3dollarsWhat can you buy with $3 these days? You might just get a tall (small) filter coffee from Starbucks. Or if you are hungry, an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s. My point is, $3 doesn’t go very far.

But a $3 purchase could prove to be a really expensive mistake in email marketing if you are looking for a quick win.

I recently received a DM via Twitter offering me direct access to an email list of 10,000 active female consumers for only $3.

Now, I know what you are thinking. It all sounds too good to be true, but if just one or two of those emails convert into a sale, I’ve got my money back – right? Wrong!

First things first: I’m not a betting man, but I would put money on that list delivering 0% return on investment.

But you’re still thinking: It’s only $3, so it’s worth a punt – right? Wrong!

Successful email marketing is built on the back of the permission a subscriber has given you to contact him or her with relevant, timely and engaging email marketing messages. Even if these 10,000 email address are current (and remember, the average email address has a lifespan of 18 months), you have no relationship with these users and therefore no permission.

In short, any marketer downloading this list and proceeding to send to it would be engaging in spam. At iContact (and any other reputable email marketing service provider) we don’t like spam.

Sending to a list like this would set alarm bells ringing as emails bounced all over the place and spam complaints flooded in. Make no mistake: As it is against our terms and conditions to upload purchased lists, this would put your account at risk.

Because spam damages the reputation of the industry we work in and has the potential to damage the results of email marketers that play by the rules, we take spam very seriously and will freeze and close the accounts of anyone who engages in the practice.

Could you afford to lose access to your email marketing account? Do you have the time to find another system, upload your lists, templates, etc.? That $3 offer might sound cheap, but it will be the most expensive thing you do all week if you fall for it.

Now go spend that $3 on a coffee. You might need the extra kick it gives you when your next professionally managed email marketing campaign delivers all that extra business.

This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo credit: Guru Sno Studios