Why You Shouldn’t Buy Email Lists — and What You Should Do Instead

Maurine Anderson Energy Circle Content

With email still reigning as one of the most effective ways to convert people into customers, it’s essential to put some serious focus on email marketing for your HVAC, home performance or solar business. But before you go out and buy an email list to jumpstart your email marketing campaigns, you should know a thing or two about the hidden dangers of third-party email lists.

The Pitfalls of Purchased Email Lists

If you’re a contractor looking to generate leads quickly, purchasing an email list may sound enticing. With one purchase, you could have access to thousands of potential local leads — and all you have to do to convert them into customers is send out a mass marketing email. Unfortunately, the story with third-party email lists is not that simple.

There are regulations.

Did you know there are laws against sending out unsolicited bulk email? Sending out commercial emails using a purchased email list won’t necessarily get you in trouble; however, you could face fines of up to $16,000 per email if any email addresses on the list were harvested illegally or if recipients on the list have already opted out of receiving email from your company. In addition to these legal restrictions, many email service providers like MailChimp explicitly prohibit the use of third-party email lists under their Terms and Conditions. Whenever you send out unsolicited emails, you also run the risk of getting your IP address or domain blacklisted, which will cause email providers to start blocking your emails. This could keep your emails from reaching your recipients for years. In short, the only way to send out commercial emails without running into trouble is to use emails that you have collected using proper opt-in methods.

Quality isn’t guaranteed.

You cannot trust the quality of a purchased email list, either. These lists often contain out-of-date information and incomplete or missing data. They may even contain email addresses that were harvested through illegal means — which, again, could put you in serious legal trouble. Other businesses may be using the exact same list, as well. If the quality of a purchased email list isn’t very high, you can’t expect its conversion rate to be very high, either.

You don’t own your data.

When you have established your own email list which is filled with recipients who have specifically opted in to receive emails from you, you have the power to create tailored messaging for certain demographics within your target client base. You can filter your list to create a sub-list of only past customers, for example, and then send out an email geared specifically toward them. Or, you might create a sub-list of new leads from your website, and then create an email specifically for these potential clients. When you are constantly growing your own email list, you own your data and can use that to your advantage in your marketing.

It harms your strategy.

Relying on email lists breeds dependency and keeps you from fleshing out a strong and well-rounded email marketing strategy. You end up allocating large chunks of your budget for purchasing these lists, at the expense of everything else that could be a part of your marketing budget. Instead of dedicating time and money to email lists, focus your resources on growing your own email list, creating high-quality emails, optimizing your website, etc.

It simply isn’t effective.

Sending an unsolicited email is a lot like showing up to dinner at someone’s home uninvited. Do you expect your email to receive a warm welcome? An unsolicited email comes across as spammy, and even if it makes it past the recipient’s spam filter, it’ll likely get sent straight to the trash.

Email Lists Done Right

Imagine having an ever-growing email list that is completely up-to-date — one with an exceptionally high conversion rate that you can organize into specific demographics. Sounds great, right? Well, when you go about email marketing the right way, that can be exactly what your email list looks like. Here are a few tips on how to build a strong and thriving email list from scratch.

Work with an email service provider.

One of the first steps to creating a strong email marketing strategy is to invest in an email service provider. (We recommend MailChimp.) With an email service provider, you can easily send out marketing emails in bulk, without getting flagged by your email client. You’ll also gain access to invaluable email marketing features, such as easy design, list management, email tracking and subscription management. You’ll be able to send emails out to customized lists, track the impact of your emails, let your customers manage their subscription preferences and more, all while adhering to current email regulations.

Draw people in with something of value.

Once you’re up and running with an email service provider, it’s important to give people a reason to subscribe to your emails in the first place. One of the most effective ways to do this is to create resources — such as informational articles, videos or guides — that visitors can access via email subscription. You might, for example, create a “getting started guide” for homeowners who want to prepare their homes for solar panel installation. You would then promote your guide on your site to draw in subscribers.

Make it easy to subscribe.

In addition to valuable content, the layout and design of your website can help you grow your email list. The easier it is for visitors to your site to subscribe to emails, the more likely they are to do so. Let’s say, for example, you’re using a guide titled “5 Ways You Can Make Your Home More Energy Efficient Today” to encourage visitors to join your email list. Instead of promoting your content in a quiet corner of your website, you might use a floating bar, lightbox popup or 2-step opt-in to encourage people to subscribe to the free download. If your web platform is optimized for your industry, optimizing your website to grow your email list won’t be a problem.

Email: Part of a Larger Digital Marketing Strategy

Remember — email marketing makes up just one part of your marketing budget. When done right, however, your email marketing will work together with other parts of your digital marketing strategy to generate leads for your business. An email, for example, could point subscribers to a great blog post about insulation you recently posted on your site. Or, an email might encourage past customers to sign up for a convenient maintenance plan. However you use email, just be sure to dedicate some time to growing and nurturing your own email list. The rest of your digital marketing strategy will thank you for it.

Email marketing, when done right, can generate high quality leads for your HVAC, home performance or solar business. Call (207) 847-3644 or contact us to learn more.

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