In this guest piece, Shamita Jayakumar (pictured below), senior marketing manager at Campaign Monitor, warns not to give into temptation and seek out purchased lists for your email marketing strategy.
Nothing is more important to the success of your email marketing campaigns than your list of subscribers. The success of your marketing initiatives, not to mention your business, depends on an interested and engaged list.
Many are tempted to hurry along list building efforts by purchasing an email list, but giving in to that moment of temptation can lead to poor email results and possibly damage your mailing reputation for a long, long time.
Here are some of the reasons why purchased lists are a huge no-no for email marketing.
The best service providers don’t allow purchased lists
As long as you’re using a reputable email service provider to send your email campaigns, you won’t be allowed to use a purchased list – at all. Most platforms will ask up front that the email list is opted in, meaning those on the list opted in to specifically receive emails from your company. Some will ask list members to re-opt in as well.
Most email service providers monitor everything in their system and will know if you’re trying to send to a questionable list. This allows them to have a good sending reputation and to get the emails they send on behalf of their customers delivered. If something causes a problem, impacting their business and customers, they’ll be sure to find the culprit and bar them from their system.
Bad addresses, bad delivery rate, bad reputation
Addresses on a purchased list are likely to be poor quality. At the very least, the addresses will be old and unlikely to be used much, if at all. You’ll see higher bounce rates because of this, and more likely to see higher complaints as well. Typically, a bounce rate below two per cent is optimal, and if it goes over five per cent, there’s a definite problem with the list. The overall campaign stats will be underwhelming if much of the list is undeliverable. One other thing that can happen with old addresses is that they become spam traps or honeypots. These are email addresses used specifically to find people using questionable lists and will cause serious damage to your sending reputation, resulting in fewer emails getting to the inbox. If you hit a spam trap used by a domain like Yahoo! or Gmail, or an anti-spam company like Spamhaus, you’ll find yourself blacklisted or blocked from sending.
Stranger danger also applies online
Remember you’re sending email campaigns to people. You design your email to make it easy for a person to read and add calls-to-action to encourage your readers to click. You know that there is a person at the other end of that email address. If people didn’t ask to hear from you and suddenly receive an unexpected email in their inbox from a sender they don’t recognise, it’s nearly guaranteed that they will delete it and report it as spam. Forcing your way into someone’s inbox without permission is like showing up to a dinner party hosted by someone you don’t know, uninvited. It’s not a great way to start a relationship with a customer or client. Most people are savvy about their email address and will know if they signed up for your email list or not.
Ditch the ‘me too’ approach
Sometimes an email marketer will be following the rules about email lists and not doing anything questionable when in walks the boss demanding to see a bigger, better and more active email list. Rumours will circulate about the big competitor down the street having a huge list and all they did was buy it. Why didn’t you? “Everyone buys lists, no one really cares where the addresses came from!” While this certainly does happen, everyone doesn’t buy lists and those that do can run into some serious problems. A large list doesn’t mean a high-performing one. You want the people on your list to open your email and take an action. A smaller list of engaged readers will benefit your business far more than a large list of uninterested ones.
Growing from the ground up
There are many ways to grow an opted in email list, it all depends on what type of business you have. An easy one to get started with is a sign-up form on your website. You can customise how the form looks and what data you collect. You can also use it on your blog, or on Facebook if that’s a good channel for your business. If you do in-person events or have a brick-and-mortar store, you can have people sign up in person or using an app.
There are a number of crucial reasons to invest time into growing your email list instead of buying one, as we’ve covered. Buying a list may seem like a quick fix, but in the long run it will lose money and damage, or worse off ruin your brand’s reputation. If you want your email to get to the inbox so it can be read, make sure your email lists are opted in and have grown the right way. The time spent building a good email list will pay off when you have a high-performing list of people who can’t wait to read your emails.