buy email lists

Pretty Awesome Reasons Why You Should Never Buy Email Lists (And What To Do Instead)

Do people buy email lists? Should you? Does it work? Does it help you make more sales and create more success in your business? 

Well, buying an email list is something you can do. But you've got to do it right. And keep a few considerations in mind. 

Let's have a little dive into this topic. 

Should you buy an email list?

This is a question people often ask when they’re starting with email marketing. However, buying an email list and then reaching out to those contacts isn’t email marketing – it’s prospecting and outreach. So you can buy an email list, but you should never import that list into your email marketing platform because you don't own that data. And doing so is illegal!

The only people you can have on your email list inside your email marketing platform are those who have opted in themselves. People have to tell you they want to be in your world and give you consent to hear from you. It’s against GDPR and other spam regulations around the world to have anyone on your list without their consent. It's also against the rules of email marketing platforms! If you buy a list of contacts and upload them into your platform, they will ban you and shut you down very quickly.

You can buy an email list (but do it right!)

If you do buy an email list, which is something you can do from a legitimate source (such as an email list broker), you can then use a specific outreach platform to contact those people. 

For example, if you decided you wanted to become a guest on other people's podcasts, you could run a cold outreach campaign to some of the top podcasts in your niche. But you wouldn't use your email marketing platform, because that's not allowed. And it's just not the right thing to do! Let's say that again – emailing people from a list you bought when they haven't actively joined your email list themselves is illegal!

So what you can do instead is to use a specialist outreach tool, such as Mailshake or GMass, for example. These systems are designed for cold outreach follow-up, which means you can email them for the first time today and then follow up after a few days.

How to reach out to the contacts you bought

If you want to buy an email list, and you’re in the niche of teaching people how to horse ride, for example, you could get in touch with the publishers of horse riding-related magazines and buy the data of the members who’ve consented to have their details shared. This is all legit because members opted to have their data shared as part of their subscription.

So effectively, in this scenario, it's a bit like you running ads to those people (but you're doing it via their inboxes) and trying to get them to opt into your list. Only when they opt-in themselves, their email addresses can be added to your email list for email marketing. 

Another benefit of using a specialist tool to reach out to cold leads is that the emails are sent from your inbox. You're simply automating the process and spreading these emails out so they’re not all sent at once. Otherwise, you'd be blacklisted.

It's also worth saying that cold outreach isn’t the same as spam because outreach emails aren't mass-sent – they’re individual emails sent automatically with an unsubscribe link at the bottom. So make sure you treat the process as outreach (or prospecting) and not email marketing.   

Do cold outreach with honesty

If you're going to do cold outreach, do it with honesty – don't pretend you're sending someone a single, individual, personalised email when you're sending loads and loads.

As an example (of what not to do) I (Kennedy) recently received a cold email from someone who wanted to pitch themselves as a guest on the podcast. This person tried to make his email look like it was personalised and genuine, but he had an unsubscribe link at the bottom!

Not happy to be ignored, a few days later, the same person emailed again. His tactic was clever (he went through a lot of effort), but it wasn’t truthful. And while you can appreciate his persistence and creativity, his email and his approach were dishonest. Starting a relationship with someone (especially if you want to sell them something) based on dishonesty never leads somewhere good!

Does cold outreach work for everyone? 

A cold outreach strategy works well in some niches but could (potentially) feel weird and alienating in others. Think about your reputation as a business owner as well. Cold outreach potentially works better in B2B spaces because people are more used to receiving random emails with offers about different products and services.

It’s up to you where you draw the line. But if you’re going to email consumers, think about reaching out by offering something of value. Be honest and upfront about where you got their data from. And always allow them to unsubscribe and tell you they don’t want you to follow up.

If you're going to reach out to the subscribers of a horse riding magazine, for example, you could ask the publication to do the emailing for you. You could either agree on a flat fee or an amount per subscriber who subsequently comes into your world. But they email for you. The result is the same – you're buying a list of contacts. But it's easier and more ethical if the emails come from a source that the person recognises.  

The Top 10 Books To 'Power Up' Your Email Marketing

10 book recommendations that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we stumbled upon which have been game-changing for us).

People are more and more conscious of spam

One of the reasons email marketers buy email lists is because their list is too ‘small'. Remember that a list of people who actively chose to hear from you because they’re interested in your topic or subject area is always better than a huge list of people who’ve never heard from you! A smaller, engaged list will always outperform an enormous list of cold leads.  

Buying an email list and adding it to your email marketing platform is illegal. Emails sent out that way are spam. And spamming people is never going to work as a strategy to grow your business. It won't give you results – not positive ones anyway! People will report your emails as spam, and that will damage your reputation as a sender. Your email marketing platform will kick you out in no time.

Plus, people experience a level of confusion when they start receiving emails from someone they don’t recognise. The interaction feels weird, and the person can feel targeted. 

You can still get sales from a ‘small' email list!

Instead of buying email lists of cold leads, build your own email list with your people. Keep your subscribers interested, engaged, and entertained. That’s the whole secret of email marketing! Give people something that offers a solution to the problem they have. And remember that you can make sales from a small email list. This idea of a ‘small' email list is all relative anyway – your list is small compared to what? Based on whose expectations?

Success in email marketing (and in business) is about moving the people on your list towards buying. Don't obsess about those who aren't on your list! Instead, focus deeply on the subscribers who are – give them value and solutions to problems.  

If you want to hear about all the ways you can maximise sales from the people who are on our email list, check out our flagship programme The Email Hero Blueprint. It helps you make more sales with your email marketing.


Make More Sales with our cutting-edge Psychology-Based Email Marketing Programme

  • Psychology-based email marketing.
  • 45+ Email Campaigns.
  • Video Campaign Workshops.
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Subject line of the week

This week’s subject line is “Actually shouted in his face. Actually.” This was an email that Kennedy sent about being angry with a guy who did a U-turn on us during a sales call. Kennedy saw red and went ballistic at him! 

But the reason the subject line works is because it creates compound curiosity. Who shouted? Did Kennedy shout? Did the other person shout? Any time you can create apparent tension between people, you generate curiosity. It also worked because the word ‘actually’ was repeated twice. Kennedy wanted to accentuate the fact that this really did happen. So check it out!

FREE list to improve your email marketing

If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. Here's a list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here

Join the FREE Facebook group

Do you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber? There's a way! Every business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. You'll find a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.

Try ResponseSuite for $1

This content is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.

Join The Email Hero Blueprint 

Want more? If you're a course creator, membership site owner, coach, author, or expert and want to learn all about the ethical psychology-based email marketing that turns 60-80% more of your newsletter subscribers into customers (within 60 days), The Email Hero Blueprint is for you. 

This is hands down the most predictable, plug-and-play way to double your earnings per email subscriber. It allows you to generate a consistent flow of sales without having to launch another product, service, or offer. Best news yet? You won't have to rely on copywriting, slimy persuasion, NLP, or ‘better' subject lines. 

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