Recently, a client posted in a private Facebook Group catering to golf pros, asking for advice about how to take advantage of an email list he acquired. He is the golf pro at a local golf and country club, teaching golfers how to improve their game. The marketing director of the country club gave him a list of 5,000 emails of people who signed up on the country club website asking about tee times. The golf pro wanted to know what he should email the list; he also seemed to have some trepidation as to whether or not to email them.
Other golf pros in the Facebook group weighed in with their opinion, one said; “Yeah, you should blast them your offers and see what happens, what do you have to lose?” Others gave similar advice, recommending email services that would allow you to email acquired (or purchased) email lists, how to pitch them. One even justified the use of the free email list say because subscribers are already interested in golf, they asked for tee time information.
I would seem logical that getting a free list of email of people interested in your topic sounds like a goldmine! It makes perfect sense to blast these people your offer and pitch them to sign up with you for golf lessons, after all they had inquired about tee times, they obviously are golfers looking to play golf, and would welcome any and all offers for lessons, golf clubs, golf accessories, outings, special events and the like.
How to Acquire an Email List?
Before getting into my recommendation for how to use an acquired list, here are the three most common ways marketers acquire contacts lists:
- Buy an email list. Working with a list provider to find and purchase a list of names and email addresses based on demographic and/or psychographic information. For example, you might purchase a list of 50,000 names and email address of people who live in Michigan and known supporters of charity.
- Rent an email list. You approach the owner of a list of high school coaches and athletic directors and they email the list on your behalf.
- Own an opt-in email list. Someone voluntarily, either online or in person, gives you their name an email address so you can send them emails.
In the case of our golf-pro, has was actually given the list, which is not as common, but the same holds true, and since it was given him by a non-professional list owner, the quality of the list is probably even less likely to perform. In a future article we will explore some very effective methods of building your own opt-in, permission based email list.
Now for my advice to the golf pro.
There is one huge factor you should consider before even attempting to email ANY acquired list.
Permission. The very first step to building a successful list is to get permission from subscribers who want to receive your emails. Permission is not only common courtesy, but required by ANTI-SPAM laws around the world.
However, the reason permission is so important isn’t just the fact that it is illegal to send bulk email to subscribers who didn’t give you permission to email them; it is also an issue of effectiveness.
Your email won’t be effective, simply because no permission was given. The people on the list are more likely to ignore your emails; they won’t remember when they asked to receive information from you and will delete it.
- You Can Get Banned by Your Email Service Provider
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Email Lists
- Reputable email providers don’t allow you to send to non-opt-in lists. When you import a list ESPs require you to disclose the source, and if the list member gave permission. If they discover you list is not an opt-in list they will ban you and perhaps even fine you.
- Good email lists are not for sale. The good lists are good because they gave the list owner direct permission to email them. In addition, reputable list owners disclose their email privacy practices, these policies usually state they will never share or sell your email information to a third party.
- Purchased lists are not responsive. One of my clients purchased a very targeted email list of 20,000 names and emails. When he emailed them, he had a very poor open rate, because subscribers didn’t know them, the click through rate was less than one percent.
My client did not get one sale from his emailing and the list cost him over $6,000. In addition, the email service provider discovered the list was a non-opt-in list and suspended his account, because mailing to non-opt-in lists was a violation of their terms of service. My client removed the list; his account was re-instated with a warning. He went back to the list provider and asked them to do a mailing on his behalf. The results were just as before, dismal, with no sales and no additional leads.
How to Best Use an Acquired Email List
While I don’t recommend emailing an acquired list directly, there is one way that can be very effective, if done right. That is having the list owner do a solo, recommendation email, can be very effective. Ask the list owner to send an email on your behalf, making a recommendation to use you as a resource.
Ask email recipients to visit gated content on your website to request more information about your offering. Make sure your offer is valuable, solves a problem and adds value to the list owner’s subscribers.
This method will build you a small list of subscribers that are interested in your offer and they gave you permission to send them emails.
It is always best to build your own mailing lists. Acquiring lists borrowed, purchased or rented are never going to be as effective. Never email a list of people who did not give you permission, it will save you reputation and emailing your own list will be much more effective.
In the long run, taking the time to build your own email list, based on your unique skills and offering will be much more profitable. A small list of 300-500 people can easily sustain and grow your small business as long as you keep building and growing, nurturing and providing value.