Email Marketing: Building vs. Buying Email Lists

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Buying an email marketing list is like outsourcing your sales to a third-world country—seemingly cost effective, but with low returns built on brand-damaging service. While many people call buying email marketing lists ‘evil’ (and in a sense they can be right), there is a time and a place for everything—including opting to not build your own email lists.
Email Marketing: Building vs Buying Email Lists
Email marketing can be a business-building venture when done correctly—but can buying email lists work for your company, or, would it be better served by organically growing email lists. To help you decide here are the pros and cons of the two different email lists strategies:
Buying Email Lists

  • Offers you an immediate list to begin marketing with
  • Offers targeted end users
  • Can be a great opportunity for limited-run, targeted campaigns


  • Can be affordable—but also can be pricey, at $.50 to $3+ per contact
  • Can have low ROI based on how many times the list has been sold
  • Can adversely damage your sender reputation over the short- AND long-term based on open rates
  • You could be blacklisted by ISP companies

Building Email Lists

  • Allows you to powerfully segment the lists while you build them
  • Are organic
  • Have higher open and response rates as users have opted-in
  • Offer greater ROI
  • Can be well-maintained over time
  • Supports other complimentary online and offline marketing


  • It takes time to build as you build lists organically

The long and short of it is that growing your own email marketing list organically is always the best option, but it takes smart marketing—and time. Buying lists can give you an instant boost over the short-term but is no replacement for a long-lasting strategy. Buying lists however, can unfortunately damage your email sender reputation—which can damage the efficacy of all your email marketing campaigns in the future.
So, ask us how we can improve your email marketing strategy, and we can get your business on the right path to the long-term email marketing growth that will sustain your online business for years to come.

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