Should You Buy Targeted Email Lists to Reach More Customers?


When you search “should you buy targeted email lists” on Google, here are two of the first results you’ll see:

Google results for “should you buy targeted email lists” show differing opinions.

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Well that doesn’t do much to clear things up!

It’s safe to say the jury’s out on third-party targeted email lists and whether or not companies should buy them. But if you’re trying to decide, you need to know who’s right.

Should you buy them or should you not? Are targeted email lists a marketing asset or are they an unnecessary risk?

The short answer: it depends.

There are times when it might make sense to purchase a targeted email list, and times when it’s really not necessary. If you are going to purchase a list, there are definite considerations to keep in mind to ensure it’s high-quality.

In this article we’re going to explore all of the above and more. Let’s dive in.

Quick Takeaways

  • Buying targeted email lists means adding new contacts sold by independent data providers.
  • Targeted lists can expand your reach, help fill your pipeline, and accelerate lead generation.
  • There are also drawbacks to purchased lists, including unqualified contacts, potential spam flagging, and lower engagement.
  • Targeted email list providers should always be fully vetted for reputation and list quality.
  • The best long-term growth strategy is organic.

What’s the deal with purchased email lists?

We know that email marketing is one of the most important parts of every outbound marketing strategy. Companies launching a new outbound effort or looking to boost the results of a current campaign may consider purchasing a targeted email list. In short, these lists are sold by independent data providers and include names, phone numbers, and email addresses of contacts who could be strong potential leads for your company.

Email list providers aim to sell targeted lists that align with the criteria companies have for their ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. The value proposition is that these lists can help you expand your email reach, generate new leads, and grow your business. But it isn’t as simple as that. Privacy laws, ethics, and data reliability all come into play when you’re buying targeted email lists.

When you buy them from a reputable source and use them effectively, targeted lists can be a win. But there are pitfalls that can occur, which is why so many warnings exist about going this route.

Let’s look at both sides of the debate — first the benefits, then the drawbacks of buying targeted email lists.

Benefits of buying targeted email lists

Expanded reach

A new contact list increases the reach of your campaign and captures new potential audiences. If you’re focused on growth, a purchased targeted email list can be a way to quickly build out your list for more engagement and to boost lead generation.

Fuller pipeline

The more contacts that see your marketing messages, the more leads you’re able to generate for your pipeline. A full pipeline has a trickle-down effect — you’ll earn more leads, which turn into more prospects, which turn into converted sales (if you’re executing effectively).

Accelerate lead generation

Even if your organic outbound efforts have been successful, they might not be earning results as quickly as you’d like. Targeted email lists can be a way to accelerate your lead generation and give it a boost when you’re under time constraints (i.e. lead-up to a new product launch, promoting an event, etc.).

Time and cost savings

List building for outbound lead generation takes time and resources. Targeted email lists can save you some of the time and cost associated with building lists organically.

Drawbacks of buying targeted email lists

Contacts won’t be qualified

If you’re purchasing a quality targeted email list from a reputable source, the contacts on it will have given permission for their information to be shared. But — that doesn’t mean they’re familiar with your brand. As such, they aren’t really qualified leads to pursue. In general, you’ll have better results when the contacts on your list have been generated by your own website, emails, and other outbound efforts.

Increased chance of being marked as spam

The average professional receives 120+ emails every day. Understandably, then, people don’t like to receive messages they didn’t ask for. They often even report unfamiliar messages as spam. If email providers recognize you’re being regularly marked as spam, they could blocklist your domain, leading to bigger problems for your email campaigns.

Lower engagement rates

Even though you’re expanding your reach by buying targeted email lists, you could see lower engagement rates overall. Why? Because the people on your purchased list don’t know your brand — at least not at first. Even if your messages are compelling, you might see a dip in engagement metrics like open rates and click-through rates until new contacts familiarize with your brand.

So… should you or shouldn’t you?

So what’s the verdict? Should you buy targeted email lists? Most of the time, no. Studies show that businesses care most about building email list quality over quantity, and they’re right — the best lists are built organically over time.

Brands care more about increasing list quality than quantity.

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That said, there are times when it makes sense to purchase them if you want to boost reach for a particular event or initiative. In those cases, it’s important to vet your list provider and be sure the contacts you’re receiving are truly interested in your offerings and fit into your target audience.

The takeaway: over the long term, organic growth is best. It’s fine to purchase a list occasionally if you want to give a specific initiative a boost. But the smartest strategy for growing your business is to know your audience, build it over time, and seek genuine engagement from those who have shown interest specifically in your brand.

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.