Email is a vital part of any business marketing strategy, as it gives you a platform to communicate directly with your current and potential customers. Therefore, an engaged list of subscribers is important to the success of your email marketing. But what do you do when you have a meagre or non-existent list of customers to send your emails to?
Out of sheer laziness, insane pressure to meet goals, or being swamped with other aspects of content strategy with no time to build a mailing list, some businesses resort to buying or renting one instead. These ready-made lists can even be tailored to certain demographic or other information which is relevant to your business objective, so all you have to do is hit send.
Seems like a brilliant shortcut eh? While this may solve the immediate problem of boosting the number of subscribers on your mailing list, this isn’t a sustainable way to grow your business. As with most things in life, taking the easy way out rarely benefits you in the long run. This post will show you how purchased email lists can hurt your business and the benefits of opt-in email marketing instead.
5 Pitfalls of Purchased Email Lists
1. Breaking the law: most data protection and anti-spam laws require that you have the explicit consent to mail those subscribers. This effectively prohibits sending bulk, unsolicited emails. There are legislations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the CAN-SPAM Act which regulate commercial email. To this end, they stipulate hefty fines and even jail time for flouting their provisions.
2. No shared connection: the whole point of sending an email to a subscriber is to build an engaged relationship, while relying on a pre-existing connection. Your subscribers should’ve had some sort of interaction with your business in the past and want to hear from you. When you send emails to a bunch of strangers who have no idea about you or what you do, there’s a good chance most of your mails get ignored, deleted, or reported as spam. This significantly decreases your engagement rate and the possibility of driving more leads.
3. The Nuisance factor: you do know that the mailing list you bought isn’t unique to you right? The subscribers listed there probably receive numerous messages from other businesses who purchased the same list. Would you show up to a random party without an invitation? So why gatecrash somebody’s inbox?
4. Ruins your sending reputation: if your email marketing tactics generate annoyance and a burden for the recipient instead of goodwill for your business, then it’s simply an exercise in futility. Also, most Email Service Providers (ESPs) will not allow you send mails to a purchased list, as it hurts their business and the other users who used the shared IP address. This could lead to your account being shut down.
5. Poor quality of subscribers: a lot of the email addresses on these purchased lists are stale, or simply fake and have high bounce rates, meaning no one may get to see your content. Some of these dormant addresses are spam traps used by Email or Internet providers to catch spammers, which results in the sender being blacklisted.
Why is Opt-In Email Marketing a Better Alternative?
This involves sending emails to subscribers that have opted to be part of your mailing list. This is a more ethical and effective approach to email marketing, because the recipient is already aware about your business and has demonstrated a willingness to be contacted by you. Some easy ways to build your opt-in mailing list are:
• Place subscription forms in conspicuous spaces on your business website, where visitors can sign up for newsletters and blog updates. This can also be adapted to a brick and mortar store by keeping similar forms next to the cashier. Make it simple and attractive.
• Create useful tools, such as e-books, guides, webinars, audiobooks, etc. that your readers can subscribe for. Promote these resources on your other media platforms with links back to your website.
• Run a contest which requires participants to register with an email address
• Make sure you’re publishing engaging content in the first place, which your readers will want to keep up with across all platforms (including email) and incorporate share buttons to enable your subscribers forward your content.
• Organize or participate in physical events like fairs or exhibitions, where you can interact personally with people and collect email addresses to be imputed into your database
• Make sure to get in touch with a new subscriber as soon as possible, when you’re still fresh in their mind. Take advantage of automated replies to get this done.
• Constantly evaluate your existing database to make sure you have a list of active, engaged subscribers.
And there it is! Don’t be daunted by the challenge of building an organic mailing list. Ultimately, a small list of quality subscribers will always achieve more business goals than a large quantity of hit-or-misses that are a drain on your efforts and resources. It may seem like a lot of work compared to just swiping your card and getting a magical list of contacts, but with consistency and smart work, it is totally do-able.