Email Marketing

Why Is Buying An Email List A Bad Idea?

Here's why you should never buy an email list


Anam Jalil


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So you just started a business or you have an existing one but you need leads to email to promote your product or service. You want to use email marketing for conversions because according to Constant Contact and many other sources, every $1 spent on email marketing has the potential to yield $36 in return. That’s lucrative. 

Even if you are focusing more on brand awareness rather than conversions at the initial stage, you need to start somewhere and with someone. Many businesses are in the same boat.

 In order to mitigate this situation, many businesses purchase email lists. They figure this is the easiest and quickest way to get in touch with prospects. 


Buying email lists is not a good idea. Mailchimp mentions that purchasing a mailing list gives you no guarantee of any revenue or reply in return - everyone on your list may end up reporting you as spam and there is nothing you can do about it. 

Here are a few other reasons why you should not buy an email list: 

  • The list contains emails of people who have never expressed interest in your business and may never be interested 

  • Many of the email addresses may not even be in use 

  • The list is sometimes random or based on certain demographics, but other factors may be more important in determining your target audience

So, what should you do besides purchasing an email list? 

You should build your own email list for marketing - it may take some time and effort but emailing a list of people that have opted-in to receiving your emails will prove to be much more fruitful. 

Let’s talk about a few methods for email list building. 

Gated content

Some websites offer excellent content in the form of webinars, guides, or news stories - but the catch is that to access the content, readers need to provide their email address or subscribe to the company’s newsletter. 

This way, the company gets the reader’s email address and consent to send them emails and the reader gets access to the content. Moreover, this method ensures that your mailing list consists of people who have expressed some interest in your products/services. 

HubSpot mentions that “89% of B2B content marketing assets are gated”. Please note though that we aren’t talking about gated content that requires payment for access. To create an email list you need to exchange content for the reader’s information - not payment, as this is a lead generation activity not a revenue generation activity. 

You can also partially gate your content to entice the reader even more. For example, you may let them read one page of a very interesting guide or blog post and ask them for their information if they want to go any further! 

Sign-up forms

If you have a website, it is imperative to give prospects the chance to sign up for mailing lists should they need more information and invite them to engage with you through emails. Many businesses do this with embedded sign-up forms that they place below the fold on their website, in the footer, or sometimes even in the header. 

These forms capture leads and can then engage with them via email or a monthly/weekly newsletter. The best thing about sign-up forms is that they are very non-intrusive. Unlike gated content or pop-ups, sign-up forms do not coax a visitor to sign up or provide their information.

They simply provide an option to visitors to opt to receive messages from the company. This is like creating a free email list from your website traffic. 

Welcome and exit pop-ups

Pop-ups should be used sparingly, because let’s face it - they are annoying. However, they can prove to be highly useful in getting a prospect’s attention. One type of pop-up is the welcome pop-up which displays within 15 seconds of a visitor landing on a website. 

The welcome pop-up needs to be simple, properly timed, and have excellent copy in order to convert. It is ideal to simply include one field for the insertion of an email address and that’s it (you can also ask for first name, if that’s important). The pop-up may be asking you to subscribe to the newsletter, providing a great welcome offer like 20% off their first order etc, or offering future discounts in exchange for an email address. 

You need to figure out when this pop-up should appear based on the amount of time prospects spend on that particular page on your website. For example, pages that visitors stay on for a minute or less should have the pop-up appear immediately while pages that are explored more extensively can wait 15 seconds or so before the pop-up appears

Exit pop-ups appear when a prospect is about to leave a website and are highly effective in making lost visitors stay (if crafted properly). The exit pop-up can provide more information, highlight USPs, provide an offer, and more in exchange for an email address. 


There may be banners at the top or in other places on the website that offer discounts or make announcements about upcoming collections/offers etc. These banners can have a field to enter an email address if the prospect wants to avail these offers or be informed of launches, etc. 

This is another non-intrusive way to get an email address and is also enticing, leading to a high conversion rate. For example, a product may be out of stock and you may ask your visitor to enter their email address in order to be informed when it comes back into stock. 

Social media

You can also get email lists from Facebook ads and by adding opt-in buttons on your social media profiles. Whether you want emails of businesses or direct consumers, you can easily attract them through different social media activities which include but are not limited to: 

  • Contests, quizzes, games

  • Lead forms attached to ads

You can also get emails through your contact form on social media to email people that require more information or have a query about your business and what it provides. 

There are other ways you can create email lists for marketing that we can cover in depth in a future blog post! Don’t forget to implement these tips and then warm-up your domain with GoCustomer to start working on sending email messages to your prospects!

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Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Buying an email list is not a good idea for businesses because it can result in low-quality leads, damage to the brand's reputation, and potential legal consequences for violating anti-spam laws.
    Gated content refers to content that is only accessible to users who provide their email address or other contact information, and it can be useful for email list building by providing a valuable incentive for users to subscribe to a mailing list.
    Sign-up forms can help businesses build an email list by providing a clear and easy way for users to subscribe to a mailing list, typically located on a website or landing page.
    Welcome and exit pop-ups are types of forms that appear on a website when a user first arrives (welcome) or is about to leave (exit) the site. They can help businesses get email addresses by offering an incentive in exchange for the user's email, such as a discount or free resource.
    Social media can be used to get email lists for businesses by creating lead magnets (such as a free e-book or webinar) that require users to enter their email address to access. Businesses can also promote their email newsletter on social media to encourage sign-ups.
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