August 16th •
People to email—fast ‘n’ cheap.
Tons of marketers have fallen victim to this mindset, where the lure of cheap emailing lists calls to answer fill our hungry sales machine. But caving to the promise of cheap email lists can only hurt your business in the long run.
Sure, you could just fire up PayPal and instantly have access to thousands or tens of thousands of brand-new email contacts, just a moment away from plugging them in to your slick email campaign. But what sort of damage can it really do to your business? And more importantly, how can you build your own email list instead of buying one?
There are three main ways to get your hands on an email list…
1. Buy an email list.
Working with a list provider, you buy a collection of email addresses and names based on various information, ranging from psychological information to demographics.
Want to buy a list with 20k names and email addresses of single guys living in Albuquerque? You got it.
2. Rent an email list.
List providers can also grant you access to rented lists, where you get the same segment of the population but without seeing the email addresses themselves. This requires coordination with the list provider whenever you send out email.
3.Own an Opt-In Email List
An opt-in list is built by getting people to voluntarily give you their email address and personal information, such as opting in to receive alerts for new content, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading an eBook.
Opt-in lists require earning the trust of your subscribers—you can see where we’re going with this.
Even when buying pre-built lists, list owners might try to convince you they’re 100% “opt-in only.” What they means is that, yes, at some point the people on that list opted in to some list, but not necessarily any list relevant to your own marketing efforts.
You can probably see the huge distinction here, but people selling these lists tend to skip over that one crucial fact.
So, those are the three main ways to get your hand on a juicy emailing list. Now, let’s examine a few reasons why using an opt-in list created with through your own effort is the only clear choice here.
Reputable email marketing vendors won’t let you use email lists you’ve bought.
If you’re using software now (or plan to in the future) for your email marketing, you’ll quickly realize that the best companies demand that you use opt-in email lists.
If you think you can just use a disreputable email marketing company, don’t try it—your list will suffer from poor delivery rates if it contains just one email gotten by illegitimate means.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but those thousands of email addresses are worthless if your marketing material doesn’t even get delivered.
Good email addresses aren’t for sale.
If a list is for sale, the only way to get any value out of it is to be the very first person to buy it. Email addresses with any value AREN’T for sale, they’re being hoarded by the company who collected the data.
Once those email addresses have been spammed a billion times, you can bet you’re paying for absolute garbage.
If you worked hard to make your own opt-in email list, would you share it with someone else? So why would you buy one?
People on purchased/rented lists don’t know you.
Oftentimes these rented or bought lists are scraped from legitimate websites, which isn’t cool. But even if they’re not—and the list company says they sell “opt-in” lists, is that any better?
Nope. Those contacts might have opted in to receive emails from some company, yes…but not yours. They don’t know you, and sending them marketing emails is akin to getting a telemarketing call in the middle of dinner.
Where telemarketers would get hung up on, your emails are getting labeled SPAM. That means the opt-in list you bought is totally worthless.
Your IP reputation and deliverability will take a nosedive.
There are organizations out there who live and breathe email spam—as in fighting spam, not making spam. That’s awesome, right? By using a honeypot email address planted in various email lists, they’re able to identify spammy senders as, well…spammers.
Besides these honeypots, people create spam traps to identify when old email addresses that are no longer valid receive consistent (spammy) email traffic. That address becomes a spam trap and is used to, again, identify spammers.
Unfortunately you’re not privy to that kind of information when you buy an email list. You have no idea how often those emails have been messaged, how long they’ve been inactive, or if any of them are honeypots. You don’t even know where those addresses came from.
Are you willing to risk being identified as a spammer and compromise the integrity of your company? People whose sender scores tank because of using email lists find that boosting their score back up can take YEARS. Is that really worth it?
You’re not a spammer.
Look, you and I don’t like receiving unsolicited emails from strangers. So why send them?
You can’t convince a bought list of unknown contacts to suddenly fall in love with you and your company. You can convince strangers and visitors to your site with compelling content and valuable offers, though.
Building trust is a process, and you can’t skip that process by buying an email list.
Here are the basics of building a real, honest-to-goodness opt-in email list that will actually put in work for your business.
1. Make gated assets so people feel compelled to give your their email address.
Gated access might sound like a dirty word, but it’s really not. Anytime you offer a free eBook download or webinar, that’s gated access—free in terms of cost, but you’re still obtaining crucial contact information to use in email marketing later.
2. Create things that are actually useful.
If eBooks sound boring, make something else instead. Different niches might be better suited to offer videos or other online tools that really provide value to their customers. Get creative and just think—if I were my customer, what would make me part ways with my email address?
3. Promoted gated assets through your marketing channels.
Nobody can download your assets if they can’t find them.
Social media, email, PPC—these are all great tools for pushing gated content. But none of them are quite as powerful as your blog.
Blogging around similar subject matter as your gated content provides ample opportunities to push said content with CTAs. If your first post gets a thousand views per month and 1% of those people download your gated content…and you produce more and more blogs around that content…and those posts are up for a year…well, you can see how fast your blog can add data to your opt-in list.
4. Build creative email campaigns.
Don’t be boring with your emails. Email can really be used to generate leads and sales if you do it right, especially if your make your marketing emails something people want to share instead of just reading themselves.
Also, don’t forget…if your list has been around for a while, you might have some inactive contacts of your own sitting around. Rather than risk getting penalized as spam, cook up a fun re-engagement campaign to see if those contacts are extinct or just dormant.
The world is your oyster when you take time to build your own list instead of buying the bargain bin version from someone else.
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