Purchased Email Lists

What are email lists?

Email lists refer to collections of email addresses compiled for the purpose of sending marketing messages, updates, or other types of communications to a targeted group of individuals. These lists are essential for email marketing campaigns and allow businesses to reach their audience directly via email.

An email list typically includes email addresses of subscribers who have explicitly opted in to receive communications from a particular company, organization, or individual. In the context of email marketing, the subscribers on the list are often referred to as “email subscribers” or “email contacts.”

Email lists can vary in size and content depending on the organization’s goals and the type of email communications they plan to send. The process of building and maintaining an email list is a crucial aspect of email marketing as it directly affects the success of email campaigns.

Email lists can be categorized into different segments based on various criteria, such as demographics, behavior, interests, or the stage of the customer journey. Segmenting email lists allows businesses to send more targeted and relevant emails to specific groups, enhancing the overall effectiveness of their email marketing efforts.

It’s essential to manage email lists responsibly and adhere to relevant data protection regulations, ensuring that subscribers have given explicit consent to receive emails. Email marketing practices should comply with anti-spam laws, such as the CAN-SPAM Act (in the United States) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (in the European Union), to maintain a positive sender reputation and build trust with subscribers.

What is the difference between buying and creating email lists?

The difference between buying and creating email lists lies in how the email addresses are obtained and the level of engagement and consent from the recipients. Let’s explore the distinctions between these two approaches:

Buying Email Lists:

  1. Source of Email Addresses: Buying email lists involves purchasing a ready-made list of email addresses from a third-party provider. These lists are often compiled from various sources, including publicly available data, website scraping, or data aggregation without the explicit consent of the individuals on the list.
  2. Consent and Engagement: In most cases, the individuals on a purchased email list have not given explicit consent to receive emails from the specific company or organization making the purchase. As a result, the recipients may consider these emails as unsolicited and spammy, leading to low engagement rates, a negative brand image, and a higher risk of being marked as spam.
  3. Effectiveness and Relevance: Bought email lists are often less effective in terms of conversions and engagement since the recipients may not have a genuine interest in the sender’s offerings or content. The lack of relevance can result in high unsubscribe rates and damage the sender’s reputation.
  4. Compliance and Legal Risks: Using purchased email lists can lead to legal issues and violation of anti-spam laws, such as the CAN-SPAM Act or GDPR. Many countries have strict regulations regarding email marketing, and sending unsolicited emails without proper consent can result in penalties and legal consequences.

Creating Email Lists:

  1. Source of Email Addresses: Creating email lists involves obtaining email addresses through voluntary and explicit consent from individuals who willingly sign up to receive communications from a specific company or organization. This consent is usually obtained through opt-in forms on websites, landing pages, or during the checkout process.
  2. Consent and Engagement: Since recipients have willingly subscribed to receive emails, they are more likely to engage with the content and find it relevant. This leads to higher open rates, click-through rates, and overall engagement, building a more positive brand image.
  3. Effectiveness and Relevance: Created email lists are more effective as they target an audience genuinely interested in the sender’s products, services, or content. The messages are more relevant and personalized, leading to better response rates and conversions.
  4. Compliance and Legal Compliance: Creating email lists through proper opt-in methods ensures compliance with data protection and anti-spam regulations. Businesses must provide clear information about the types of emails subscribers will receive and obtain affirmative consent before sending marketing communications.

While buying email lists may seem like a quick way to reach a large audience, it comes with significant risks and is generally not recommended. Creating email lists through organic, permission-based methods ensures a more engaged audience, better deliverability, and compliance with legal requirements, leading to a more successful and sustainable email marketing strategy.

Pros to Buying an Email List

While buying an email list may seem like a convenient way to quickly expand your reach, it’s important to note that purchasing email lists is generally not recommended due to several significant drawbacks and potential negative consequences. However, for the sake of providing a balanced perspective, here are some potential perceived pros to buying an email list:

  1. Immediate Access to a Large Audience: Buying an email list can provide you with a large number of email addresses quickly, potentially saving time and effort in the initial stages of building an audience.
  2. Wider Reach: Purchasing an email list from a third-party provider may allow you to target specific demographics or industries that align with your business objectives.
  3. Potential for Lead Generation: Some sellers of email lists claim that the contacts included are potential leads interested in specific products or services, which could theoretically lead to increased conversions.

However, it’s important to emphasize that the perceived benefits of buying an email list are outweighed by significant drawbacks, and it’s generally considered an ineffective and risky strategy for email marketing. The cons of buying email lists include:

  1. Low Quality and Irrelevance: Purchased email lists often contain outdated, invalid, or uninterested email addresses, resulting in low engagement rates and a negative impact on your sender reputation.
  2. High Risk of Being Marked as Spam: Sending emails to recipients who have not explicitly opted in can lead to a high rate of spam complaints, causing ISPs to flag your emails as spam and hurting your deliverability rates.
  3. Legal and Compliance Issues: Buying email lists can lead to legal consequences, as it may violate data protection and anti-spam laws, such as the CAN-SPAM Act or GDPR, which require explicit consent for email marketing.
  4. Negative Brand Image: Unsolicited emails from unknown senders can be perceived as spammy and harm your brand’s reputation, making it harder to build trust with potential customers.
  5. Potential Blacklisting: If your emails generate a high number of spam complaints, your domain and IP address could be blacklisted by email service providers, making it difficult to deliver future emails.
  6. Ineffective Marketing Results: The lack of engagement and relevance with purchased lists often leads to low conversion rates and a poor return on investment (ROI) for your marketing efforts.

For these reasons, it’s best to focus on creating organic email lists through permission-based opt-in methods. Building a quality email list of subscribers who have willingly expressed interest in your brand ensures better engagement, higher deliverability, and a positive brand experience, leading to more effective email marketing results in the long run.

Cons to Buying an Email List

Buying an email list can be tempting as it offers the promise of reaching a larger audience quickly. However, the drawbacks and negative consequences of purchasing email lists far outweigh any potential benefits. Here are the major cons to buying an email list:

  1. Low Quality Contacts: Purchased email lists often contain outdated, inaccurate, or irrelevant email addresses. Many of the contacts may be inactive or no longer interested in the products or services you offer, resulting in low engagement rates and a waste of resources.
  2. High Risk of Spam Complaints: Sending unsolicited emails to recipients who have not given explicit consent can lead to a high number of spam complaints. Spam complaints damage your sender reputation and may cause your emails to be blocked or filtered by email service providers.
  3. Legal and Compliance Issues: Buying email lists may violate data protection and anti-spam laws, such as the CAN-SPAM Act (in the United States) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (in the European Union). These laws require explicit consent from recipients before sending marketing emails, and non-compliance can result in significant fines and legal consequences.
  4. Negative Brand Image: Sending unsolicited emails can harm your brand’s reputation and trustworthiness. Recipients may perceive your emails as spammy or invasive, leading to a negative perception of your brand.
  5. Poor Engagement and Conversion Rates: Because the recipients on purchased lists have not expressed interest in your brand, they are less likely to engage with your emails or convert into customers. This results in low click-through rates and poor return on investment (ROI) for your marketing efforts.
  6. Blocked Deliverability: Many email service providers have strict policies against sending to purchased lists. If you attempt to send emails to a purchased list, your emails may be blocked, and you may face restrictions or account suspension from your email service provider.
  7. Wasted Resources: Buying an email list can be expensive, and the investment often yields poor results. The money spent on purchasing the list could be better invested in growing an organic and engaged email list through permission-based opt-in methods.
  8. Limited Personalization Opportunities: Personalization is crucial for effective email marketing. With purchased lists, you have limited information about the recipients, making it difficult to create personalized and relevant email content.

Buying an email list is a high-risk strategy that can harm your brand, damage your sender reputation, and lead to legal and compliance issues. Instead, focus on building an organic email list through ethical and permission-based methods, which will result in a more engaged audience, higher deliverability rates, and better overall marketing performance.

Why it’s generally not recommended

Purchasing email lists is generally not recommended for several reasons:

  1. Low Quality Leads: The email addresses on a purchased list may not be from people who are interested in your product or service, which can lead to low engagement rates and high unsubscribe rates.
  2. Risk of Spam Complaints: People who receive emails from a purchased list are more likely to mark them as spam, which can damage your sender reputation and affect your ability to reach the inboxes of your legitimate subscribers.
  3. Legal Issues: Many countries have laws governing email marketing, and purchasing email lists can put you at risk of violating these laws. In some cases, you may face fines or legal action for sending unsolicited emails.
  4. Ethical Concerns: Purchasing email lists can be seen as unethical, as you are essentially spamming people who have not given you permission to contact them.

Building your own email list through opt-in forms, lead magnets, and other legitimate methods is a more effective and ethical way to reach interested and engaged subscribers.


  • Shivani Adhikari

    I am Shivani Adhikari author of the website Mailersadda, where I write about a variety of topics including digital marketing, SEO, SMO, email marketing, conversion optimization, content marketing, website design and more. When I'm not working on the website, I enjoy exploring outdoors, travelling and painting. I Hope you find my website helpful and informative. Thank you for visiting Mailersadda.