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List Buying – Pros and Cons

Building your qualified prospects is one of the prime goals of any marketing professional. With more prospects at your disposal, you can increase your end buyer and improve your brand’s success and visibility. While there are some individuals who ascribe to the traditional method of list building, which is through asking website visitors to join newsletters and forwarding newsletter information to potential buyers, some prefer the non-conventional and up-and-coming method of buying e-mail lists.

If you’ve ever considered this option, you’ve probably wondered to yourself what the pros and cons are. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of buying a list, you can make an informed decision for your brand and its marketing tactics.

What is an E-Mail List and What Does it Mean to Buy One?

An email list is a list of prospects that may be potentially interested in your brand. Email lists are usually built through asking individuals to join e-mail newsletters regarding your brand’s business updates, new products, and much more. Through an email list, you can turn a potential prospect into an end buyer, thereby increasing the success of your brand.

These days, rather increasing email lists through traditional methods, many marketing professionals are starting to consider buying an email list. Buying an e-mail list is essentially purchasing a list of potential email accounts to add to your email list.

Advantage: A Quick Solution and Time Saver

The first advantage of buying an email list is the obvious – buying an email list is a quick solution and a time saver to the traditional method of list building that takes months, a great deal of effort, creativity. By saving yourself time and effort, you can focus more important elements of your marketing, such as the newsletters that you send out and how to turn those email prospects into end buyers.

Advantages: You May Get a Higher Conversion Rate

The second advantage of buying an email list is that you may get lucky and find that needle in the haystack and attain the conversion rate that you were looking for. By signing those new individuals to your newsletters and turning them from prospects into buyers, you can essentially pay for the cost of the email list itself and at this point, you gain instead of lose. However, if you are expecting to convert through every email list that you buy, you should try to be a bit more realistic and tailor your expectations.

Advantage: Not Too Costly

Another advantage of purchasing an email list is that it is a solution that is not very costly. You can get an email list for a few hundred dollars. Keep in mind though that the better lists are going to be those that cost more. In considering the cost, purchasing a list can be worthwhile if it costs less to buy the list than to put in the work to build your list.

However, when you’re making the overall decision, it is imperative that you also understand the disadvantages of purchasing an email list. Sometimes, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages and ultimately make it a bad idea to purchase an email list. In many cases, purchasing an email list has more disadvantages than advantages.

Disadvantage: Unhappy “Subscribers”

The most apparent disadvantage of buying an email list is that you are bound to get replies from “subscribers,” and those replies are bound to be full of complaints. In many cases, it is likely that individuals who are complaining about receiving emails will not only complain to the brand, but they’ll also share their complaints and concerns with their friends and family.

As a marketing professional, you should realize that the shared information can negatively impact your brand in the long run. You never want to create a brand image that fosters negativity and feelings of animosity.

You Won’t Always Get Quality

One of the main issues with buying an email list is that there is a strong misconception that the list bought is going to be a quality list. The truth is, in many instances, the list you’ll get will not be at the quality level that you are looking for. The main argument behind this point is that a marketing agency or a list builder is simply not going to sell a list of qualified prospects.

If they were qualified prospects, the agency would use the list for their own marketing and branding purposes. The logic of this argument is pretty real and as someone interested in buying a list, it is something that you should realize. Buying a list is not a guaranteed solution – it is a risk with some pretty high stakes involved.

Spamming is Never a Solution

Finally, when you purchase an email list, the expectation is that the email addresses will receive emails from your brand at a level that is considered spamming. When spamming, you not only hurt your brand, but you hurt your brand’s image, its future marketing efforts, and many effective tactics that you could use in the future.

At the end of the day, spamming is never a solution to turning prospects into confirmed buyers. In all likelihood, those that you spam are not only going to block your brand’s emails, but you’ll also receive complaints and some negative press.


While there are a few good reasons to list buying, there are many more disadvantages to making the purchase. Those who buy and use email lists risk wasting money, they may not get the quality they’re looking for, subscribers will not be happy with the emails, and it is very unlikely that you’ll find that diamond in the rough.

Overall, buying an email list does not come close to the work and effort of building an email list on your own. You’ll have much more success if you do things naturally, despite the time and monetary investment involved. Therefore, the next time you think of buying an email list, you should realize that nothing comes close to natural efforts.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

One comment

  1. Hi,

    We provide ready to use email list of prospects. Would you be interested in acquiring ready to use email list for your lead generation purpose? Please let me know your target audience and few free samples would be sent for your review.

    Your quick note will be greatly appreciated.


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