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We all are seeking a quick fix or an immediate solution to our problems. Email marketing isn’t an exception. Building your email marketing list takes time, and we don’t mean a few weeks. Seeing an impact on your email marketing list is an ongoing process that needs a unique strategy to identify new opportunities and ongoing maintenance to ensure your contacts are engaged and qualified. We know the urge for quick results in order to reach a larger audience is pressing, and there are tempting shortcuts like list buying, but we encourage you to explore our top 5 drawbacks to buying email lists. 


One of the fundamental principles of authentic list growth and effective email marketing is consent. When purchasing contact lists, you are reaching out to individuals who did not explicitly opt-in to receive communication or marketing messages from your business.

There are a variety of consequences to this such as:

  • These individuals are more likely to perceive your email marketing efforts as spam
  • It can lead to lower open rates, impact your email deliverability, and destroy your sender domain
  • It also has the potential of damaging your brand’s reputation by likely not curating your own list filled with, expectedly, more high-quality leads

You should strive for list growth that creates authentic engagement which should be based on a subscriber’s genuine interest in your product, service, or brand. The individuals found while using purchased email lists are not anticipating the messages and, most of the time, not wanting the unsolicited messages

Deliverability Issues 

Buying email lists can have a detrimental impact on your email deliverability metrics across various fronts. First and foremost, the bounce rate, which indicates the number of emails that fail to reach their intended recipients, tends to be significantly higher when using purchased contact lists. These lists often contain outdated or incorrect email addresses, leading to a higher likelihood of bounced emails.

Similarly, spam complaints are more likely to arise from recipients who never consented to receive your emails in the first place, resulting in a negative impact on your sender’s reputation. Consequently, by looking like a spammer to the bought email contacts, your deliverability rate, which measures the success of your emails reaching the inbox, may suffer, as your emails may end up in the spam folder.

Additionally, the unsubscribe rate could spike as recipients feel overwhelmed or frustrated by unsolicited emails, leading them to disengage and unsubscribe from your list. It is extremely important to focus on building an organic, quality email list to ensure better email deliverability and maintain a positive sender reputation.

Audience Engagement

The quality of an email list is just as crucial as its size. When taking into account your organization’s target market, purchased email lists often consist of generic, outdated, or irrelevant contacts. These individuals may have no interest in your offerings, which establishes a decrease in your engagement metrics such as open rate, click rate, and click through rate. Your emails will start to showcase ineffective results at the end of the quarter, which can give a false reading on the impact email marketing can have on your engaged subscribers.

Effective email marketing relies on understanding the demographics and user behavior of your target audience through the crafting of personalized email content that resonates with their needs and preferences. By using purchased email lists, you miss out on the unique opportunity that email marketing offers brands to connect with genuinely interested and engaged subscribers. 

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Legal Implications

Due to the increase in list-buying efforts, numerous countries have introduced explicit data protection regulations. The goal of these regulations is to safeguard individual privacy for consumers. Each time you go through the process of purchasing contact lists, you are potentially violating these laws and regulations which can expose your business to legal consequences and severe financial penalties.

If you are looking for more information on regulation examples, we encourage you to learn more about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. Each of these focuses on emphasizing the importance of obtaining consent and respecting the rights of their citizens. Building your email list organically ensures that you are compliant and will protect your business from legal troubles. 

Damaging to Your Brand Reputation

One of the main goals we have seen throughout the current digital marketing landscape is maintaining a positive brand reputation. By sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists, you risk alienating potential customers and damaging your brand’s image.

Negative reviews, spam complaints, and a tarnished reputation can have long-lasting effects on your business and brand awareness. These damages to your reputation only make it harder to regain the trust of your audience, who, once there is mistrust, are more likely not to respond to calls to action like, for instance, cashing in on new customer coupon codes. Instead, you should focus on building a strong reputation through ethical marketing practices and genuine audience engagement is far more valuable in the long run.

While the temptation to using purchased email lists may seem alluring, the pitfalls associated with this practice outweigh any perceived benefits. Authenticity and respect for your audience’s consent should be at the forefront of your email marketing strategy.

Instead of taking shortcuts, invest time and effort in building an organic email list by offering valuable content found in email marketing campaigns that users will want to read, incentives for new customers and loyal customers, and clear opt-in options. By doing so, you will cultivate a loyal subscriber base that willingly engages with your brand and significantly improves your email marketing results. Remember, the key to success lies in genuine connections, not in purchased contacts.

If you are ready to transform your email marketing strategy and create authentic relationships with your consented audience, then let’s get started!