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Best Practices

Cleaning House: How to Build Permission Based Email Lists

Never Buy Mailing Lists
Building an opt-in email list can be hard work. It can get so frustrating that some marketers opt to take the easy route of purchasing a list to give themselves a good running start. This is a temptation that must be avoided at all costs. Buying a mailing list may seem like a wise move, but if you are an online marketer of any sort, it is actually one of the worst decisions you could ever make, one that ends in a waste of money, time, and effort.

Remember, "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This adage perfectly sums up the tempting email list you may have been eyeing. The vendors selling these lists only make matters worse. They promote them as valued investments, claiming to have a vast database of names stocked with consumers who are interested in your offerings. At first glance, it all looks delicious. Your very own target audience just waiting for you to reach out and send them what they want. Sadly, these lists can be described as nothing more than fool's gold.

If you have been considering buying a mailing list, here is word of advice – don't. It is a bad move for many reasons, including the following:

Inaccuracy - One of the biggest problems associated with buying a mailing list is its hit or miss aspect. In most cases, all you get is a name and email address, which certainly is not enough information to accurately target prospects. Instead of wasting time on the maybes, you could be focusing your energy on an audience that is actually interested in what you have to say.
Blacklisted - Nevermind what the money-hungry vendor tells you – where does that big bad list really come from? Chances are, the vendor obtained it from a collection of websites and shady practitioners who sell email addresses on the black market. And even if consumers did give a specific company the permission to contact them, the fact of the matter is that they did not explicitly give that permission to YOU. This means you can usually expect poor results at best, and a myriad of spam complaints at worst.
Shutdown - Buying a mailing list can bring your email marketing endeavors to an abrupt halt. Most ESPs have policies in place that must be adhered to in order to continue to use their services. These regulations are designed to ensure that no spam is being delivered through their system. By purchasing a list, you run the high risk of violating email marketing best practices and having the account with your trusted ESP permanently shut down.
Now that we have established that taking such short cuts is very likely to result in major problems, this leaves you with no other choice but to naturally build your permission based email list. Collect contact information from members of your target audience and try to build relationships with consumers who are more likely to give you some action. Use your website, social havens, events, and exiting sales channels to grow your audience and open up more marketing opportunities. Building your list in this fashion requires more time and effort, but also delivers better results and helps keep problems to a minimum.