The Bad Content inside Bulk Mailing Lists – Why Not To Buy

So why not to buy or use bulk mailing lists? Emails FlyingLet’s start with a quick definition for the less savvy readers, bulk mailing lists are normally obtained on a CD which you can physically buy, or order online and get it delivered, or digitally download. They contain a lar ge amount of people and companies’ email addresses. As a marketer, you can buy those lists for the purpose of using the email addresses in your email marketing campaign. They normally come in several file formats, spread sheets (MS Excel) is one example.

If you need a professional opinion and you don’t have time to read, don’t buy bulk email lists. If you have time to know why, continue reading. I will be publishing another article soon on the consequences of using such lists, but for now this article discusses the bad content nature of the bulk email lists.

I had a good client who wanted to use our “email sending service” and he wanted to cut a deal in the process. He had a CD of bulk email lists and wanted to use our email marketing software. He basically wanted to get a discount on the service and in return offered us the freedom to use the CD after the campaign. Initially I didn’t agree and I knew I won’t be using the CD but eventually we settled for an agreement, it wasn’t a deal to catch for me but the guy is good and he had a start up company so I wanted to help him out and gain him as a customer since I was running a start up company myself.

First, what’s the catch behind bulk email lists? 

  • They are Cheap and come in big numbers: you can buy a database 1,000,000  contacts for $200
  • They are categorized and targeted: most databases have several levels of categorization/filters such as country/city/industry…
  • They are verified and clean, that’s what the email lists suppliers claim.
  • They have more than just email addresses: such as company names, phone and fax numbers, address…

Second, what’s bad about those lists?

1-Date Validity: the lists can be 5 years old, you can never know if the contacts are new and up-to-date. Many emails on the list might belong to people who are not working at the specified companies anymore. Many companies might be out of business.

2-Emails Format: a good percentage of the emails might have an invalif format and would require lots of hours to fix them. The @ sign or the suffix might be missing. For example: personabc@companycom or Fixing those is a big headache. Lets say the lists you have are around 100 excel files with multiple sheets per file. You will need to run a search/replace query to try to pinpoint invalid formats and fix them.

3-Emails Owners: that’s a main issue, who are the persons mentioned in the lists? are they decision makers? or top level managers? or are they just website admins? you can never know or trust the nature of the contacts.

4-Lists Source: many companies that offer these lists collect the contacts from yellow pages, contact us pages of companies’ websites, and from forward email addresses. Thus most probably the email addresses mentioned in the lists are for website admins who can do you no good at all when they receive your email. Don’t rely that they will forward the email to the designated department, because they won’t.

5-Void Entries and Play on Words: that’s a buster. A list might promise 1,000,000 contacts, but what is a contact? is it a company name and address and phone number, but probably no email address? yes it can be. When taking a quick look at the lists you will find them categorized in excel files/sheets per country, industry and so on… you will find tables of company names and their addresses and email address…. but when you run a search query for empty cells in the email field/column, be prepared for a surprise. Going back to my client’s CD that I mentioned above, it promised 1,000,000  contacts but when I ran the search for void cells, I got 40% empty email addresses cells. In this case the client is left  with yellow pages rather than email lists.

That’s a quick look at the bad nature of bulk email lists, but that’s not the whole story, the bigger damage happens when you use those lists. I’m working on another article presenting the consequences of using those lists on your company. So stay tuned and drop us a visit soon to read about it.

Image: xedos4 /


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