There are typically three ways marketers can obtain an email contact list:

  1. Buy an email list – working with a list provider, you find and purchase a list of names and email addresses based on certain demographics and other information.
  2. Rent an email list – also working with a list provider, you find a group of people to email, but you don’t actually own the list. This means you can’t see the email addresses of the people that you’re messaging, so it’s up to the provider to send your email out.
  3. Create your own opt-in email list – this is when people voluntarily give you their email address with the full knowledge that you will be sending them emails.

Sure, buying leads is much easier and more efficient than generating them organically, despite being more expensive. But really, buying email lists should be avoided at all costs.

Why you should avoid buying email lists

First of all, leads that you’ve bought don’t actually know you or why they are receiving your emails. Usually, they’ve opted in to another site when signing up for something. So they may not have even heard about your company, let alone want to receive anything from you. Therefore, the emails you send them are unwarranted and uninviting (not to mention – just plain annoying).

Furthermore, if they never opted to receive emails from you, there’s a high chance that they could delete your messages without even reading them – or worse, mark your messages as spam. Being flagged as spam is one of the worst things that can happen when it comes to lead generation, because not only does it train people’s inboxes to filter out your emails, you go on a “blacklist” that is shared with other email providers. And once you are on a blacklist, it’s extremely difficult to get off it.

Lastly, I’m sure you’ve been in the situation where you’ve been emailed by a person or company you don’t know. Do you remember the way it made you feel? Probably intruded on and irritated, right? Do you want to be the business responsible for creating those feelings in other people? I don’t think so.