Perhaps you’re a new company and don’t have a customer base. Maybe you have a service you’re sure that people will love… if only they heard about you. Whatever the reason, buying an email list seems like an easy, low cost way to grow your business but there are some serious consequences; and there’s real benefits to using an opt-in list!
What Is An Opt-In List?
You’ll often see terms like “opt-in, ” “permission based, ” “signups” and “subscribed”. When used properly, they all mean that the email list is comprised of people who:
- Are recent customers of yours, or
- Agreed to receive email updates directly from you, or
- Subscribed or signed up through an online sign-up form on your website or your landing page.
What Is A Purchased Email List?
There are many vendors out there who sell lists or rent them (though renting means that the list seller maintains ownership and control of the email list). These are collections of email addresses that the vendors sell to any business or individual who can pay the fees. Your email list is considered to be a purchased or shared list if it’s provided to you by a third party, like an email list vendor or affiliate. There’s a few ways that vendors build these “non-opt-in” email lists.
One common method is something you’ve likely come across. Think about those flashing banner ads you see across the web. They say things like “Congratulations, you’ve won a free iPad” or similar, “You’re our 1 millionth visitor, click to claim your prize!”
If you were to click on that banner, you’d wade through survey questions where they ask about age, income and collect other info relevant to placing you into categories that they can then offer as “targeted” options for marketers. They also collect your email address.
Another collection method happens when list vendors buy emails lists from industry trade shows (or other events) where people give their info during the registration process.
Online consumer surveys can often be a source of email addresses. The web surfer may be asked to fill out a survey and enter their email address to receive deals that they’ll find interesting.
If you sign up for something and the terms include words like “Sign up to receive updates from us and our partners we think you’ll like, ” your email address is likely being collected for a shared list. A subset of this is ‘co-registration.’ This is where you sign up at a website, but that website also automatically, or nearly automatically, signs you up for other sites. They try to legitimize this by informing you of the additional subscriptions, or providing boxes to uncheck. This is a situation where it’s not the subscriber’s intention to sign up for the material they will be receiving.