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Third-party email lists – beware of the pitfalls

DigitalEleanor Yeo

 

Being able to communicate directly with your customers is vital to any business. One of the ways that's become more and more popular with businesses, when keeping in touch with their customers, is email communication.

Whether it is through a monthly newsletter, or just a quick email to remind them that you are there, email marketing campaigns can be very successful in getting people to return to your company again and again.

But building up your email contact list takes time and tactics. Getting people to give you their information is getting increasingly harder, as people are more reluctant to give out information which they fear may result in a deluge of emails or letters.

For this reason, some businesses resort to buying lists from websites and other companies. The theory is that because these people have already signed and given consent for their information to be used by one company and third parties, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t given it to you directly. But things are not always what they seem... such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

We recently came across an example of where a business had purchased a list of thousands of new email addresses to send their newsletter to – meaning they had more than doubled their contact database overnight. The company that they bought the list from, assured them that the respondents had genuinely signed up to receive emails from companies such as theirs, so they thought that they had nothing to lose. Sounds simple enough.

However, what they hadn’t realised is that buying email lists can have a negative effect on your business particularly if recipients have never heard of you. On this basis, such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

Email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp, are very strict when it comes to the people who use their service. If you send out a ‘spam’ email, then they can impose harsher restrictions on adding new and genuine subscribers, shut down your account or even fine you. Even if you may not have intentionally sent out a ‘spam’ email, if too many of the recipients label it as such, then providers will act against you.

Buying third-party lists can also create a negative perception of your business among the people purchased. If people see your brand associated with ‘spam’ emails, which they did not sign up to receive, then negativity will grow and potentially spread.

So, what do we recommend to increase your email contact database?

Grow your list yourself and do it organically. Increasing awareness of its existence and possibly spending money on incentivising people to sign up is far better than spending money to buy the contact details of people who are not warm to your organisation.