AWS Messaging & Targeting Blog

On Buying Lists

Simon Says Don’t Buy a List*

As you email market to your customers, there can be tremendous pressures from business owners or even self-inflicted pressure to increase the size of the channel for your email.  Building up your email list through traditional marketing routes such as:  banner ads, word-of-mouth, and search hits can feel slow and time consuming.  The lure of buying a list of email addresses is great, especially since it’s a list of opted-in recipients who are already engaged and interested.  How bad could it be?

If you care about your business and your customers, don’t do it.  It will only lead to frustration on your part and possibly impact your business.

It is simply not possible for these lists to be opted-in for your purposes, because the people behind those email addresses don’t know what they are opting-in to in the first place.  By definition, if you are coming along after the list has been amassed, these recipients couldn’t have possibly opted in to your email.  These lists also can include spam traps, role accounts, and other recipients who will only get you into trouble with any ESP you use.  The spam traps are especially insidious as you may not know you have included them, and since they can’t possibly opt-in, the ISPs take a very dim view of this behavior.

Finally, the goal of any email campaign is to get customers to engage.  Your best customers are those that engage often and repeatedly visit your website or buy your products.  Adding a bunch of random email addresses for people who didn’t sign-up will get you more email addresses, but will dilute your engaging base and make it harder to market to your customers.

*Simon Says is a children’s game with ancient origins –