Why Buying Email Marketing Lists Might Not Be a Great Idea?

Team Pepper
Posted on 28/10/218 min read
Why Buying Email Marketing Lists Might Not Be a Great Idea?
Building email marketing lists is not a simple task—however, it’s worth all the effort. Buying one can seriously damage your reputation. Let us explain why.

As a business with an online presence, it’s only natural to send emails to your customers to keep them posted about the latest updates and activities. Also, you are constantly looking to add to the existing number of email subscribers to have a larger audience and grow your business effectively.

Building a business email marketing list that helps your email reach the intended audience is time-consuming. Most companies look for quick fixes to create the best email marketing lists. But, it often backfires. 

 Email marketing basics

Acquiring a user’s email address has always been challenging, irrespective of the business size and domain. One way to quickly grow your email list is to purchase a ready-made one. It sounds reasonable as well, doesn’t it? Just pay for ‘good quality’ and ‘targeted’ email marketing lists and reap the rewards of your investment.  

But is it effective? The short answer is no. 

And as you read on, we’ll try our best to explain why buying email marketing lists might not be a great idea. 

But before we understand why buying email marketing lists are ineffective, let us first understand how marketers generally acquire a mailing list. 

How to Get an Email Marketing List?

Email marketing list


Purchasing a targeted email list

In this case, you approach a list provider with specific requirements, such as profession, demography, and possible interests of recipients.

For example, you want to promote plant-based food ingredients and ready-to-cook mixes. Thus, you might look for names and email addresses of 50,000 odd people around your city or specific geography who have a potential interest in cooking.

Of course, there are multiple ways to use business email marketing lists to grow your revenue. But buying an email list isn’t one of them.

Renting a targeted mailing list

You rent a targeted email marketing list from a provider instead of curating one, as the name suggests. Next, you identify a demographic of your target audience and inform the provider. Typically, you don’t get to see the people you are messaging the emails. Instead, you constantly need to work with the provider to reach out to your target audience

Email marketing example


Owning a self-generated opt-in email marketing list 

An opt-in email list means a user voluntarily gives their email address to receive updates from you. The opt-in may be in certain types of content, such as newsletters or daily updates.

Such an email marketing list results from users showing genuine interest in your services and implies that they trust you to send valuable information. This is the best email marketing list to optimize for your business. 

These three email acquiring methods clearly distinguish between them and should give you enough information on why it is essential to build your list rather than simply purchasing a ready-made one. 

Example of signing up for email marketing


Why Should You Not Buy Email Marketing Lists?

1. There’s no assurance of the quality of the list

Whenever you approach a provider to buy an email list, there’s no guarantee that the list you receive is entirely trustworthy. Now, the provider may claim that it is a ‘targeted’ email marketing list and entirely ‘opt-in’ compliant (more on that later); there’s just no way to fully validate the list’s quality.

A few problems you might face are:

  • Incomplete or missing data 
  • Wrong names and addresses
  • Incomplete demographics
  • Outdated information

Getting a ready-made list of 10,000-15,000 emails looks great. But what’s the use if you end up with over 50% unwanted, outdated email addresses and incomplete data? 

Another legitimate worry is that these emails might be harvested without the proper consent of the users, which brings us to the following big reason not to purchase an email list.

2. The trouble with international regulations

Most email marketers across the globe are legally required to let recipients opt out of business email marketing lists they do not wish to receive. The users must be able to do so directly within the email message. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a European data privacy and protection act effective since May 2018, emphasizes strictly having an opt-in relationship with your audience. 

So when you purchase an ‘opt-in’ list, as suggested by the provider, there’s a distinction the provider will not tell you. The people on the list did not ‘opt-in’ to receive content specifically from you, making you non-compliant with GDPR. 

Along with GDPR, a few other laws state you should avoid purchasing an email list. One such law is the US CAN-SPAM Act regulating commercial emails. The law does not explicitly prohibit buying or selling email marketing lists. But it does forbid sending out a bulk of unsolicited emails. And when you purchase an email list, you are doing just that. 

Thus, when you purchase an email list, you are unsure whether the provider has fully complied with domestic and international laws, and that might land you in trouble. 

3. You will be deemed as a spammer

We don’t like receiving unsolicited emails. That’s a fact. So imagine what your purchased recipients might feel? Unfortunately, most of them will not appreciate it and simply unsubscribe or mark you as spam. 

You might defend saying your business marketing email lists are well designed, with excellent and valuable content for the readers. But think from their perspective. For them, you are just an unknown brand trying to sell something repeatedly without their consent. 

Pros and cons of buying media lists


4. The trouble with the email service provider

Continuing from the point above, if too many of your messages are being marked as spam, your email service provider (e.g., MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.) will notice. They may then threaten to permanently block or suspend your account and penalize you. Worst case scenario, the ESP may take legal action against you. 

Additionally, some email service providers strictly prohibit purchasing an email list, and you are thus violating their terms of service. 

5. You are not the only buyer

Have you ever wondered if you could think of buying a targeted email marketing list, so could your competitors? And for the listing provider, it’s all business.

So, you are not the only one buying a ‘unique’ list. There’s an excellent chance a lot many companies are already using it. This also leads to a higher chance of you ending up with annoyed recipients and being marked as a spammer. You don’t want that, do you?

6. Poor response rate

Let’s assume that you buy an email list with 10,000 addresses. For you, a 5% conversion rate is acceptable, i.e., 500 out of 10,000 will buy your product or service. So, if the offering is Rs. 1000, you make Rs 500,000 out of the purchased list. Not a bad deal. 

But, here’s the catch. There’s a high chance that you will not be able to reach your target. Add all the factors mentioned above, and the recipients may simply not open the email and engage with it. And even if you get a decent open rate and no one buys the product, you are still at a loss. 

 Email marketing example


7. You are devaluing your brand

Everything that we discussed so far points to one thing: brand devaluation. By purchasing an email list, you are non-compliant with international standards, violating the terms of service of your email service provider, deemed a spammer by prospective clients, and with a high chance of not generating better ROI. All these things will seriously impact your reputation and brand value. 

Just think, do you need to take such risks against a single purchase of an email list? Multiple proven ways exist to create an organic targeted business email marketing list with genuine addresses and correct information.

It may take time (there are different ways to optimize and speed up the process), but you should always consider a long-term approach to growing your business rather than a short-term solution.

You must experiment with your audience to create the best email marketing lists for all your email campaings. Try using different engaging email templates to determine what works for your audience. 

Also, use email marketing automation tools to make sending emails more accessible. Email marketing automation tools could ensure that your emails are delivered promptly.

If you are running out of content creation ideas, try using It is an artificial intelligence-powered instant content generator. Artificial intelligence helps content writers to generate high-quality content faster

Key Takeaways

  • Email marketing lists are less expensive than other types of marketing. It doesn’t cost anything to print or mail, and there aren’t any expenses usually associated with appearing on a particular billboard, publication, or television.
  • Business email marketing lists are probably the most intimate and personalized forms of communication with your customer. Utilize it well to grow your business.
  • Buying email lists are strictly frowned upon as they are not targeted towards ideal content personas. 
  • The best email marketing lists are formed when website visitors drop their emails to willingly receive emails, news, updates, and promotional content from your website. 
  • There are three ways to build email marketing lists. You could buy email lists, rent them, or curate them personally. Create a targeted email list with your subscribers’ emails to see significant revenue growth.
  • If you buy email lists, your email is probably not reaching your targeted customers. There are tons of companies buying these lists. The audience receiving your emails may not even be interested in your niche. 
  • You will not receive good responses if you do not have a business email list. Your emails will not reach your intended audience if you buy email lists.
  • If you make your targeted email list, these customers have a higher chance of opening your emails, as they have willingly signed up for it. Make sure that your website is on point. If you do not have meaningful content to pass on and no compelling CTA urging customers to sign up, it won’t work. 

The Takeaway

Marketers can utilize social media to reach a possibly massive and relevant audience currently pursuing exciting material and ideas. They can then use email to directly interact with those intrigued and have enrolled to get additional content.

You could build email marketing lists by asking people to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Targeted email marketing lists allow you to cultivate relationships with potential, current, and past customers.

It is your chance to talk directly to them in their email at a time that works for them. When combined with the correct messaging, business email marketing lists may become one of the most effective marketing mediums for your email marketing strategy and email campaigns.

To build a successful email marketing campaign, focus on the headline and relevance of your content. The only way to build a successful email campaign is to provide meaningful content.


1. Why is purchasing an email list bad?

Buying an email marketing list is not an excellent step to grow your business because: 
– There’s no assurance of the quality of the list
– The trouble with international regulations
– You will be deemed as a spammer
– The problem with the email service provider
– You are not the only buyer
– Poor response rate
– You are devaluing your brand
Since your targeted audience is not receiving your emails, those receiving them may not even open your emails. There is no point if you have great content, but nobody reads it.

2. Is it worth it to buy email lists?

Businesses need to maximize their investments, including those they want to make in email marketing. However, buying a ready email marketing list is like wasting your money since it damages the sender’s reputation and lowers the value of any legitimate email marketing you may do. Thus, it’s not worth it!

3. Are mailing lists effective?

Research by Small Business Trends says that targeted email marketing does provide the best ROI for both customer acquisition and retention. Thus, having a mailing list is very effective in starting a successful email marketing campaign. Businesses need to build this list slowly and steadily. Buying an email list won’t help your emails reach your targeted audience.

4. Is email marketing suitable for small businesses?

Email marketing is one of the most suitable marketing channels for small businesses. Sending emails does not require other costs like billboards, models, and photoshoots, like traditional forms of marketing. Since targeted email marketing lists are built to send personalized content, small businesses can do it best with a small readership. Still, that list of customers has willingly signed up to receive content from them.