4 Epic Pitfalls to Buying An Email List

dave coghlan experianThis post comes to you courtesy of Dave Coghlan, who’s currently working with Experian on list expansion and email marketing, among other things!

You can also read his last week’s post on how accountants can build a marketing list.


We started to talk about this in my previous post – how you can build your list, your database. Although buying an email list seems like the easy, simple option – and it is – the problem is that it has the highest potential to fail if not executed well. Buying email lists is still an option. You can reach a potentially huge volume of prospects and by sheer luck if you bomb out an e-mail to 10,000 people you might get a few sales. But there are some epic pitfalls which I’ll try and cover off so you don’t get too badly burnt.

Epic List-Buying Pitfall 1: You are sending spam.

Know this fact, you have not asked permission to speak to these people, your message is spam. So why should they take time out of their day to talk to you? Because you’ve done your research, you know what makes these people tick and your content is useful and engaging. Right? You need to accept that you will get negative responses and possibly some angry people, but you need to factor this into your plan, consider it in your messages and mitigate against any feedback by aligning your team, systems and processes.

Epic List-Buying Pitfall 2: You’ve bought more than you can manage.

I made this point earlier regarding strategic partners but it’s even more true here, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sending an e-mail to 10,000 people when only you and the receptionist are in the office is only going to end badly. Even if 0.5% respond that’s 50 e-mails or phone calls you have to deal with and they might not all want to have a pleasant chat.

Epic List-Buying Pitfall 3: You burn through your list with one email blast

A person’s e-mail address or phone number is massively valuable. Don’t waste your opportunity to use it. Even with the best market analysis in the world, you have to remember that these are real people and your carefully crafted message simply won’t resonate with everyone, so test it. Send out an e-mail to a 100 people to start. Wait, see what happens. Then send to 200, wait see what happens. Much better to test, refine and measure on small numbers so you can extract the maximum value possible from your list and feedback any learning’s into your future communications. This is also an awesome way to minimise any negative sentiment or feedback to a small number if you send something out and get it catastrophically wrong.

Epic List-Buying Pitfall 4: You incur a £500,000 fine

Buy good data or your business could end up with a whopping £500,000 fine. If you contact somebody who is registered with the MPS, (Mail preference service) the TPS (Telephone preference service) or the CTPS (Corporate Telephone preference service) then this could be you. Buy your data from a trusted data supplier that de-dupes data against the MPS and TPS at least once a month. Experian’s National Business database is de-duped every month and they have a good product B2B Prospector which allows you to build your list based on the market and audience segmentation we talked about earlier so no excuses! Buying an email list may first seem like the best idea ever, and secondly (now that you’ve read this post) the worst idea ever. Like most things in marketing, it’s neither. It’s just how you use it.