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Buy Mailing Lists

Mailing Lists

Should I buy mailing lists?

If your business is about to begin marketing by email, you may be considering whether or not to buy mailing lists. Of course, there are other ways of gaining the email addresses of potential customers. For example, when a customer places an order with your business, ask for an email address so that you can keep them informed of future products and offers. Your website could be adapted so that registration (including the provision of a valid email address) gives access to extra information, or even entertaining content such as games and quizzes. Some sites require visitors to register before gaining access to the most basic information. Doing this does mean that you will gain some email addresses, but the gain is greatly outweighed by the loss of potential customers. Most casual web surfers will immediately leave a site if required to register, and look for another site that gives them the information they need without asking for contact details first.

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You could also contact your list of existing customers to ask if any of them would prefer to be contacted by email. That way, you show customers that you are committed to contacting them in the way they prefer, and you gain valid email addresses as well. However, many businesses decide that the only way of conducting a successful email marketing campaign is to buy one or more mailing lists.

Buying mailing lists: what you should know

The best way of finding a company that sells email mailing lists is to use an Internet search engine. If a company selling email marketing information is legitimate, it should have a website. However, the nature of the business means that it is very difficult to judge the quality of the data on sale. Unfortunately, some of the companies that sell mailing lists are created for spammers and share the ethics of spammers. They may sell you invalid email addresses before becoming completely uncontactable . However, there are ways of minimizing the risk of this happening:

  • Look at the website. Spotting a dubious company isn't very different from spotting a spam email. Are there spelling mistakes? Does the explanatory blurb use a lot of capital letters? Does the site use garish colors ?
  • Consider what the company is offering. If claims seem too good to be true, they probably are. For example, some companies offer more than 300 million email addresses. When you consider that the US population is less than 300 million, such claims must clearly be taken with a pinch of salt.
  • Obtain a postal address. You will probably deal with the company through the Internet or by telephone, but a legitimate company should have a postal address.
  • Look at the conditions of use. If a company requires you to send no more than two or three emails to the addresses on the list, there is a better chance that the addresses are valid and belong to genuine potential customers. Most companies with this kind of restriction will ensure you stick to the conditions of use by including a "seeded" address that actually belongs to the company. If you mail that address more than the agreed number of times, the company will know that you have broken your agreement. If a company allows you to make free use of the addresses and mail them as often as you like, the addresses are less likely to belong to potential customers.

How much does it cost to buy mailing lists?

Prices of mailing lists vary greatly, but, as with the other promises, if the money looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If a company charges you $30 a year for 81 million addresses and then claims that all the owners of those addresses have opted to receive promotional emails, this is almost certainly not true. The best you can hope for at that price is that most of the addresses are valid.

As a general rule, the fewer addresses a company offers you, the more likely those addresses are to be valid. However, it is very unlikely that the people on any list have actively chosen to receive promotional mailings such as yours. Hardly anyone chooses to receive advertising emails from unfamiliar companies. If a user fails to send an "unsubscribe" message, they are likely to be classed as "choosing" to receive further messages, despite the fact that many users fail to send such messages precisely because they are afraid that any response will encourage more junk mail.

It is very difficult, when buying a mailing list, to ascertain the validity of the addresses and the level of potential interest in your product or service. There are so many factors to consider when conducting an email marketing campaign that it can be difficult to judge the quality of the list, even when you have completed the campaign and measured its success. Think carefully before buying a mailing list, because there is a lot of uncertainty involved.