No. Buying an email list is never a good idea.
Want more? Following is a more in-depth explanation of why buying (or renting) an email list is never a good idea.
Why you shouldn’t buy an email marketing list
Once you’ve written the first issue of your email newsletter, you need only two more things to get started: email addresses, and permission to use them.
So why, then, isn’t a purchased email list a good idea?
It certainly fills the first qualification. An email list is full of, well, email addresses.
The tricky part is permission.
Let’s imagine the absolute perfect scenario for a purchased email list: The people on the list you bought have opted in to be recontacted and even said they were interested in the topic area you cover? Perfect, right?
Nope. Still a bad idea. Because for your email list to have any value to you, the people on that list need to have given you their permission directly. You’re entering into a trusted relationship: they say it’s okay to contact them, with the understanding that you’ll be sending something interesting, relevant or valuable. Or, ideally, all three.
You will never get that from a paid list. Don’t waste your time by trying to jump the line. Put in the hard work of building your list. Seed it with friends and coworkers and people in your professional network. But always ASK FIRST. Don’t even subscribe a family member without their explicit permission. It’ll take a while, but it will be a solid start to a growing — and real – email list.
And now for some questions:
How do I buy an email list?
Don’t. Just don’t. See above for why, but know that you’re not just wasting your money on the list, you’ll waste your time speaking to people who have no interest in what you’re saying.
How much should you pay for an email list?
Nothing. Because it’s always a bad idea to buy an email list. Full stop.
But there is definitely a cost to building a list on your own. A great list will cost you 20-40 hours of your time to seed, and, then, years to grow on its own. Don’t spam your contacts with a form email; take the time to craft on-point pitches to your friends and network and contact them one or two at a time.
How do you increase newsletter subscribers, then?
Good question. There are lots of ways to grow subscribers. Some are easy, some take work. But all will net you legitimate subscribers that are much more likely to be happy to see your message in their inbox.
Update your email newsletter landing page. It’s not enough to be just a sign-up page, if someone has taken the effort to click through, you need to tell them a brief compelling story of why they should join. What will they get? How frequently? What will this information do for them?
Put a sign-up form in your sidebar. Consider who your audience is and what they want and need. Now, pitch that in a few words, with a single field for an email address and a “subscribe” button.
Put that same sign up at the end of your articles. If a reader has gotten this far, there’s a better-than-average chance that she might want to see more.
Try some more intrusive methods. But go easy. These are slide-downs, pops-ups and the like. Most people dislike them, but they are proven to work. Make sure you limit their appearance to once per session and track your subscribes closely. If you see a surge in subscriptions of more than 10% and no discernible negative effect on your sessions and page views, keep it going. Otherwise, kill it as soon as you see a problem.
Promote your newsletter on social, both organic and paid. Paid social, including Facebook primarily, is still a great place to target your outreach and pick up interested subscribers for relatively little money.
Ask your existing subscribers to forward the newsletter to friends. Many email services, such as Mailchimp, have this functionality built in.
Remind me again why it’s a bad idea to buy lists
Don’t believe me? Here are some industry leaders on why buying email lists is a bad, bad idea:
8 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List
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