Email marketing is considered to be a highly powerful tool, so when companies decide to put their hands on it, they usually can’t wait to begin sending emails. However, they quickly stumble upon a problem: how to get mailing lists for marketing? Is there a way to purchase a ready-made mailing list from a data supplier to speed up the process?
Even though purchasing a mailing list may seem like a fast and an effective solution, it can actually bring more pain than gain. In this article, we’ll explain why and offer some alternative methods which you can use with no harm to your sender reputation and email marketing results.
So, why shouldn’t you purchase mailing lists?
Reason #1: users don’t expect emails and mark them as spam
Inbox is a personal space, so users may find unwanted emails really annoying. Not recognizing the sender, people are likely to move their emails to the spam folder. Even the most carefully handcrafted mailing list may include the recipients who might forget your company or click “spam” instead of unsubscribing.
Mailbox providers track the reputation of every particular sender based on spam marks. You need to do your best to prevent emails from landing into the spam folder because the more users mark emails as spam, the lower is the deliverability rate. When it comes to purchased mailing lists, the quality of which is usually very low, the number of those users will be extremely high, and that will lead to another problem — a sender getting blacklisted.
Reason #2: there’s a high chance to get blacklisted
First of all, let’s determine what a blacklist is.
A blacklist is a list of IP addresses and domains which were blocked for sending spam via email. Mailbox providers try to reduce the percentage of spam messages, which in 2018 accounted for 55% of all emails, by blocking unsafe domains and IP addresses.
If a domain got to the internal blacklist of Gmail or any other mailbox provider, emails sent from this domain would automatically get to the “Spam” folder, avoiding “Inbox.” However, if a domain is in the external real-time blacklist (RBL), the emails will not even get to the “Spam” folder; they will rather be fully ignored by the mailbox providers.
There are two main factors which influence the chances of a sender getting blacklisted:
- The occurrence of spam traps. Spam traps look like email addresses of real people, but in fact, they don’t belong to anyone, which means they can’t get subscribed to any mailing list on their own. Mailing lists that are sold online are most likely to have at least several spam traps. As a result, senders who hit spam traps get high bounce rates and low deliverability, which puts their sender reputation under risk.
- Subscriber activity. Purchased mailing lists consist of invalid or inactive email addresses and people who don’t expect emails from this sender. That’s why open and click rates for such lists are low, while spam complaints are high. For mailbox providers, such statistics are a sign that this sender produces irrelevant and spammy content, so it’s high time to blacklist them.
To get themselves out of the blacklist, email senders have to contact mailbox providers and prove that they’ve fixed the problem, updated their mailing list, and won’t send spam again. However, there’s no guarantee that a mailbox provider will give such sender a second chance.
Reason #3: trying to purchase mailing lists is illegal
One of the first questions that should come to a sender’s mind is, are purchased mailing lists legal at all? The answer is no — they are illegal, and the penalty for purchasing a mailing list and sending spam varies from country to country. There are such regulations as the GDPR in Europe, the CAN-SPAM Act the US, and others which protect users from receiving spam.
Email service providers like SendPulse abide by the laws and don’t allow senders to use purchased mailing lists and can block an account that violates the rules. Every SendPulse user has to accept the Terms of Service before starting to send out emails. Therefore, if the emails are sent without a user’s consent, a sender violates the Terms of Service as well as the anti-spam legislation and their account gets blocked. To avoid such cases, email service providers moderate emails sent to a new or a large mailing list by asking their users to confirm that those emails were gathered legally.
Let’s take a look at the two most widespread regulations.
The General Data Protection Regulation was accepted in May 2018 on the territory of the European Union in order to protect user data. Some of the rules related to purchased mailing lists include
- explicit consent from every subscriber;
- protection against user data leakage.
When senders purchase mailing lists from a source no matter what it is, they violate both of these rules as they haven’t received any consent from users and have possibly bought the leaked user data. Administrative fines for violating the GDPR rules can go up to €20 mln or 4% of the worldwide annual revenue.
The CAN-SPAM Act violation may cost senders up to $42,530 for every email, so it’s important to comply with the rules. For the CAN-SPAM Act, the rules related to purchased mailing lists are similar to the ones for the GDPR:
- once a user unsubscribed, a sender can’t use or sell the email address;
- a company is still being responsible for the emails and the compliance with the anti-spam regulations even if it hires somebody else to do their email marketing.
There’s no way to legally purchase a mailing list. There’s also no way to collect a large mailing list in one day. The process must be legal and fair, so what you need is patience, if you don’t want to put your sender reputation at risk, of course.
Right ways to get subscribers
By using several methods at once like subscription forms, social media subscriptions, lead forms, and others, you will not only speed up the growth of your mailing list but will also do it without violating any rules.
Here are some ideas how to get subscribers:
- Place subscription forms on different pages of your website and remember to put the explicit consent checkbox on every form if you use single opt-in.
- Use double opt-in to make sure you don’t have bots and spam traps in your mailing list. It can also be used to check the explicit consent of users if you don’t have a user consent checkbox in the subscription form.
- Integrate Facebook and email marketing by placing a subscription form right on your Facebook page.
- Use lead magnets such as discounts, gifts, free eBooks, and other helpful resources in exchange for the email addresses.
When it comes to collecting addresses for your mailing list, always prefer quality over quantity. Purchasing a mailing list, you not only risk your sender reputation but also play dirty.
As we mentioned above, SendPulse is compliant with the GDPR and other anti-spam regulations. If you carefully harvest your mailing list in a legal way, you can be calm about the emails you send out.