Should You Buy an Email List?

Should you buy an email list and the answer to that is a resounding no across the board. Especially not B2C (business to consumer), no to B2B (business to business), and no to B2G (business to government).  And here’s why.

Business to Consumer

First of all B2C. You shouldn’t be doing any kind of cold outreach for b2c. You’re going to be trying to reach out to Gmail accounts and Yahoo accounts and MSN accounts and local ISP email accounts.  That’s going to get you sent to the spam folder super fast. You’re gonna get blacklisted and you’re going to just completely kill your domain if you try to cold email to personal email accounts. So don’t buy a list to jumpstart your Ecommerce store or anything like that.

Business to Business

Have you ever received this sort of deal in your inbox:

Get 10,000 contacts for $50!

If you buy one of those lists and you actually start, you know, emailing them you’re going to find generally about three things happening.

The majority of the accounts are dead.

Dead email accounts as in they were active at one point, but the email address got out into the world and it’s so inundated with spam the user gave up trying to keep up with it and abandoned it. One day they decided “you know what, I need a new email address. This is is getting ridiculous.”

You’re also going to have fake email accounts that were created just based off like the naming conventions of the business.

Generally speaking, a business will follow some sort of standard when creating email accounts for users. They could be something like

  • first_name.last_name@business.com
  • first_initial.last_name@business.com
  • first_name@business.com
  • or the many different combinations they come up with

So what people can do is find the name convention of a given business’s email, know that Jane Doe works there, and can essentially guess what Jane’s email would be.

You could end up with a honeypot email address.

A honeypot email address is one created with the intent to catch spammers. The service provider knows that any email being sent to the honeypot is spam and will easily blacklist that domain for their either email accounts and users. Either you won’t be able to reach those accounts and users, or your emails will go to their junk box/spam box (which may as well just not be able to reach users). Bad for the overall health of your list.

So those are the big three reasons why you shouldn’t buy a B2B list.

It’s just not worth it over all the and even if you know the email addresses are real, you don’t know what they do, what they want, what they’re looking for, or anything else about the person on the receiving end of your message.

You don’t know what industry they’re in so you can’t tailor the message to what you know would work for their business. Say you were doing SEO work. Doing SEO work for a local business like Joe’s Chiropractic is a whole different animal compared to doing SEO work for an international brand or an ecommerce store where they’re shipping nationwide.

Now, here’s what you can do. If you’re in a B2B space and you want to kind of jumpstart that the traffic, get the word out and those initial offers you can still get by doing cold email.

You can either sign up for a service to buy on an individual basis or hire someone inexpensively to do prospecting for you. It’s easy and less expensive to find somoene in a country with a low cost of living. like Pakistan or the Philippines. All you have to say is I want a list of chiropractors in San Diego. They will find those people and create that list for you extremely inexpensively, sometimes as low as 25 cents per contact.

A thousand contacts for $250. All you do is close one and you’ll have made money. You can either keep contacting the same people or get more contacts or work with that new client.

So buying a list outright? That’s a terrible idea.

You got to think about how many people also have access to that same deal. How many people have bought that list already, hammered them with messages saying “hey, I want your attention” and won’t stop?

Get refined.

Figure out who you’re talking to.

That will make your cold outreach infinitely more effective.