“Recently I purchased a mailing list of 100,000 opt-in email addresses. Can I use GroupMail email newsletter software to send email promotions to that mailing list?”

We often get calls and emails from people asking if they can use a rented or purchased mailing list with GroupMail. The short answer is yes. GroupMail is email newsletter software. As such, it is installed on your own computer and you are the only one who has access to your mailing list and messages. Everything is stored locally on your computer; so even if we did not think that 3rd party mailing list acquisition was a good idea, there would be no way for us to know how you acquired your mailing list.

I understand that it is very tempting to acquire an existing mailing list and get a head start on your email marketing reach. After all, building an in-house, double opt-in, permission-based mailing list; while more effective in the long run, takes a lot of time and effort.

I cannot caution people enough about buying or renting mailing lists. Using a mailing list that is not from a reputable mailing list broker can ultimately tarnish your reputation as a sender.

If you do acquire a mailing list from an email list broker, keep this in mind: Reputable mailing list brokers charge per thousand email addresses (CPM). According to Worlddata, the average cost per thousand email addresses (CPM) in 2011 was:

  • Aggregated Database-Business takes the lead this year as the lowest-priced category, with an average list price of $80/M. This is $5 less than the lowest category of Fall 2010, Donors.
  • Permission-Based Medium-Large Business Email files show a straight average CPM of $252/M, the highest-priced domestic category for this quarter.* Read more about the Worlddata 2011 Mailing List Price Index.


So, if someone offers you 1 Million email addresses for $99.95, it probably is too good to be true. Such “cheap” lists will generally cause you more headache than you would like. There will undoubtedly be a high number of old, invalid address and potentially some spamtrap addresses as well. All I can say is “Let the buyer (or renter) beware.”

That said, some email marketers seek to supplement their in-house mailing list, and there are several methods used successfully to augment smaller mailing lists. Jeanne Jennings provides a good overview of four of the most widely used approaches for growing a subscriber base: email appends, compiled lists, list rental and email sponsorship.

Mark Brownlow from email-marketing-reports.com shares some sage advice about mailing list rental in his article, That Bulk Email List is Cheap for a Reason.

“…Your grandmother was right when she said you get what you pay for. There are various reasons why buying email lists is generally patentable as “a bad idea,” as outlined in this article. Renting email lists is an alternative, though there are dark sides to email list rental, too. One of the best ways to spot a scam or just a low-performing rental list is to look at the price…” continue reading

In the end, if you do decide to take the shortcut and acquire a rented or purchased mailing list, do not be surprised if some recipients on your newly rented list consider your email message to be spam. Remember, they did not give you direct permission to contact them and will not be expecting to hear from you. With “Report as Spam” buttons in easy reach of most email recipients today, you will have to weigh the risks associated with this quick approach to mailing list acquisition.


Interested? Get more information about our email newsletter and email marketing software, GroupMail and our email tracking service, Insights.

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