An email database consists of a list of current or prospective customers and can be segmented in various ways depending on your business goals, products, services, or target market. Traditionally, email lists are built by asking individuals to subscribe to a newsletter via website call-to-actions, popups, surveys, email signatures, etc.

These days, instead of increasing email lists through traditional methods, many marketing professionals are starting to purchase these databases. Buying an email list sounds like a quick way to get some business, but it is a huge waste of money. From a high rate of unread emails to a damaged brand reputation, there are many reasons why it is not a good idea.

Let us take a look at the top 5 reasons why you should not buy an email list:

1. Poor quality database: It may sound fantastic to obtain a database of 10 000 names overnight, but it is going to be worthless if the database that you purchased may not have the information of ideal and suitable prospects for your business. The problems you may have to face with such databases are:

  • Missing or incomplete data (having the incorrect names for individuals on the list).
  • Out of date information (loads of email addresses that no longer exist or are abandoned).
  • Email addresses illegally collected from the internet (people who have not chosen to be added on any list).

2. Come across as a spammer

Do you enjoy receiving unsolicited emails? Chances are you will probably delete that email without reading it. And, if you receive many from the same company, you will unsubscribe or even mark them as spam.

Your emails may be well written and packed with high-quality information, but from the recipient’s perspective, you are just another unknown company barging into their inbox. When spamming, you damage your brand’s image and reputation. If you violate the terms and service of your email provider, they can and will ban your account and prevent you from sending out future emails.

3. Poor engagement rate

You may find that majority of the people on the list will not even open your email, let alone click through to your landing pages. If the email addresses are incorrect, your bounce rate will be high. Even if a few people open your email, and they are not interested in your offer, you will not make a sale. 

4. Other companies will be sending to the same people

Other businesses are probably purchasing the exact list that you bought. And what happens when they send an email just before you? Things like this make people annoyed, and when they are annoyed it is not a good thing, and they might even end up marking you as spam or putting a filter in place so that they will never receive another email from you again.

5. Legal issues with purchased lists

Under the new law, businesses are required to provide an opt-in option for all contacts who provide their email addresses and other personal data. If the contacts do not opt-in, then you are not allowed to email to them. Emailing without consent is also a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. If you are caught violating the rules here, you could face a fine.


“A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.”

– Ramsay Leimenstoll

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