We get it, growing your database and reaching more people is exciting. So it may be tempting as an email or text marketer to purchase contact lists. What better way to quickly and easily expand your reach?

The reality is, however, that as a marketer you should never buy email lists – not only is it illegal in most countries, it’s detrimental to your business in the long run.

Here’s why.

Buying Contact Lists

With thousands of contacts just a small payment away, many marketers and business owners fall prey to buying contact lists. Especially with the growing amount of spammers sending emails offering to sell contact lists from your competitors. And lately these email list sellers have become a little more careful about the way they offer these lists.

Example of a real contact list spam email sent to the author’s inbox

For example, email subject lines may avoid the phrase ‘Contact list’ in favor of ‘Users Information’. Here’s a recent example that we seem to receive a lot of. Typically these emails will attempt to 1) sell the benefit, 2) list your competitors or similar businesses, then 3) offer their shady product.

In this example, “Sophie” knows that ClickSend is in the mobile marketing space, and has thus identified other B2B software services to offer her list from.

So why exactly is it bad is it to buy contact lists? Read on to find out.

The Contact Information You Buy Will Be of Little Value

Valuable contact lists are like treasure – and legitimate business owners will not risk diminishing the value of their contacts by selling the information on. Email lists or contact information for purchase are not of high quality – often they are obtained in ways that range from unethical to downright criminal. This may include:

  • 3rd party access to a website’s mailing list
  • scraping web pages
  • guessing and cleaning
  • scraping contact info from legitimate directories (eg. White Pages, Yellow Pages)
  • gaining access to email and address books belonging to other people or businesses
  • hacking websites
  • buying contact lists from suppliers who do the above

As such, these lists of email addresses will not likely generate many, if any, leads for your business. Any list that’s for sale has already been sold numerous times to numerous others and the recipients on these lists may have already been spammed mercilessly by an array of businesses.

Additionally, people who are placed on a purchased list have not opted-in to receive your messages; in all likelihood, they may not be a fan of or even be familiar with your brand. If you are not a recognized sender, your emails will likely land in the spam folder, or be marked as spam and your messages never opened. Spam text messages can also be blocked by users and reported to governing bodies (eg. FTC in the US or ACMA in Australia).

Spamming is NEVER Ok

And did we mention illegal?

Buying email contact lists and using them constitutes spamming. Furthermore, unsolicited marketing messages from businesses are annoying and in many cases will be deleted without ever being opened. Only recipients who have opted-in to receive your emails should ever receive this kind of contact from you.

Spam is not ok

It’s always a good idea to understand the rules and laws dictating what you can and cannot send depending on where your contacts are located:

Note: as technology becomes more sophisticated, these rules and laws evolve and adapt. The advice above is general in nature and correct at the time of writing. For specific information about spam and compliance, seek legal advice.

Spamming Reduces Your Deliverability

Many online messaging platforms have in-built mechanisms to prevent businesses from engaging in spammy communications.

Your SMS Provider May Shut Down Your Account

A reputable text message service will actively discourage businesses from spamming. If you send unsolicited text messages or emails from your ClickSend account, you may find your account blocked without warning.

Your Emails May Get Throttled

If you want to find out how to ensure your emails reach your recipients without getting dropped by the email provider or entangled in a spam filter check out our post about email deliverability.

Email spam is a major problem and internet service providers (ISPs), as well as dedicated companies, create “spam traps” to identify spammers. For example, the ISP may create a new email address and place it on websites, such that when an email scraper scrapes these sites for email addresses they’re easily identified as spammers by the spam trap (or “honey pot” as they’re sometimes called ?). These spammy senders are then tagged as such and their email sending reputation with their ISP suffers.

If you develop a reputation for being spammy with your email service provider, they may start to limit the number and/or frequency of emails you can send. This is known as throttling. And it can have damaging consequences if you send a large marketing blast, which throttles your time-sensitive transactional emails.

A reputable email marketing service will not allow emails to be sent to purchased lists of recipients. Instead, only opt-in email lists will be used.

How Can I Grow My Contact List?

There are many ways to grow your email or text message contact list with clean, opt-in contact information. Check out our 22 ways to grow your contact list.

Here at ClickSend, we’re here to support our customers to ensure that they treat their customer contact lists and lists of potential leads correctly. Talk to us about how to safely send your text message marketing campaigns via our live chat – day or night! Or sign up now for your free trial.