5 Reasons Buying a List is a Bad Idea (and One Reason It’s Not)


5-Reasons-Buying-a-List-is-a-Bad-Idea-and_One_Reason_Its_Not.jpgIt’s one of the oldest marketing catch-22 situations out there: you need a list of people to send your marketing materials to, but you need to market more to get a list of people who are interested in your product or service.

When you’re stuck in that sort of situation, it can be tempting to buy or rent a list, if only to get the ball rollingand to start getting your brand out there. However, while this is tempting, it’s also nearly always a bad idea, and we’ve got several good reasons for you to avoid this tactic.

1. There’s No Guarantee the List Is Accurate

When you buy or rent a list from a company, you’re relying on them to maintain that list, but you have no idea whether or not they do. If not, you may be sending out marketing materials to outdated addresses or customers who have long since moved.

2. Renting a List Ties You to One Company

While buying a list is a bad idea, renting a list is worse.While you get access to the list, you never actually own the information, and if you want to keep using the list, you have to keep paying for the privilege.

3. There’s No Guarantee You’ll Reach Your Target Market

When you build your own list, you’re going to be attracting people who fall into your target market. They may live in a certain area, they may have expressed interest in your products and services or they may have bought from you before. The one constant is this: you know they’ll – at the very least – be interested in what you have to say.  That’s huge when it comes to direct mail marketing.

4. You’re Not Alone

When you buy or rent a list, you can be sure there are many other companies out there buying the same list, and that means there’s even more competition vying for your potential customers’ attention. In other words, you’re sending mail to people who don’t know you, don’t necessarily fall into your target market and are probably getting lots of other mail from companies just like yours. Not exactly a situation that hints at major success.

5. Your Message May Be Seen as Junk Mail

We’ve all gone to the mailbox, received something that has no bearing on our lives and tossed it in the trash without even hesitating. Unless you have a killer offer and the most compelling message out there, you may well find that your mail to a rented or purchased list falls into this category, and it’s not a good place to be.

One Reason to Consider Buying a List

Of course, while there are many reasons not to buy or rent a list, there is one reason why you might want to consider it.

If you know you have a compelling offer that will generate near universal interest and you are pressed for time, purchasing a list may be a risk worth taking. You should still recognize that you’re likely to get lower responses than you might if you built your own list, but if you’re in a hurry, it may be a good way to kick-start your direct mail campaigns.

Even if you do choose to buy or rent a list as a temporary fix to meet your direct mail campaign goals, it should not be a long-term solution. Keep working toward creating your own list, or use the data you get from your purchased list to determine the best areas for every-door delivery. Make sure you use a reputable list from a well-known company, too, or you may be paying for outdated information!

Direct Mail Best Practices