ADVICE: Thinking of Buying an Online Audience? Think Again

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Inbound marketing agencies like ours have heard from plenty of clients facing a common dilemma: “I need to get the word out about our product or event, but I don’t have enough contacts to justify an email marketing campaign.” Often they say they have been offered a “highly targeted” list of contacts in a specific market or vertical for the seemingly low price of 50 cents to $3 a contact, and this will create for them a fresh and relevant audience. Right? Wrong. So wrong.

Unless you’re planning on emailing an entire purchased list from your personal email client (which we don’t recommend), you’re going to be hard pressed to find an email marketing tool or marketing automation platform (MAP) that tolerates the use of purchased lists. The less-expensive email marketing tools such as Constant Contact and Mail Chimp have been known to force entire email lists into the “do not mail” category if an email campaign gets a suspicious amount of spam complaints or even if the size of the list triggers a red flag.

Purchased Email Lists Can Endanger Large Investments

If your company has made the significant investment in a Hubspot or Marketo MAP, emailing a purchased list is a downright risky behavior. Not only do marketing automation tools insist you acknowledge their policies on purchased lists, some will cancel your instance after as few as three spam complaints, no questions asked. Consider the platform investment plus the purchase list expense flushed.

In addition to spam complaints, purchased lists tend to have significantly higher bounce rates than contacts pulled out of your company’s CRM. While some list vendors do offer compensation in the form of new contact records for unusually high-bouncing lists, keep in mind that many of these companies consider bounce rates as high as 20 percent to be “acceptable,” which means no new contacts for you. The bottom line is simply that purchased lists are not well maintained, generally out of date, and in most cases a waste of money.

Subscribers Still Make the Best Contacts

The best practice for compiling an email list is to use subscriber forms on your website or blog that allow people to opt in to receiving email communications from your business.  This process of collecting contact information can be a slow and uneventful one, but it is the absolute safest way to get the job done, and in our opinion – it’s the only way.

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About the author

AmandaJane Roberts
AmandaJane, CRO manager, is responsible for marketing automation, conversion rate optimization, and lead generation strategies at Idea Grove. In addition to overseeing the agency’s Conversion Optimization Team, AmandaJane develops behavioral email marketing campaigns, lead nurture drip campaigns, and targeted landing pages. Her management of pay-per-click advertising for content, calls to action, forms, and lead capture mechanisms helps drive online conversions for Idea Grove clients.

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One thought on “ADVICE: Thinking of Buying an Online Audience? Think Again

  1. Nancy @ Release Liners

    Sending emails to people unsolicited can not only hurt your email service but your website overall on search engines. The more people that block that email, the more search engines notice and eventually will black list the domain itself the messages are coming from. If people don’t ask for an email from you, it is a risk to send them anything.

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