Making the best out of a bad situation (purchased email lists)

It’s no secret – purchased email lists do not work.  But let’s also face another hard fact, there are times when we have to use them even against our better judgment.  We can explain to “that person” the cold hard facts as many times as the waves hit the sand–but it doesn’t matter, sometimes situations are simply out of our control or influence.

Why you should never purchase an email list (Email Marketing Tips Blog, by Maciej Buchowski)

So rather than complain and moan about the ethics and proven (lack of) results of cold email lists, I’d like to offer some ideas about how to make the best of the campaigns we know are doomed to underperform.

Every time you buy an email list, a puppy dies (Theemailguide.com, posted by CHIEF EMAIL OFFICER)

1. Develop a secondary goal

Regardless of what primary goal is you are forced to attempt to achieve, also make a secondary and more realistic target, such as enticing targets to click on a more general offer–maybe a newsletter sign up or join a Linkedin group.

Can I use a purchased email list? (The Mail Chimp Blog, posted by Ben)

2. Consider a video as a secondary offer

You are sending this campaign or email to a large group of people that probably never heard of you and/or don’t want to be bothered.  Those that don’t want to be bothered will either delete you or unsubscribe.  But there is a chance that those that have not exterminated you might actually read the email.


Your email will have a primary goal or a call to action which they might not be interested in.  As discussed above, it might also be a good  idea to provide a secondary option–by way of a mini commercial, explaining in a soft way what you do, your core mission, and why you are relevant today–remember, you are under the assumption these people have no idea who you are.  Video is a powerful way of grabbing attention, and really–if you could get them to watch a video prior to deleting, you’ve done something right.  But make sure to include a form to capture their information.

Why purchasing a cold email list is always a bad idea (it’s because a kitten dies) (Hubspot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog, posted by Posted by Corey Eridon)

3.  Plan in advance

You know its coming.  During the year, you know somebody will want to target a segment and might purchase some huge bulk list or maybe several.  Think ahead–you have an idea what’s coming because your company might do this often or did it the year before.  It might be best if you partner with a 3rd party media outlet and do a joint campaign in advance, focusing on a particular segment or geography – or whatever the purchased list you anticipate is coming will be for.  This way, you will have some good leads off the bat that you could add to the purchased list and maybe even hit the lofty primary goal set for the campaign.

Your email campaigns are doomed……… (Mequoda Daily Blog, By Chris Sturk)

I know this topic goes against all the right advice and best practices, but lists happen.

Avoiding the purchased list email marketing trap (iContact, The Official Blog, Written By
James Wong)

I’m sure there are some other good ideas to save a campaign.  But the theme here is that you know its coming, therefore, plan for it.  Proper planning will yield better results.

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