The truth about buying subscriber dataIt’s about time we discussed buying subscriber data.

Email marketing is challenging. With the time and effort it takes to put together a campaign, you can still feel short changed by the results.

The average email marketer can expect a 20-30% open rate and 2-3% click-through rate. That’s on a good day. On paper, that can be quite demotivating.  Especially, if you only have a small database to play with.

You may come to the conclusion that your database is just too small or of low quality. Moreover, that might tempt you into buying subscriber data.

Sounds too good to be true? It probably is…

So, you type ‘email database’ into Google. Immediately you see all manner of fantastic offers and ads for ‘fully opted-in’ or ‘regularly updated’ contact data.  You even discover that you can filter said data by detail such as job role, and location.

Sounds perfect…!

Or is it?

Unfortunately, in most cases – it isn’t. Most email service providers (including mailingmanager) will tell you they either don’t recommend purchased data. Or, they simply won’t accept it at all. Instead, you’re asked to build lists organically by adding double opt-in forms to your website or by capturing email addresses during a transaction.

The importance of organic growth

There are plenty of options available to build a list organically. The problem is that this is a process that takes a lot of time and effort. That is why organic growth is brushed aside as a result.

So, what are your options?

Firstly, consider the legality behind purchasing data. To make it clear, it is not illegal to sell, use or buy data. However, there are certain criteria that need to be met. They include:

  • how the data was collected (by the data provider);
  • how it is used (by the marketer).

If the above aspects check out, purchasing third party data generally sits within the law.

If you purchase data, you need to ensure that the provider has lawfully collected the data and obtained the right form of consent from the owners. The latest regulations are introducing measures to further protect personal data, and as the holder, you’ll become responsible for the protection of it, too.

The age of consent & buying subscriber data

When looking for a data provider, they will assure you that every contact has given their consent to receive emails from unknown parties. If this is true, then the list is unlikely to cause you any trouble.

The important word here is ‘consent’. Consent and permission have very different meanings and can easily be misconstrued.

The owners of the data you’re purchasing could very well have ticked (or missed) a box that gives their consent to receive third party emails, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve given their permission.

‘Permission’ refers to the act of requesting and welcoming emails from an individual or company. And this is where much of the ambiguity lies with purchased lists; it’s easy to say a contact has given their consent, but much harder to suggest you have gained their permission.

The people behind the addresses

Most of us receive a great deal of unsolicited email. It’s frustrating, and takes time to clear out.

If you have purchased data for marketing purposes, the likelihood is others will have bought the exact same list. And that means you’re simply adding to the volume of unsolicited email.

Regardless of how important or relevant your content is, if you simply sit among countless other unexpected emails, people are unlikely to take note.

With a subscriber list that has been built organically, each user has actively signed up to receive your mailings. This means they are more likely to positively engage with your email when they recognise your name among the countless spammers.  At least, there will be more loyalty than if you used a list from buying subscriber data.

What really matters

Like every marketing channel, what matters with email marketing is the results.

Whether you’re looking for in an increase in sales, new leads or simply reminding old customers you still exist, the numbers you generate are vitally important.

Spam remains a big problem, and if someone isn’t expecting an email, the likelihood is they will junk or delete the email. If that happens to a significant number of emails you send as a business, it’ll reflect badly on your sending reputation, and endanger future campaigns.

If you build subscribers lists organically, people will expect your emails and will therefore be more receptive. In turn, this will prove you’re a legitimate sender and increase the chance of your emails landing successfully with every send.

Wrapping up

In an ideal world, we’d all have big lists of fully opted-in contacts who are waiting to receive our mailings.  But you won’t achieve this by buying subscriber data.

In reality, it’s far better to have a smaller list of quality contacts that will interact with your emails instead of a huge list of people who will most likely view them as junk.

Our advice? Build subscriber lists organically – the payback is far greater.