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Thinking of buying an email list to promote your online course? Think again

Email is still the number one way of reaching potential customers online. You write a witty newsletter, you pack it with a nice offer and an engaging call to action and you send it to... well, a list.

The question is who exactly will be on that list.

Basic statistics say that the larger the number of people you advertise to, the greater the chances of success. While in theory this may hold true, the practice of modern-day online marketing shows otherwise.

6 Reasons why you shouldn’t buy an email list

So, if you are tempted to buy an email list instead of building one yourself, please change your mind. It may seem like an easy shortcut but in reality, it might prove to be a waste of money and a potential headache.

Here are a few reasons why.

  1. You will end up in the SPAM folder

    For good. Ever wondered where the word “SPAM” came from? It used to be a sort of canned meat, very much advertised and used, so the comedy group Monty Python made a sketch about it. It became viral (though the term was not yet coined to mean what it does today) and made SPAM mean something redundant and annoying.

    Well, if you buy an email list and your newsletter just pops in, totally uninvited, into people’s inboxes, it will be seen as an unwanted intrusion regardless of how fun and witty your content is.

    All your effort will be sent to the trash folder right after hitting the unsubscribe link.

  2. The list might not be trustworthy

    If you think that your email being labeled as spam is bad, how about it not reaching even half of the names on the list? There is no way to make sure that the names and addresses are all right or up to date.

    People offering these kinds of services are not always the most honest individuals. Even if you pay for, let’s say 2,000 addresses, most of them might be incorrect, have incomplete data, be closed or abandoned accounts.

    To make things even more complicated for you, there may be people who didn't want to be on any list, and you can be liable.

  3. You’ll be one of (way too) many

    If you found an email list for sale, so did many other online entrepreneurs. Vendors of such lists do not offer exclusivity and their goal is to make as much money as possible. That leaves you sending emails to the same recipients as everyone else who has purchased the list.

    What do you think are the odds of these unexpectant beneficiaries of all your marketing emails to be seriously aggravated by so much unsolicited material in their inboxes? It’s true that generating emotion is usually beneficial to sales, but not this kind of a strong sentiment.

  4. The response rate will surely be disappointing

    As I have mentioned before, strength does not lie in numbers when it comes to ready-bought email lists. The majority of recipients are highly likely to dismiss your email without even reading the whole title.

    Whether they are annoyed, not interested or simply not using that address any longer, people will not spend any time to figure out what you want from them, let alone give you some sort of response.

    Even in the case of carefully built, targeted lists the average open rates are at about 20%-25%. You can imagine what they are as long as your newsletters might not reach everyone on the list and those they do are not really interested.

  5. Your reputation will suffer

    If you are trying to sell your online course, you need people to trust you. Landing uninvited into their already flooding inboxes will do nothing but label you as intrusive. And it won’t take much more than a few upset tweets or social media posts with you tagged in them to make these appear first thing whenever a potential customer runs a Google search on you.

    Peer recommendation is paramount when it comes to online marketing and negative reviews can be very harmful even if they are just about your behavior in the virtual space and not necessarily about your product.

    Read more: 6 Awesome tips to get more customer reviews for your online course [INFOGRAPHIC]

  6. Your email provider might discontinue your address

    It’s probable that for the purpose of marketing your course you have created a business address and used it a lot to make your product known. There is a high possibility you carefully chose the title of the email address and would hate to lose it.

    Well, if too many of your outgoing items are labeled as SPAM you might end up with a fine and a closed account. In a darker scenario, the provider may even take legal action against you if are in violation of the terms of service.

    Of course, you could check what the legal consequences would be before buying a list, but my sincere advice is: don’t. There’s absolutely no benefit in it.

Just don’t buy an email list

As it often happens in life, shortcuts end up costing us more time and effort. There is a saying that goes "idle people have the least leisure" and that holds very true in this instance. What may seem like a simple solution is actually a potential generator of trouble.