List Rental Is NOT Evil in Email Marketing by Scott Hardigree @indiescott

List Rental is NOT Evil in Email Marketing

List Rental Is NOT Evil in Email Marketing

Frequently maligned and often misunderstood, email list rental is a widely accepted marketing practice that can provide a potent ROI, if you know what to look for and respect the inbox. If you’re unfamiliar or unimpressed with renting an email list here’s the lowdown on the benefits as well as its key differentiating factors and considerations.

Know the difference

Unfortunately legitimate email list rental opportunities have been tarnished by the practices of less-than-stellar providers…be they list compilers, email addresses sellers, or bald-faced liars. None of which are likely to help a marketer’s ROI. Why should it? The email recipients have no relationship with the organization that possesses their email address, and sends your offer.

In my 12 years in email marketing I found that the best opportunities often lie in renting true subscriber lists. That is, branded email lists that are derived from publications, services, or products that the recipient knows, and values.

How it works & key considerations

  • The list owners will send the marketer’s offer to their subscribers.
  • The marketer pays a fee for this service, usually on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis.
  • Unlike direct mail or telemarketing, the marketer never sees the list.
  • Unlike inbound marketing, it’s all about producing a valuable offer, not content.
  • List selection is the most important factor, followed by the offer and the creative.

For marketers

For many marketers email list rental is a consistent means of growing their own subscriber lists, packing their pipelines and of course, making sales directly.  Here are a few benefits:

  • Value of association (with the list owner)
  • Low cost of acquisition (compare to other direct channels)
  • It’s quick (test results and make adjustments in days, not weeks)
  • Better deliverability (Compared to complied and purchased lists)

For list owners

List owners come in many flavors such as retailers, event producers, associations, traditional publishers, and bloggers. All of which can find considerable value in email list rental too, albeit of a different sort.

  • Revenue ($1-2 per subscriber, per year is a good rule of thumb)
  • Control  (what, when, who)
  • Easy (no sales, marketing, billing – if you work with a Professional List Management Company).
  • Hygiene (weed out hard bounces more frequently)

Case in point

Going beyond selecting the right lists, wise marketers are no longer taking the “BUY MY STUFF” approach. Instead list rental campaigns are getting more creative, take a look at this campaign from Surfline and Rip Curl. It’s a great example of how publishers can provide their subscribers with direct access complimentary products, services, or offers, and win their hearts in the process.

The future of email list rental

Email deliverability will continue to be a challenge for marketers who use complied or purchased email lists. In fact, “challenge” is probably too light of a description. And that’s a good thing because it frees up inboxs for more relevant email communications. Besides improved deliverability, legitimate email list rental provides marketers with the opportunity to earn new customers at a fair price, all while respecting the inboxes and mindshare of the list owner’s subscribers. But be wary, the list rental universe is often a dodgy one. Wise marketers and list owners alike should look first to companies that specialize in email lists that originate (and are mailed) from branded and respectable sources.

Takeaway: Email list rental is not in itself evil but, can certainly be bad if done the wrong way. Make sure you do your homework and ask the right questions. A little local knowledge can certainly help you out — speak to the right people becuase a little expert insight goes a long way.

About the author:

Scott Hardigree | Indiemark | @indiescott

As CEO of Indiemark, a full-service email marketing agency, Scott brings more than 12 years of strategic, creative, and technical email marketing expertise to clients seeking to maximize this ROI-rich channel. As a leader in the email industry, Indiemark provides a full array of email marketing services to leading brands looking to retain and monetize existing customers, acquire new customers and subscribers, and create passive revenue streams. Scott can be reached at [email protected] or (407) 614-5952.

Meet the author:

Scott Hardigree

Scott Hardigree

As CEO of Indiemark, a full-service email marketing agency, Scott brings more than 12 years of strategic, creative, and technical email marketing expertise to clients seeking to maximize this ROI-rich channel. As a leader in the email industry, Indiemark provides a full array of email marketing services to leading brands looking to retain and monetize existing customers, acquire new customers and subscribers, and create passive revenue streams. Scott can be reached at [email protected] or (407) 970-9372.

Connect with: Scott Hardigree

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  • Lisa Sparks
    March 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This form of list rental isn’t evil, but the name has been soured by the poor practices of firms only looking to make a quick dollar instead of providing value. Consider to referring to the good list rental as something else such as: – a paid email endorsement, – sponsored emails, – solo ad.

    Use anything but list rental. Just the name implies that I can buy the list and use it for a certain period of time. We know that can land marketers in a world of hurt when it comes to spam reports and reputation issues.

    • Jim Ducharme
      March 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      Very good point! The term has become so damaged from abuse that it conjures all sorts of negativity.

      Great comment and thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Regards,
      Jim

    • Scottt Hardigree
      March 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Solo ads? I like it…a lot!

  • Lisa Sparks
    March 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This form of list rental isn’t evil, but the name has been soured by the poor practices of firms only looking to make a quick dollar instead of providing value. Consider to referring to the good list rental as something else such as: – a paid email endorsement, – sponsored emails, – solo ad.

    Use anything but list rental. Just the name implies that I can buy the list and use it for a certain period of time. We know that can land marketers in a world of hurt when it comes to spam reports and reputation issues.

    • Jim Ducharme
      March 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      Very good point! The term has become so damaged from abuse that it conjures all sorts of negativity.

      Great comment and thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Regards,
      Jim

    • Scottt Hardigree
      March 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Solo ads? I like it…a lot!

  • Garin
    March 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Interesting post Scott!

    I honestly thought that list rental was evil before reading this, but that was because I thought renting a list was like renting trust.

    But by thinking of renting a list as an extension of trust I see how this method could be effective. It’s the buying and selling of lists for the purpose of spamming that is evil.

    Cheers,

    Garin

    • Scottt Hardigree
      March 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Garin. I agree, list purchases or even rental without consist is a big waste of everyone’s time and the marketer’s money.

  • Garin
    March 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Interesting post Scott!

    I honestly thought that list rental was evil before reading this, but that was because I thought renting a list was like renting trust.

    But by thinking of renting a list as an extension of trust I see how this method could be effective. It’s the buying and selling of lists for the purpose of spamming that is evil.

    Cheers,

    Garin

    • Scottt Hardigree
      March 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Garin. I agree, list purchases or even rental without consist is a big waste of everyone’s time and the marketer’s money.

  • Chief eMail Officer
    March 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Hey Scott….great post.

    As you know from our conversation. I struggle day to day with people who have no idea what they are doing about list rental and the proper way to handle this.

    Glad you are able to share some of your insights and experience.

    Jeff

  • Chief eMail Officer
    March 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Hey Scott….great post.

    As you know from our conversation. I struggle day to day with people who have no idea what they are doing about list rental and the proper way to handle this.

    Glad you are able to share some of your insights and experience.

    Jeff

  • Gorica Cajko
    April 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

    It’s so true that lists rental services are not trusted due to past misuses. Working for a company with a division that provides a list service to help organizational marketing efforts, we often hear “what do you mean lists?” or “we don’t want to spam people”. Sometimes it is difficult to overcome those misconceptions and explain that the whole process is controlled by a service bureau and we provide only clean and relevant lists.

    I wonder how we can change these preconceptions and what we can do to clear the List Rental name!?

    Regards,
    Gorica

    • Scottt Hardigree
      April 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Gorica – I think (hope) that improved spam filtering by the ISPs will clear the way for legitimate list rental, but only time will tell. In the meantime. I like Lisa’s idea of simply rebranding the offers, ala “Solo Ads”.

  • Gorica Cajko
    April 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

    It’s so true that lists rental services are not trusted due to past misuses. Working for a company with a division that provides a list service to help organizational marketing efforts, we often hear “what do you mean lists?” or “we don’t want to spam people”. Sometimes it is difficult to overcome those misconceptions and explain that the whole process is controlled by a service bureau and we provide only clean and relevant lists.

    I wonder how we can change these preconceptions and what we can do to clear the List Rental name!?

    Regards,
    Gorica

    • Scottt Hardigree
      April 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Gorica – I think (hope) that improved spam filtering by the ISPs will clear the way for legitimate list rental, but only time will tell. In the meantime. I like Lisa’s idea of simply rebranding the offers, ala “Solo Ads”.

  • merle
    July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Scott,
    Thank you for the post. Everyone is bashing buying or renting email list but i think like everything else, there are pros and cons. It is about proper research.

  • merle
    July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Scott,
    Thank you for the post. Everyone is bashing buying or renting email list but i think like everything else, there are pros and cons. It is about proper research.

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