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Nov 18, 2008


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Anna Billstrom

Ah, Rick, not Rijk. Sorry about that!

Anna Billstrom

I heartily disagree, Rijk:

"But when all conditons [sic] are met (opt-in, reliable sender, relevance, frequency rules, etc.), renting and using external email lists can be, and in fact is proving to be a very successful marketing- and ROI device. "

No, even with "conditions met" the lists significantly underperform (despite being at cost) compared to organically acquired lists. And I'm talking open/click rates, not even the cost involved in getting the lists.

I've even compared appended data to "natural"- inhouse data as segmentation- and that has underperformed as well. Oh, and that's even without considering the hefty costs.

It's not unfair to call them datafarms- many of these require customers to provide them with your data, which they then repurpose and sell to other clients. But, you pay for that. With a little work on internal data systems, you get a lot more bang for your buck.

This is a focus on quality over quantity. Marketers need to get beyond that and start improving communication to their existing base.

Tamara Gielen

Libby, the only people that disagree that purchasing lists is a bad idea, are people that are in the list business... makes you wonder why they disagree, right?

Purchasing email lists is NEVER a good idea. A company that advertises that they sell email lists "for as low as 60$" should never be trusted. Where did they obtain these email addresses? My guess is they scraped them off a bunch of websites and other shady tactics like that. So stay away from them. Period.

Please note that I am not saying that renting email lists is a bad idea. List rental can work. But you should always ask the list rental company how they obtained the email addresses, how they got the subscriber's permission and how often the list is emailed. The last thing you want is that your company/brand is labeled as a spammer for sending emails to people that didn't ask for them.

Also, also make sure that it's the list rental company that sends out the emails. If they give you the list so you can send the emails from your system, run away as fast as you can. Seriously.

Also ask them to do a trial on a random subset of their list to see if you'll actually get a return for your money. List rental is not cheap and there are not a lot of good email lists out there to rent.

Be careful.


This is a great article and agree with everything except #4 which I agree Rick van Dijk. I think when all the conditions are met, renting and using external email list can successful especially if you use it to eventually use it to target your email address.


I'm interested on the point no 11. It shows that we have nothing to lose when they unsubscribe. People don't like to be forced! Chances are 80% they will stay.

Rick van Dijk

I fully agree with most of the suggestions, good job!

However, as an intermediate for (B2B) email list renting I'd like to add a little nuance to your no.4 suggestion 'do not purchase email lists'.

We frequently talk to media planners and marketeers. Some of them take advice like this and translate it to 'never use external mail lists for marketing'.

They don't see the clear distinction between directly buying lists, (i.e. the notorious cd/dvd's and bulk lists) vs. indirectly renting qualified opt-in (!) address lists provided by established publishers and list owners.

Let me make absolutely clear that using external addresses is a delicate matter and should be handled with utmost care and caution. Again, physically purchasing cd/dvd's/bulk/batches is a strict nono.

But when all conditons are met (opt-in, reliable sender, relevance, frequency rules, etc.), renting and using external email lists can be, and in fact is proving to be a very successful marketing- and ROI device.

Anton Panaitesco

Excellent points! I would just add a few of them:
- Never, ever make third party email lists exchange (I give you 100k third party optin emails and you do the same).
- Be very carefull when using white fonts on dark background images, Bg images wont display in some readers and the text would then be invisible.
- Always introduce yourself at the top of the mail and the reason why the user receives your communications (you receive this email because you registered to...)

Nice job!

Neil Anuskiewicz


As the person who did the blog post linked to here, I 100% agree that harvesting emails off the web and purchasing lists is completely unacceptable.

Most Email Service Providers (ESPs), including the StreamSend Email Marketing service, forbid these practices in their Terms of Service. We work very hard to enforce these rules.



You make some excellent points. People need to realize that buying email lists is a BAD strategy. It does not work. Those of us in the permission-based email industry need to keep making that point clear. We do not want to be associated with spam, and so will not tolerate purchased lists.


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