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The Email Marketing Dilemma – Should I Buy?

Email marketing provides all businesses the means to reach out to potential clients about their products and services. To start with, you need emails, which usually will take months to build a database. Most business owners I know do not have the patience and the time to build up a long list of emails over that period of time.

The idea of buying then immediately comes to mind. While this may sound incredibly a great idea on first thought it has its own problems (something I will touch on later).

Another idea that may be worth considering is renting a list from someone else. This has come to be accepted as a more responsible way of reaching out. Usually, the owner will send emails on your behalf for a fee but will not allow you access to the contact list.

Now let’s discuss in detail why buying email lists is not such a great idea.


Taking the time and making the effort to collect your own mailing list will give you a precious resource for marketing activities in the future.

On the other hand, buying a list means you stand the risk being marked as a spam and the consequences that will follow is not good.

This is because the same list may be in the hands of others who may have purchased and use it to send messages. In other words, there is no control as to how many emails or what types of messages are sent to the list.

The list has been bombarded with so many messages so much that people are already tired of receiving anymore messages. So you can be sure yours will not get any attention.


That brings me to my next point – quality. For those who sell lists, it is all about how fast they can make money. This means the larger the list they can gather, the more money they can make from selling them. As a result, their collection tactics is somewhat suspicious. They may collect thousands of emails from websites with no verification of their existence.

So you may end up with dead and abandoned emails and you stand the risk of being blacklisted as a “dirty sender” for sending emails to such useless list.


Without permission, you are less likely to become successful in email marketing. People will respond in three ways to your message if it is unsolicited – poor response, marked as spam, deleted.

If you purchase a list, you will be sending emails to people who have not given their permission to receive emails from you. So expect these: a poor response, marked as spam or deleted.

All email marketing service providers include purchasing list in their anti-spam terms of use. Please see examples below:

No purchased lists (no matter how expensive).” – MailChimp

purchased lists may not be used” – Campaign Monitor

(On the company’s “Things you may not do” list) “Use email lists that you purchased, rented, leased, or in any way bought from a third party”AWeber

In conclusion, never buy mailing lists because you will be blacklisted, your image will suffer and at worse you may not be able to do proper business on the internet anymore.

I will always recommend the dignified way of building your own database of mailing lists. A word to the wise is enough.

Dan is a Digital Strategist at - responsible for creating strategies to generate marketing leads for clients, utilizing a wide range of online marketing techniques including search; SEO and PPC. If he is not marketing, selling or analyzing data, he is playing soccer, cycling or traveling.

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