Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.
Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.
Updated on July 12, 2023
Buying Email Lists: Pros, Cons, and Best Services
What’s an Email List?
Pros of Buying Email Lists
Cons of Buying Email Lists
For small businesses starting out without much of a marketing budget, email is a fast, efficient, low-cost way to connect directly to prospective customers. Eight out of 10 B2B buyers prefer to be contacted by email rather than a phone call, according to sales consultancy Rain Group. If done correctly, a well-executed email campaign could generate hundreds of sales.
But before you start sending off emails, you need to obtain the email addresses of qualified leads. Rather than manually trawling Google and LinkedIn for people interested in your industry, purchasing an email list instantly provides you with hundreds or thousands of potential customers to reach out to.
However, if buying email lists was so effective in generating sales, it’d surely be more popular! Purchasing an email list may not suit all businesses. If you’ve been deliberating about whether to purchase an email list or not, this guide will go through the pros and cons of buying email lists to help determine if it’s right for you and recommend the best services.
An email list is a list of email addresses of potential buyers. Companies email these leads to hopefully nurture them into paying customers.
To get an email list quickly, a company can purchase one from a vendor rather than slowly amassing one itself.
Some pros of buying an email list are immediately filling the company’s marketing and sales funnels, improving its conversion rates, and reducing costs.
Some cons of buying an email list are unsure lead qualities, low engagement and ROI, and damaging the company’s reputation.
Our three recommended email list vendors are Snov.io, Campaign Monitor, and ZoomInfo.
What’s an Email List?
Also called a consumer email list or email marketing list, an email list is a list of email addresses of people who are part of your company’s target audience.
Businesses use email lists to send marketing messages, newsletters, and announcements, hoping the recipient will purchase from the company or remain a loyal customer.
On top of the potential customer’s email address, an email list usually includes the lead’s full name, physical address, phone number, and other information describing how they fit into your company’s ideal customer profile: their age, location, occupation, and income range, at least. The exact details of each email list depend on the needs of the company using it.
A company can build its email list from the ground up by asking for customers’ email addresses, offering a subscription sign-up, or creating a lead generation funnel. But organic email list building requires quite a lot of time before the list grows to a useful size.
Instead, a small business just starting out can choose to purchase an email list from a third-party vendor to kick-start its email marketing campaign. For a one-time purchase or subscription fee, a business can instantly obtain hundreds of thousands of email addresses for people in their target audience.
Below, let’s go through three pros and three cons of buying email lists.
Pros of Buying Email Lists
1. Immediately Fill Your Marketing and Sales Funnels
Once you purchase an email list, you’ll immediately obtain hundreds of thousands of email addresses for potential customers, or leads.
With this data, your marketing and sales team can promote your business to an expanded audience, improving your brand awareness and reaching out to leads, hoping to eventually convert them to paying customers.
As you can tell from the name marketing and sales funnels, the further down the sales process leads go, the fewer leads there are, as potential customers either lose interest or are disqualified as a lead. This means that to increase your final number of customers, you’ll need to exponentially increase your number of inbound leads.
Buying an email list can provide you with those leads in one fell swoop, saving your marketing and sales reps the time and effort of trawling the internet for potential clients’ email addresses.
2. Improve Conversion Rate
More than simply filling your marketing and sales funnels with new leads, an email list usually promises that those leads are somehow qualified to be customers for your business; the lead usually gives their email address away in exchange for information about a product similar to yours or identified themself as part of your target segment when communicating with another company.
This means that the leads obtained from an email list better match your ideal customer profile than a random lead off the street, and are more likely to purchase from your company, improving your lead-to-customer conversion rate.
Plus, email list vendors often provide more than emails: names, phone numbers, and physical addresses might also be included with your purchase, allowing your marketers to customize emails to each recipient and run omnichannel marketing campaigns, further increasing your chances of success.
But be aware that the more info you have, the harder it will be to manage. So if you’re serious about running a complex email marketing campaign, you should also consider investing in email marketing automation software.
3. Decrease Spending
Though a business needs customers to bring in revenue, the other half of the equation is the cost of bringing in those customers: employee wages and operating expenses.
If your small business were to grow your email list naturally, it might take hours upon days for your employees to compile a list of qualified leads, cobbled together from LinkedIn and Google searches and patchy in quality. That’s time your employees could have spent doing more useful tasks, such as actually talking to and nurturing prospective customers.
Meanwhile, for a minimum of $100 per thousand emails, an email list can provide a deluge of leads for a fraction of the time, effort, and price. If even one or ten of those leads converts into a customer, that would likely be a high enough ROI to justify the cost of an email list rather than wasting employee wages on a fruitless search.
Email lists cost anywhere from $100 to $600 per thousand leads or a monthly fee of $200 to $500, depending on the vendor.
Cons of Buying Email Lists
1. Dubious Lead Quality
Though the potential customer might have been a hot lead when they provided their email to the list vendor years ago, they might have deleted their email or found a solution for their need in the time it took for their email address to arrive in your hands, rendering them a cold lead and a waste of your time and money.
Once a vendor obtains a lead’s email, they usually don’t check the lead’s qualification status or prune the list in any way; they have so many email addresses to sell because they amass them over the years, regardless of quality.
Because of this, always ask for a free trial or sample so your marketing team can test the quality of the provider before making any email list purchases. Most reputable sellers will be happy to oblige.
2. Low Engagement and ROI
Let’s be honest, no one enjoys unwanted emails. There’s a chance that the recipients of your email campaigns, instead of being enticed toward your business, are instead repulsed by your perceived invasion of privacy and immediately mark you as spam, condemning your email campaign before it can even start.
If that’s the case, you may not see a single cent of return from your investment in an email marketing list. Again, always ask for a free trial of an email list to test its efficacy before making any commitments.
3. Damaged Reputation
Whoever says that “any publicity is good publicity” likely doesn’t work in marketing and sales. For a business, the target audience’s perception and trust in a brand are tantamount to the business’s survival. If customers don’t like a company or believe it illegally obtained their information, they’ll never buy from them.
Though recipients of your unsolicited emails may now be aware of your brand, if your resulting emails are spammy or use the customer’s personal information without consent, your target audience may come away with a negative impression of your brand, decry your practices on social media, and warn their friends away from you.
To guard against this, vet your email list vendor for legal compliance and practice due diligence in your email list management, carefully segmenting leads to ensure customers only receive messages appropriate to them.
If you’ve decided that the pros outweigh the cons and want to purchase an email list, you’re in luck: we’ve reviewed the providers on the market and have found the top three best email list vendors in 2023.
With a stellar 4.8 out of 5 on TrustPilot, Snov.io is our top solution for purchasing and managing an email list. On top of email campaign tools, Snov.io also offers a sales CRM, integrating your marketing and sales functions into one platform for easy management.
Snov.io offers a free Trial Plan with 100 email recipients. After that, its Starter Plan costs $30 per month, its Pro Plan costs $75 per month, and its Custom Plan costs $999 per month. You can also choose different variations of the Pro Plan for different numbers of leads, though the tools will be the same.
2. Campaign Monitor
With 4.6 out of 5 on TrustPilot, Campaign Monitor is a reputable provider of email marketing management solutions. On top of their email database, Campaign Monitor also offers email marketing and automation tools to help you craft and manage your email campaign.
Pricing for Campaign Monitor starts with their free Trial Campaign with five leads. After that, their plans cost $9/$29/$149 monthly, increasing per thousand contacts.
Rated 3.5 out of 5 on TrustPilot, customer reviews praise ZoomInfo for always keeping their lead info up to date. ZoomInfo focuses on providing B2B email lists from different industries and provides filtering and segmentation tools to help marketers direct specific target audiences.
On the downside, ZoomInfo is a bit pricier, averaging around $250 monthly. Ironically, its exact pricing scheme is hidden behind an email-gathering tool.
Whether B2B or B2C, no business wants to deal with a dried-out sales funnel. Though it might damage your reputation and bottom line if handled improperly, purchasing an email list could be a viable way for a small and growing business to quickly bring in qualified sales leads.
With a well-chosen provider and a carefully-crafted email campaign, purchasing an email list could give a business the leverage it needs to jumpstart its sales funnel and make some much-needed sales.
Buying Email Lists FAQs
What do I do once I’ve bought my email list?
If you’re a B2B business, your sales reps should take their time researching a lead and crafting a personalized email to truly hit upon your potential customer’s pain points. With careful nurturing and time, the connection built may hopefully blossom into a sale.
If you’re a B2C business, your marketing team should instead craft a widespread emailing campaign to your entire mailing list, hoping that at least a few will find interest in your company and products.
Rather than sending emails one by one and risking forgetting to send an email to a warming lead, a CRM system, marketing automation software, or other email marketing software can help your marketing team automatically compose, schedule, and send emails. Most email lists come in the form of Excel sheets that can be imported into these software solutions.
Is it legal to buy email lists?
There aren’t any laws in the United States prohibiting the sale of email lists, making it perfectly legal.
However, emails aren’t unregulated: under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, email marketers are required to provide identifying information in their emails for liability purposes and must stop emailing customers who unsubscribe from the email list.
Depending on your location, you may also want to consult the CASL laws in Canada, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003 in the UK, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe for further guidance.
What features should I look for when choosing an email list provider?
On top of cost considerations, some additional features you might look for in a good email marketing service are email templates, a simple-to-use email editing platform, automation features, segmentation tools, and analytics tools.