Personally, I’d rather build my own email lists, but there are times when buying a list has its benefits. Especially if you want a large list, fast. Just like buying anything else, though, there are pitfalls to buying a list. Here are eight things to watch out for when choosing your email list provider.
You Get What You Pay For
Understand this, right from the beginning: You only get what you pay for. If you find someone out there who’s willing to sell you 500,000 names for $50, then your own experience should tell you that’s not going to be a highly targeted list, it’s probably been shared with dozens of others, and you’ll be lucky if even 25% of the names are active. You know how hard it is to build a good list. Don’t expect to pick one up at bargain basement rates.
Look For Experience and Longevity
Look for an email list provider that’s been in the business for a few years and knows what they’re doing. Don’t just buy your list from any Tom, Dick or Harry. Again, you know what it takes to build a good list and it’s not something that can be accomplished over night. If the provider just came on the scene last month, where do you think he’s getting his lists? He’s buying them from someone – probably someone who’s just cobbling a bunch of lists together and dumping them at bargain basement prices.
Ask About Response Rates
Before you pay for a list, ask the provider about response rates. You want a list that is at least 90% deliverable with the highest open rates possible. Buying a list of 5,000 names, no matter what the price, won’t do you any good if nobody on the list opens the emails and half the accounts don’t exist anymore.
Make Sure the Subscribers Have Granted Permission
Don’t assume that just because the provider says there’s a 90% open right all of the members have agreed to share their email addresses. Ask before you buy. If none of them have agreed to share you’re setting yourself up for some major spam complaints.
Ask About Targeting Options
Obviously, you don’t want just some random list. You want a targeted list. The provider should have options to help you tailor your list to meet your specific marketing needs. Some providers will even assist you with marketing ideas, such as creating better subject lines or setting up a predictable email schedule to increase your open rates.
Ask About Competition
Ask how recently any of your competitors have purchased this same list. If you’re both promoting the same or similar products to the same list, neither of you will have much success.
Ask for a Sample
Some email list providers will offer a sample list or give you a trial testing period so you can check out their service and response rates. If they don’t automatically offer it, ask for it.
Shop Around and Compare Prices
Don’t jump at the first offer you see, even if it meets all your requirements. Shop around and compare prices. And let the providers know you’re shopping around. They’re trying to make sales, too, and some might be willing to drop their prices to get your business.