I had the chance to spend the afternoon at the SendGrid Delivered conference in Denver a couple weeks ago. Their focus was one word: deliverability. Getting your emails into the inbox of your prospects and guests.
The atmosphere was professional but casual, and began with a request of all the attendees:
“Everytime any one of us says the words ‘purchased lists’, we want you to do two things. First, BOO. Then, HISS.”
They considered purchased lists the villains, the enemy, of deliverability. They pointed out three factors that make purchasing these lists one of the biggest mistakes you could make.
SendGrid’s relationships with the ESP’s allows them unique insights that they freely share with the world through content and soon via their API. One of the things I had never considered was sending volume consistency.
If ESPs see a spike in sends that doesn’t match your typical patterns, that puts a red flag next to your IP address in their system. Guess what happens with you buy a list of 50,000 emails? Spikes. Lots of new, unnatural spikes. Strike one.
Spam traps come in two main varieties. First, an email address that is created but never shared publicly. The only way these addresses are typically found is by scraping pages for email addresses. If you send an email to one of these addresses, they’ve caught you red handed (even if you didn’t do the scraping).
The other type is old email addresses that have had no activity – opens, clicks, opting in, using during a purchase, etc. – for many many years. When you aren’t the one that gathers the addresses, you have no guarantee whatsoever that those new emails are safe. The only way to be 100% sure is the be the primary aggregator of addresses. When you buy a list, the chance of walking into a spam trip goes up 10-fold. Strike two.
Behavior of Recipients
There are many types of email behavior that, once they reach a critical point, could get your IP blacklisted. These include recipients that mark your message as “spam”, bounces, unsubscribe rates, and even lack of behavior like someone that hasn’t opened one of your emails for a while.
Without some interaction with your brand that puts them into your database, purchased lists report emails as spam, bounce, or simply don’t open at a rate much higher than your usual emails. Strike three.
Don’t Be Stupid
Usually, I take Wednesdays to say what I would do. Today, I’m sharing what I would NOT do. When you buy a list, you put the deliverability of your entire database at risk.
You lose consistency, you lose the assurance you’re free from spam traps, and you loose the relevance that drives activity equal to the quality of your lists. The second you buy a list, you’re taking a big risk for a potentially small reward.
S, that’s what I wouldn’t do.
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