When you’re just starting out, you want to feel as if you are doing all that you can to grow your customer base. Stories like Harry’s gathering 100,000 email sign ups in one week are inspiring, but can also send you frantically searching Google with keywords such as “how can I grow my contact list overnight?”. Of all the growth hacks you might come across, buying an email list might seem like the quickest guarantee to a booming email audience. But remember – no valuable relationship can ever be bought. Think of your friendships, built on shared memories and private jokes, common interests and trust. You need to invest time and effort in growing these, and the same applies to customer relationships.

Buying an Email List Can Hurt Your Sender and Company Reputation

Imagine you’ve bought a list. You have all these email addresses at your fingertips. However, it’s likely these contacts have had their addresses mined from the web by spambots and are probably already being bombarded by other buyers. Even if they haven’t put filters in place, it won’t take much for them to send your email flying straight from the inbox into the SPAM folder.

Buyable email lists are also likely to include SPAM traps – email addresses set up by by ISPs to catch spammers. There are many types of SPAM traps but they typically fall into two larger categories – recycled spam traps and pure spam traps. A recycled trap is an email address that is repurposed after a long period of inactivity, whereas a pure spam trap is an address created by the ISP.


However they are generated, SPAM complaints can greatly damage your sender reputation. Initially, your deliverability will be affected, and when your reputation drops below a certain threshold, you may have to face consequences such as your IP address being blacklisted or legal action.

Another consequence is the damage to your company reputation. Web forums and social media networks are the perfect vectors for the transmission of the deadly message that you are a spammer. To paraphrase the old adage, it takes a lot of work to build up a reputation and only a few unhappy customers to demolish it.

Organic Relationships Take Hard Work

There are many ways to grow your customer base organically, some of them quicker than others, but ultimately there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Always test, track and compare your campaigns to improve engagement. A good first step you should always consider is to promote your email program through all of your other marketing channels.

Social. Encourage social media followers to subscribe using Twitter lead gen cards. Add a sign up button to your Facebook page and CTAs to your Youtube videos.

Website. Add opt-in widgets to your blog pieces. Offer subscribers access to exclusive resources, such as a free eBook. Leverage social proof by showing how many subscribers there are to your newsletter and emphasizing this on your website, blog and landing pages.

Offline. Ensure that your print materials, including pamphlets and business cards, draw attention to your email program and the benefits of subscribing.


You can even have your email list grow itself. Make your emails shareable with referral incentives, cross-pollination with social media, and of course – quality content. Readers will normally share content they find interesting and useful, driving wider exposure to your brand through WOM.

Buying an email list may seem like an easy shortcut, but your customer base can grow just as quickly using these organic methods. The hard work will pay off in the long-term, as you’re building a relationship with your customer based on understanding, mutual interest and, most importantly – trust.

Definitely the way to go for avoiding turbulence on your journey to long-term success.

Do you have any tips for growing your customer base organically? If you have a brilliant piece of advice to share, leave a comment below!

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