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Purchasing Email Lists? Think Again!

Why continually rent something when you can buy it all in one go and own it entirely? Surely a one-off payment is preferable to weekly or monthly installments? Isn’t renting always more expensive than outright purchase?  

In nearly all cases the answer to these questions would be a resounding ‘Yes’. But there is one example where not only is outright purchase a terrible idea, it will undoubtedly cause damage to reputation and future business prospects. Whatever you do, never, ever, purchase email lists.

It may seem a good idea at the time to purchase an email list. Maybe you like the thought of having full control of that list instead of paying someone every time you needed to email their subscribers? But guess what…any list you buy will be worthless and may result in numerous spam complaints that will point right back at you.

Think rationally for a second. Why would anyone willingly sell an entire list unless it was garbage? Anybody with a shred of business sense would realize that it is far more profitable to rent this list and receive regular continuous payments. List purchase is a total scam and a quick way to make fast money for unscrupulous raconteurs. 

Here are just a few of the many problems concerning an email list purchase:

Irrelevant Email Addresses

It is likely that the list seller is offering a huge list for an inflated price. In order to populate this list there is a big chance that the seller has harvested these email addresses from other websites, without their permission. Moral repugnance aside, these addresses are likely to be from random sites that will have no interest whatsoever in what you have to offer. Email marketing only works if the recipients are targeted and relevant.

Email Reputation and Deliverability

The list seller may claim that their list is populated with only the best ‘opt-in’ email addresses. They are lying through their teeth. If a subscriber opted in, it was to receive information from the original source and not from you. Just because they opted in once does not make this a generic green flag on their part for everyone to send them emails. Most people will add the initial sender to their trusted list but your email will be delivered to a junk folder, bounced, or rejected completely. If you continuously bombard non-compliant email addresses it will result in spam complaints and a potential blacklisting from your MSP (Mail Service Provider) or ISP (Internet Service Provider). Email list purchases are renowned for atrocious delivery ratios.


So you bought a list and are now the proud owner of 1000 new email addresses. Good for you. Are you aware that the list seller also sold that very same list to another 1000 people? If you were the sole owner of the list you may have got away with sending the occasional unsolicited email to list members (yes, that is spam and it is what you would be doing if you do not have their permission to use their email address).  But the fact that they have suddenly started receiving masses of unwanted mail from everyone else, who bought the very same list, will be starting to annoy them ever so slightly. There is a high chance that they will soon have had enough and will marking these emails as spam. Your messages could be among these. Guess what? You now face yet another spam complaint from your MSP and ISP.

Email Spamtraps

There are companies that specialize in tracing down unsolicited emails and tracking spammers. One method of achieving this is to use cleverly located email addresses that are never visible to the human eye, but are often collected by email harvesters and scrapers. The majority of these email traps end up on the email lists available to purchase. The lists sellers may not be aware, they may not care, or they may just be malicious profiteers that enjoy ripping people off and selling infected merchandise (they probably write computer viruses in their spare time too). If you purchase a list there is every chance it will contain spamtraps.

These are just a few of the negative issues concerning an email list purchase. If you were to perform a search engine query for ‘list purchase problems’ you would continuously see the same being words mentioned in every result listing:

  • Spam complaint
  • Blacklisted
  • ISP or MSP ban
  • Spamtraps
  • Bounce
  • Poor deliverability
  • Unsolicited
  • Irrelevant and untargeted
  • And so forth…

Purchasing an email list will damage business reputation. That is a fact. If someone receives unsolicited email from your business they will remember this. Every time they see your business name they will associate it with spam and backhanded marketing practices.

There are no legitimate email lists to purchase. Nobody is stupid enough to sell their best asset when they could make a regular profit from rental. If an email list is reputable it will be only available for rental. Purchased list are a great way to pay money for receiving complaints. Hopefully you get the drift by now. List purchasing is bad. Don’t do it!


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