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Eric Rardin 4 min read

Every Time You Buy An Email List - A Puppy Dies!

I saw this great video recently about purchasing email lists and had to share. It might not be true that a puppy dies every time you buy and email list, but your open rates and email reputation sure will.

What’s wrong with buying an email list? While you can buy a bucket of email addresses, you can’t buy permission to mail people en masse. That’s why hundreds of nonprofits have worked with Care2, because we recruit people to sign up for their email lists one at a time. There’s a huge difference between getting explicit permission to send someone an email and getting a list of people who, probably inadvertently, gave permission for an organization to share their email address with random “partners”.

A 1% open rate is common for purchased lists. Compare this to open rates nonprofits see from groups like Care2 which is between 20%-40%. Worse, mailing to a purchased list can result in a huge volume of spam complaints, making it harder than ever for you to get your messages into your supporter’s in-boxes. Your organization can also get black listed.

Since hopefully you agree that killing puppies, and your open rates and email deliverability is wrong, here is a short list of the best ways to grow your email list the right way:

1)    Have a well positioned sign up form on your website with limited form fields. Remember the more info you ask for on sign up forms, the less of a response you will get. Be strategic and ask for name, email, and zip code to start. As you build relationships with these people, you will be able to gather more info about them.

2)    Cost per lead (CPL) also referred to as cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per sign up. This form of list growth takes place on a partner’s website, like Care2. You specify your budget or how many people you want to sign up, and the provider finds them for you. This service varies widely in terms of process, quality and quantity. So investigate carefully.

3)    SEO/SEM – This supports number one above, it is often necessary to invest time into optimize your website, or invest money to drive traffic through paid ad words to generate sufficient traffic. Nonprofits can get Google grants to cover the cost, but not the time involved in optimizing your grant adwords budget.

Long live the puppies…