Why You Should Never Buy an Email List

Written by Michael Cheney. Posted on 15th February 2021

Why You Should Never Buy an Email ListLet's talk about why you should never buy an email list...

If you've been trying to grow your email list you will have thought about this question at some point.

I'll get into the nuts and bolts of this (from my 20+ years email marketing experience) in a second but first;

Here's the fast summary for you;

Why you should never buy an email list?

  1. It goes against the terms and conditions of many autoresponders
  2. You risk spam complaints because recipients don't know you and will report your emails
  3. It's a high risk purchase because you will only know its effectiveness after you've paid
  4. Your response rate will be incredibly low - 45% of people open emails because of the Sender Name (a paid list doesn't know you at all).

If you're just starting out, or in a rush to get an email list up and running, you may still be tempted.

I'm here (with my 20+ years of in-the-trenches, email marketing experience) to tell you not to risk it, because they are better ways to build an email list fast...

#1. You Risk Getting Banned by Autoresponders

Aweber AutoresponderIf you're going to be sending any number of emails you need an autoresponder.

An autoresponder is a third party service which sends out the emails on your behalf.

They deal with all the hassle of getting inboxed, managing the database of email addresses and;

Dealing with spam issues.

This is important.

Because if you start trying to email a list of addresses you just bought then these people are going to complain - in droves.

They didn't enter their email address willingly to hear from you.

Even if the original list-owner did things by the book;

These email addresses belong to people who never gave their permission to receive emails from you.

And if you break the GDPR rules in Europe your organization could be hit with the maximum penalty which is $24.1 Million.

Getresponse says; "You shouldn’t ever purchase an email list." 

They are clear in their terms about not buying email list;

"GetResponse strictly prohibits users from renting, leasing and/or purchasing email addresses from a third party, as well as from gathering them through surreptitious methods, such as scraping or harvesting." 

Aweber states;

"Importing or in any way using purchased leads with an AWeber account is strictly prohibited. If you paid money or in any way purchased a group of pre-existing leads, these may not be used with AWeber. This includes co-registration services, "safe lists" or any type of free leads given to you. Only people that have specifically requested information directly from you may be emailed through AWeber." 

Mailchimp says;

"By agreeing to these Terms, you promise to follow these rules. You won’t send spam! You won’t use purchased, rented, or third-party lists of email addresses."

But let's just say - you still want to run the risk...

What exactly would happen?

#2. Your Spam Complaints Will Be Through the Roof

Spam ComplaintsIf you've bought a list you have paid for email addresses, not subscribers.

Subscribers willingly hand over their email address.

They have given their permission to get emails for you - they know you in some way and want what you have to offer.

When you buy an email list you don't know what you're getting (and neither do the people attached to all the email addresses!).

You are likely to face severe consequences the very first time you email a paid list.

Expect to see high numbers of spam complaints and verbal abuse.

You would deserve it, let's be honest!

This is not the kind of attention you want for your business;

It can kill your reputation in an instant, and potentially land you in legal trouble too.

But the other issue is;

#3. It's High Risk Because You Don't Know What You're Buying

High Risk to Buy Email ListThink about it;

Why would someone sell a responsive, valuable mailing list at all?

It's the most valuable commodity on the entire internet;

A list of prospects and customers you can get in front of at the touch of "Send" button.

If you had an email list which worked, would you sell it?

Or would you email that list regularly instead and generate masses of income from this 'golden goose' for years to come?

There's an old adage;

If something's too good to be true, then it probably is.

And this goes for buying an email list.

You could just be buying a dead list of scraped or black hat harvested email addresses.

You simply have no idea about the quality of the leads until you hit 'Send' that first time.

And by then, it's too late.

Your entire reputation for your business (and domain name) could be shot to pieces in one fell swoop.

Not to mention the fact you will have wasted the money you spent on buying the list in the first place.

This is another reason why you should never buy an email list.

But, as if that weren't bad enough...

#4. It Won't Work (You'll Get Low Open Rates, Click Through Rates and Sales)

Bad Email Response RatesYou'll have to do so much groundwork just to build rapport with these people, it just won't be worth the effort.

It's like you have your existing circle of friends just now.

You know them, you like them and you trust them.

Now imagine some random schmuck turns up on your doorstep and starts talking at you.

  • Who is this chump?
  • Where did he come from?
  • What does he want from me?
  • What is his ulterior motive?

You're totally caught off-guard and on the back foot.

Your natural instinct is to slam the door, ignore this guy and just not give him the time of day.

He's going to have to lay down some serious charm, trust-building and freebie-giving, to even get his foot in the door with you.

This is the task you face if you choose to buy an email list and start emailing them.

To say it would be "an uphill battle" doesn't even come close!

Now sure, by the law of averages, if you "throw enough spaghetti at the wall, some is going to stick".

But buying thousands of email addresses, and getting oodles of spam complaints, just to get a few sales is not worth it.

You will pay dearly in the long run.

This is why you should never buy an email list.

But what can you do instead?

#5. Alternatives to Buying an Email List

Alternatives to Buying an Email ListYou could just roll up your sleeves, and learn how to build email list fast, from scratch. 

Or maybe you could even harness the power of social media, and start building a free email list, using Facebook.

Sadly, there is no real shortcut to building a highly-responsive list of subscribers.

You have to put the miles in.

You need to offer something of great value to get them on the list, over-deliver in value with the free stuff you offer, and create emails which educate and entertain them.

The upside is that, after all this effort, you will have a list that truly loves you and responds positively to your emails (rather than showering you with spam complaints!).


Hopefully you can now see why you should never buy an email list.

It will hurt your business, cost you money, waste your time and kill your reputation.

If you got value from this post, you'll love this free video training;


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