Don’t Buy an Email Address List!

email-address-book-665x498Buying an email address list containing people who never opted in to receive email communications from you is a bad idea.

If the thought crossed your mind, you’re not alone. I’ve been asked my opinion about the topic twice in the past week.

Here are three reasons why you should not purchase an email list:

Reputable Email Marketing Platforms Don’t Allow It
Email marketing platforms like Exact Target and Constant Contact do not allow users to send mass email blasts to email addresses that haven’t opted-in to receive them. This is considered unsolicited email. Yes, we’re talking about spam. Here’s what Constant Contact has to say about the topic:
Constant Contact has a no tolerance spam policy. Constant Contact’s customer support actively monitors large import lists and emails going to a large number of subscribers. Any customer found to be using Constant Contact for spam will be immediately cut-off from use of the product.

Exact Target takes a similar position
Our clients certify that they will use our software only to send emails to customers and prospects that have directly consented (opted-in) to receive email. They are forbidden to transmit unsolicited commercial email (spam) via our system.
Notice how this language doesn’t just apply to purchased email lists either. “Free” email lists like exports of prospects in LinkedIn, trading lists with other companies, and building lists by searching for prospect addresses online are all considered spam since the users aren’t choosing to interact with your company.

Most Spam is Illegal in the U.S. and Canada
Spam has become such a large issue that the U.S. government passed the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003 attempting to make most spam illegal. The Canadian government rolled out a similar policy called the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act in July 2014. Spam is such a concern that federal governments felt the need to put legislation in place to fine and/or imprison spammers.

People Don’t Like Spam
You know how frustrating it is when you have to weed through a bunch of garbage in your inbox to get to the relevant messages. Everyone with an email address gets exposed to spam and no one is happy about it. Do you really want your business to follow the lead of overseas scam artists, illegal erectile dysfunction pill distributors, and email hackers?

The important takeaway from all of this is that you should not be sending email messages to users unless they completed at least one of the following actions with your company:

  • Requested information
  • Made a purchase
  • Responded to a survey
  • Made offline contact

To be safe, we recommend adding an opt-in check box to all forms on your website that explicitly say, “Yes, I’d like to receive email communications.” If you want to capture email addresses over the phone, be sure to ask and document their opt-in using your customer relationship management system.

Purchasing email address lists is a bad idea. Don’t. Do. It.

Certified in both Google AdWords and Analytics, Jon has a passion for all things web and shares that experience here on the blog. You’ll find him frequently talking e-commerce, digital strategy, pay-per-click, and more.

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