have the option to back out. Buying emails in bulk runs the risk of violating laws against harvesting & dictionary attacks, the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR. You can face some pretty hefty legal fees if your email goes to the wrong person and in almost every case you’ll find your business blacklisted from services like Constant Contact and HubSpot and unable to send any bulk emails in the future.
Simply put, it’s not worth the legal risk for the reward you get – in our 25+ years of marketing, very few of our clients have seen any kind of meaningful return from a purchased list. Most of the contacts on the lists don’t realize their information has been taken, and will either delete the email outright or send a nasty letter back to the company demanding they be taken off their list. Those who have signed away their email for lists (usually by joining an association) typically will delete any unknown marketing emails on sight.
How to Grow Your Email List for Free
Admittedly, growing your email list organically requires more work, but considering it won’t run you the risk of a hefty legal fine, it’s well worth the effort.
There are many ways to grow your email list, but it doesn’t hurt to start with some basics you can carry forward:
- Include a checkbox on all your online forms for people to opt-in to your email list.
- Put a button or a pop-up on your website inviting people to join your email list (consider offering an incentive, such as a 10% off your first order).
- Make sure your salespeople add new contacts to your existing email lists.
- Include social sharing buttons on all your emails.
You can also use gated assets to gather email addresses.
Using Gated Assets to Grow Your Email List
Gated assets are simply an exchange – in exchange for filling out a form, a person receives some piece of content. There are many different varieties, but some of the most common include:
- White papers
- Online tools
You’ll find that many people are more than willing to fill out a form in exchange for premium content. If you want to ramp up your marketing even further, you can incorporate this method into an entire inbound marketing strategy.
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Need a new digital marketing or web design plan? We are a Minneapolis SEO, digital marketing, social media marketing, web design and HubSpot inbound marketing agency. We’re located just outside of Minneapolis. Stop on by and get started – and while you’re here, pick up a free honey stick (yes, we love our bee-related theme).