Why buying email lists is always a good idea

To run any kind of marketing campaign, you need a list of accounts and contacts. You need people who are in the right industry or location to make use of your product or service, and the right role to make or influence buying decisions for their company.

So you basically need people you can email, but you don’t have an opted-in / consented data pot hiding away in some corner of your CRM. You might have contacts in your CRM, but if not a great way of getting emails quickly and cost-effectively is to buy a list.

That purchased list can really help support your sales team with net new leads and pipeline.

Thousands of contacts are a click away, available to add to your email marketing program if you only start thinking about a different legal basis to consent. Enter stage left… Legitimate Interest.

Methods of Acquiring an Email List

Before we get into the advantages of buying email addresses and why it can help with your outbound marketing, let’s take a look at the 3 ways to build up this collection of email addresses:

Buy an email list.

You work with a list provider to find and purchase a list of names and email addresses based on demographic and/or location information. For example, you might purchase a list of 10,000 names and email addresses of people who live in Birmingham and work in accountancy.

Rent an email list.

Also working with a list provider, you identify a segment of people to email — but you never actually own the list. As such, you can’t see the email addresses of the people you’re emailing, so you must work with the provider to send out your email.

Own an opt-in email list.

Someone voluntarily gives you their email address either online or in-person so you can send them emails. They may pick certain types of email content they wish to receive, like specifically requesting email alerts when new blog posts are published. Opt-in email addresses are the result of earning the interest and trust of your contacts because they think you have something valuable to say.


Why You Should Buy Email Lists

Whenever the debate about purchased data comes up, you’ll hear the same arguments come up time and time again. We decided it was worth taking the time to answer each of these in detail, so keep this list to hand and prove you know your stuff! Below is a quick overview, but if you want to dig deeper then read the full blog.

  1. You’ll violate the rules of consent under GDPR. A: Not using Legitimate Interest you won’t
  2. Reputable email marketing services don’t let you send emails to lists you’ve bought. A: Only because they operate outside of the counties that allow Legitimate Interest as a valid, legal basis. Being reputable has nothing to do with it.
  3. Good email address lists aren’t for sale. A: Yes they are for B2B marketing
  4. People on a purchased or rented list don’t actually know you. A: This is the same for TV advertising (or most advertising for that matter). Email is a good channel to let them know about you!
  5. You’ll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation. A: Possibly, but only if you poorly manage your sending. A good ESP like Spotler will help you manage this and has a method to limit any deliverability or reputation issues.
  6. You can come across as annoying. A: You can come across as annoying on any channel not just via email!
  7. Your email service provider can penalize you. A: They absolutely can. But we won’t as data purchase and emailing that data is a really good, cost-effective and legitimate way of generating leads.

    1. You won’t violate GDPR regulations; the Legitimate Interest basis for processing has you covered.

    Most email marketers around the world are legally required to allow recipients to opt out of emails they no longer want to receive. Contacts must be able to do this directly in the email message. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a European data privacy act that went into effect in May 2018, doubles down on the opt-in side of this relationship. The other way that GDPR is focused on recipients is that it is their location which is relevant, not yours. It doesn’t matter where you’re based, if your recipient resides inside the European Union, GDPR covers them.

    However, among the 6 legal bases for processing data is Legitimate Interest. This along with PECR in the UK means you can email business contacts. In short, if you can demonstrate that your recipient would benefit from your services, then you can contact them without an opt-in. At Spotler, we could send emails about our platform to a B2B marketing manager under Legitimate Interest, but we couldn’t email support staff at a nursery. The key to using Legitimate Interest properly is having clearly defined personas. These will allow you to explain why you were contacting someone if they ask, as they have every right to do.

    It is important to note that if anyone you have contacted under Legitimate Interest wishes to opt-out after your first message, they must be able to do so.


    2. Reputable email marketing services will let you send emails to lists you’ve bought.

    It’s not about reputable or non-reputable companies; the important distinction is whether your ESP uses shared IP addresses.

    ESPs on shared IP addresses typically require customers to use opt-in email lists Why? Because it only takes one customer to email a dodgy address to sabotage the deliverability of their entire customer base. Spotler customers all receive their own IP addresses, so you don’t have to worry about what anyone else is doing to your deliverability.

    Also if their company is able to process data under Legitimate Interest, the ESP might take a stance and say only consent is allowed – and this is what the vast majority of ESPs do.


    3. Good email address lists are for sale to B2B marketers.

    No data set is 100% perfect, regardless of what source it comes from. People change jobs, change their names, see their roles evolve and their responsibilities change.

    We can’t deny that there are dodgy data sellers out there, so you need some due diligence before any money changes hands. Listen to our chat with Gemma from Freeman Clarke, for her top tips on how to engage with a data seller. Freeman Clarke’s business model relies heavily on purchased data, so Gemma knows her stuff!

    We use three preferred suppliers and I am sure they’d welcome a call if you wanted to see what is available.





    4. People on a purchased or rented list don’t actually know you.

    People who see your TV ads/social ads/billboards/branded T-shirts don’t know you; this issue isn’t confined to email lists!

    When you work for a brand, you live and breathe it. But no-one else has the same level of engagement with your brand, even your customers. When I’m looking for content, training or inspiration, I don’t care whether I “know” the person delivering it. I care about the quality of the content I’m getting. If your emails are clearly delivering value, purchased contacts are just as likely to engage as opted-in ones.


    5. You won’t harm your email deliverability and IP reputation if you take precautions.

    We all know that there are companies dedicated to combating email spam. You know the emails right? The ones about Viagra or your late great, great, great, great grandfather has left you $4 billion dollars, or someone has left you land in Sierra Leone… We get fewer of these nowadays as the spam filters are doing a good job at spotting them and stopping them hitting your inbox.

    But as marketers, we could also be accused of sending ‘spam’. It just depends on your definition of the word.

    When buying data the tricky bit is the quality of the data itself. Is there going to be a honeypot, (an email address which is a planted that identifies the sender as a spammer) or spam traps that can be created to identify ‘spammy’ activity (this is monitored by hard bounces. I.e. because the email is old or no longer valid, but still receives consistent traffic).

    But all these things are manageable when buying data and using email as an outbound method to generate leads. Check with the data supplier the validity of the email addresses for example. Most will have a ‘guarantee’ of 90, 80 or 70% deliverability as the emails have been ‘pinged’ to make sure that are ‘live’.

    Make sure you use an ESP that removes the hard bounces from being sent to again. Limiting the chance of your IP or domain being blacklisted.

    Rotate IPs or sending domains so if you do hit a ‘honey trap’ or stumble into an issue, you still have a sending domain to send from so you can still use outbound email as a core part of your lead generation. Having multiple sending domains is also a good way to ensure that you remain in the inbox rather than being pushed into the ‘other’ folder on Outlook.

    Utilise batch sending (for example rather than sending 10,000 emails at once, throttle the sending to 100 emails an hour over 3-5 days) and warm up IPs and domains so spam filters see you as a sender that is ‘naturally’ increasing the volume and frequency of sending.

    Once you know about these things and have an email provider that allows, understands and knows how to help you do this, emailing purchased data suddenly doesn’t seem so risky and means you will start getting a really good volume of leads in a short timeframe that few other channels can match.


    6. You can come across as annoying if your content isn’t relevant.

    Advertising and marketing messages are only annoying when they’re not relevant to what you need. If I’m shopping for new running shoes and I get a pop-up advert for cat food, it’ll annoy me. If the pop-up is advertising a sale on running shorts, then it’s relevant and I don’t mind it. Much like the “people don’t know you” argument that we’ve already covered, it’s the content that drives value for the reader, not the person bringing it. If your content isn’t relevant or useful to the recipient, where you got their email address is immaterial.


    7. Your email service provider can penalize you, but they probably won’t.

    ESPs work hard to protect their users, so they keep records of which domains deliver content that is regularly marked as spam. Guess what sort of content gets marked as spam? Content that isn’t wanted, or that is delivered too often or at irrelevant times. If someone finds you through organic search, signs up to your webinar, then receives 7 emails in the next 24 hours from you, guess what they’ll do? Yep, most likely complain and make you as spam!

    Conversely, just because your name isn’t familiar, if you’re offering something that your potential customer genuinely needs, they will probably engage. Henry Ford is reputed to have said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked me for a faster horse.” Making people aware that your product exists has a name: marketing!


    The convenient truth

    All told then, purchased data is a perfectly legitimate way to gather a list of target accounts for your marketing campaigns. While there are pitfalls to watch out for, none of these are of the illegal variety, and most are not unique to bought lists. With the right nurturing strategy in place, supported by a system like Spotler, you can make sure that you never suffer Buyer’s Remorse when dealing with data.


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