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Myth 9: Buying lists doesn't harm anyone

Category: Email Marketing

Imagen Myth 9: Buying lists d

Surely, temptation has arrived in your email in the form of someone offering you databases from different sectors. You read that they claim to be of high quality, and you consider it because it could give a boost to your email marketing. Do you think you wouldn't harm anyone if you paid for them? On the contrary! Don't fall into the trap; don't believe the myth that buying email lists harms no one because it only benefits the seller.


The Recipients, the First Victims

A common practice in these types of offers is to indicate the number of emails included in the list, i.e., people to import directly into your database. They are often thousands for a ridiculous price when you calculate how much the investment could return compared to your current contacts. But don't be fooled: they are nothing alike!

These companies (or individuals) sell data of people without their knowledge. It's a volume sale, by weight, without considering the quality of the information. They don't bother to verify addresses to confirm they are active or check if any of the accompanying data are real, or even if they are repeated in the same document they are selling.

This is because these email accounts are not obtained legally according to GDPR; quite the opposite, as they use questionable practices to extract information from public pages. But there's a significant difference between putting contact on a professional or even corporate website and giving consent to receive commercial information from strangers.

How would someone react to receiving a message of that sort without knowing who the sender is? Probably by marking it as spam from their email manager, trying to unsubscribe, and creating a negative image of the company that sent it. It's normal because they receive many unwanted communications if someone is trading with their data.

In this fraudulent practice, the recipients are the most directly affected because they bear the brunt of spam without being able to exercise their rights against the infringer. They can't request the removal of their information or report it because they don't know who it is. They can only complain about the individual messages they receive from companies, for example, yours if you believe the lie that nothing happens when you buy databases.


The Sender is Also Harmed

Perhaps the price offered for thousands of email accounts seems like an economical option, considering what it costs you to reach your current number of subscribers, or it sounds like a quick solution to start if your list is at zero. But it's not cheap at all: it's a practice that can cost you dearly in the long run.

Let's imagine that you download the database you bought, thinking it was a good idea, and import it into your email marketing platform. The first mistake would be mixing people who don't know you at all with subscribers who have been following your communications for a while and with whom you already have a certain relationship.

They may be customers or not, but at the very least, they recognize your name and acknowledge you as the sender. This is the opposite of what will happen with the new ones because they haven't visited your website or completed your signup form. You also wouldn't have the same information to segment because the lists that are sold are usually grouped only by sector, if at all, and if they are the one you are interested in.

The next mistake you would notice if you manage to complete the import is that, among apparently valid addresses, there are quite a few that are useless and only serve to affect your reputation as a sender. Keep in mind that double opt-in is not used to obtain them, so their veracity has not been checked. A typical example is that the domain does not exist, either because the registration was canceled or because it is misspelled.

It's also possible that there are repeated, inactive, temporary, or even spam traps because frequent maintenance has not been done to keep it clean. Quantity is more important for those selling data than its quality, so don't be surprised if the number of valid accounts decreases.

Let's continue assuming. If you were to send a message to these people, the results would be very poor. You would have few openings, clicks, and conversions, but the worst part is that you would get many returns, complaints, and unsubscribes. This affects the performance of that specific campaign, but also others because your deliverability would drop, causing future communications, even to the good customer list, to go to the spam folder.


The Alternative: Permission Marketing

Unlike the purchase of databases, some companies do care for their subscribers and allow them to choose whether they want to receive information from third parties. With permission marketing, it's possible to have lists of people who give their consent to receive messages from other companies (sometimes in exchange for an incentive, but not always). The difference from purchasing is that renting is legal.

It's said to "rent" the list because a company can send it to its members without having access to their data since it's done from the proprietary platform of the contacts. This way, their privacy is protected, and GDPR is respected because the sender doesn't change, only the content adapted to the campaign to be communicated.

After the send, statistical information is provided to evaluate the results, which will always be better than if you bought because permission has been granted to receive commercial communications from other companies. Furthermore, the reputation of the sender and brand image is not jeopardized, so when renting lists for email marketing, no one is harmed.

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