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SaaS Email Marketing: 4 Reasons Your Startup Shouldn't Buy Email Lists

By William Steward on Fri, Jul 8, 2016

When many SaaS marketers are looking to run a marketing campaign, one of the first things they jump to do is buy an email list: a collection of email addresses they can send bulk messages to. Some lists are completely untargeted, others allow you to attempt to target specific people at specific organisations. 

Going out and buying a list takes a lot less time and effort than building your own. So why shouldn't you be doing it, and how do great SaaS companies go about building a list instead?

Why Your Startup Shouldn't Buy Email Lists

1) Your Company's Email Deliverability Will Be Hurt

Paid email lists tend to result in high undelivered rates, and they get reported as spam by receivers more regularly. This is a warning flag to email providers, who report spam scores on email addresses, domain names, and IP addresses. 

By sending out bulk emails to paid lists, you'll risk having your domain name and IP addresses blacklisted by email service providers worldwide, which could have a huge impact on your business. 

2) Reputable ESP's Won't Let You Use Bought Lists

Any reputable email service provider (ESP) won't let you use bought lists to send emails.

This is because of the point above. Using an email service provider to send out bulk email to lists which haven't opted-in to receive emails from you results in their IP addresses being blacklisted. This has a negative impact on all of their customers' email marketing campaigns.

That means that in order to send out emails to bought lists, you'll probably need to work with a shady ESP who looks the other way, which will in turn mean their other clients are doing the same, and that your email deliverability rates will plummet to unprofitable levels.

3) Paid Lists Are Never "Good Lists"

No matter how good your list provider claims their email addresses to be, they'll never be as good as they say.

Email marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year.

How old is the email database your provider is selling to you? It doesn't take too much time for the majority of the email addresses you are purchasing to be inaccurate. 

Many email marketing database sellers also get their data from dubious sources. People enter fake details, and the accuracy of the data is usually poor to begin with. It doesn't take a maths genius to work out that the majority of the emails you purchase will either go nowhere, or to someone not interested in your products or services.

4) The Recipients Won't Open Your Emails

Do you open and read every email you receive? Probably not.

Most people take one look at the subject line and the sender, then make an instant decision on whether the email gets read, ignored, deleted or marked as spam. When you are sending out emails to paid lists, you're sending your emails to people who probably have no idea who your company is. This means that open rates will be poor.

So by the time you've considered that...

  • A big chunk of the emails you buy will be useless
  • Your delivery rates will be seriously low due to using a bad ESP
  • The tiny percentage of people that do get your email probably won't open it
...the idea of buying that great big list seems a whole lot less appealing, right? So what can you do instead?

Build An Opt-In List

There are lots of great ways to build opt-in lists. You can:

  • Collect people's contact details at tradeshows
  • Create a blog, and include a form people can fill in to subscribe to your updates
  • Publish eGuides, allowing visitors to exchange their contact details for a free download.
In doing so, you let people choose to receive communication from you, rather than send it to them without their permission. In turn, your contact database becomes much more active and engaging. This is one of the core tenets of inbound marketing.

The important thing to remember is not to spam your opt-in lists. Provide your contacts with great content that they'll want to receive. Not just sales messages. Try to make your emails so good that your opt-in contact database would miss them if they weren't there. If you failed to send an email for a while, would you get emails from a few contacts about what's happened/where you've been? It's a great litmus test.

So stop buying the lists, and start building your own. Invest the money you'd spend on data into developing your own blog and premium content like eGuides. You won't regret it, and you'll build a SaaS email marketing list of real value.

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