The truth about purchased lists

Purchased lists: as email marketers, we all know we shouldn’t use them. But when you’re under pressure to get results, it can sometimes seem like a quick solution. You might have heard that a competitor got incredible results from buying X list, or perhaps your boss has used them before and wants to see a beefed-up database to maximise holiday revenue.

The truth is this: it makes no logical sense for marketers to take an interest in purchased lists. Aside from the legal implications on the horizon, there can be no benefit to stunting your highest performing channel with data that doesn’t convert.

Not convinced? Here’s 6 reasons to avoid bought data now and forever:

Bought data is cold

Recipients who’ve chosen to receive your marketing emails have shown an active and recent interest in your brand; they’re warm and ready for your team to work on them. Bought data’s a different story. The prospects are unengaged, and there’s often no way of telling how old it is; it’s cold data. Unengaged contacts take longer to warm and even longer to convert, putting greater pressure on your team while incurring greater cost to your business. There’s very little chance of achieving the ROI that you’re after.

Bought data is a drain on your resources

The costs associated with cold, bought data are manifold. Get charged per contact by your ESP? That’s money down the drain for every unengaged contact you’ve acquired. And the more cluttered your list gets, the less efficient you’ll find your strategy becomes. On a pay-per-email contract? The same applies. Every cold email address is a detriment to your ROI.

Purchasing lists cripples your email marketing

So you’ve invested your hard-earned budget into a top email marketing platform, you’ve taken the time to train up your team, and your emails are looking better than ever. You’re ready to hit send on a huge campaign and watch the returns rack up. But you bought your email list for this campaign and – unknown to you or the seller – some of those emails are spam traps.

A spam trap is a fraud management tool used by the big ISPs to catch out malicious senders and marketers with poor data hygiene and acquisition practices. Bought data lists are peppered with traps. How do they get there? Check out this comprehensive guide from Laura Atkins for Word to the Wise.

The spam trap has no way of telling whether you’re a bad guy or an unsuspecting marketer, so you’ll be treated the same way as a spammer. Your sender reputation will start to deteriorate with every send and some of your best customers’ mail servers will block your emails from reaching them, causing those relationships to depreciate. You’re single-handedly shooting your ROI in the metaphorical foot

Bought data skews your reporting

If your contact list is riddled with cold or false data, it’s impossible to get an accurate measure of your email marketing’s performance; every campaign report you collect will be distorted by the non-opens, bounces and poor engagement rates associated with these addresses. This means that one of the most important features you’ve gained access to by investing in an ESP won’t work properly.

Purchased lists are a legal minefield

There’s no two ways about this point. Sending to bought data means you’re contacting people who haven’t opted in to receive your messages. In many jurisdictions, this is illegal practice – not to mention a poor introduction to your brand. And no one wants to be on the wrong side of the law when the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018. Check out this blog post from dotmailer’s Chief Privacy Officer, James Koons, for a deeper dive into the legal implications of using purchased lists.

You could impair your marketing stack

The majority of ESPs are unable to provide a service to businesses that use purchased lists, in order to protect their customers – and themselves – from poor deliverability scores. A marketing team looking to graduate to a more empowering and scalable automation solution will struggle to get the best fit for their business, purely because top providers are unable to accommodate their bought data. And at the other end of the scale, an ESP without a robust anti-spam policy isn’t a clever investment of your time or resource.

At dotmailer, our Terms & Conditions prohibit the use of purchased lists, because we know that’s how you’ll get the best out of your strategy. And because we’re only interested in empowering marketers (and not punishing them), we work hard to ensure that you always have access to the most cutting-edge list growth and nurture tactics, along with the latest in sending best practice. Check out this whitepaper on list acquisition, or download our comprehensive guide to Deliverability.

The post The truth about purchased lists appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

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Why purchased lists are a big no-no

It is not the fact of it being right or wrong which surprises me; it is the fact that some marketers still take the gamble on using them. I know at one point it was a widely accepted practice in the marketing world, but with today’s much stricter regulatory landscape and advanced classification and detection technology, one would think the gamble is not worth it.

To this day, there is still much debate on the use of purchased lists. Most reputable Email Service Providers do not allow their use and will terminate a sender if they detect them. At dotmailer, our Terms & Conditions strictly prohibit their use. While this may seem harsh, there are many good reasons NOT to be using purchased lists in the first place:

Addresses on a purchased list are likely to be poor quality. The main point to remember is, the recipients on such a list have never opted in for your specific emails. Additionally, many purchased lists contain older email addresses. Because of these two factors, you are very likely to see higher complaint rates and higher bounce rates. Typically, a bounce rate below 2% is optimal, and if it goes over 5%, there is a problem. If there are some active email accounts on this type of list they will be more likely to delete the email (without reading it), since they never asked to receive it. However, these active recipients are more prone to mark the email as spam, which will definitely hurt your sender reputation and ultimately your brand reputation.

Another good reason not to use purchased lists? Spamtraps! Often, list brokers will create fake email addresses in order to increase the size of their lists and to create a more “attractive” product. They will make up domain names and use random words as email addresses. Several groups within the anti-abuse community will discover these domains, purchase them and turn them into spam traps.  If you hit a spam trap used by a receiver like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! or an anti-abuse organization like Spamhaus, you will find yourself quickly blacklisted or blocked from sending.

The last point I will make about purchased lists is the obvious legal and ethical implications that come with their use. It is always important to remember that when you send an email campaign, you are sending to a real person. If people did not ask to hear from you and suddenly receive an unexpected email in their inbox, they tend to complain. In many jurisdictions, this would be considered illegal. You have forced your way into someone’s inbox, and that is not a great way to start a business relationship in the first place.

Keep in mind that the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect on 25 May 2018. While consent remains a lawful basis to transfer personal data under the GDPR, the definition of consent is significantly restricted. Directive 95/46/EC allowed controllers to rely on implicit and “opt-out” consent in some circumstances, but the GDPR requires the data subject to signal agreement by “a statement or a clear affirmative action.” Not to mention, almost all other anti-spam, privacy and data protection legislation prohibits contacting someone who has not given you the proper consent.

There are many ways to increase your subscriber base without hurting your reputation or brand.  The most obvious way is to use sign-up forms on your website. Contests, giveaways and other promotions are great for incentivizing these sign-ups. You can use social media to drive traffic to your promotions and entice even more organic sign-ups. Pop-ups, sliders, feature boxes and surveys are other great methods for healthy list growth.

Buying a list may seem like a quick fix, but in the long run it will cost you in terms of lost revenue and damage to your sender reputation. It can even get you in to legal hot water. Take the time to organically grow your lists and ensure all of your recipients are opted in. We recommend double opt-in or confirmed opt-in as a best practice. Email marketing relationships are a valuable marketing asset. In fact, 91 percent of consumers want to receive emails from the organizations they do business with.  Building these relationships starts with making sure you have permission before adding someone to your email list.

For more reading on this subject, check out this article by Word to the Wise. Laura Atkins, email marketing legend and well-respected industry expert, points out the fact that even if you hear someone say their ESP is allowing them to use purchased lists, they probably just haven’t been caught yet.

The post Why purchased lists are a big no-no appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from