The bottom line

As an email service provider striving to provide our customers the highest level of email deliverability possible, SendGrid does not allow sending to email lists that are purchased, rented, or acquired from 3rd party sources without the explicit consent of every recipient on that list. This policy is intended to protect both our business and your own.

Why should you care?

Purchased lists are almost always of poor quality. They are plagued with old addresses, and often contain spam traps or honeypots. Sending to these lists will result in only a fraction of your emails being successfully delivered, with an even a smaller fraction being opened. We say disinterested recipients because recipients on a purchased list have not opted into receiving your marketing emails.

In addition to the short term impacts of purchased recipient lists, sending email to purchased lists that contain spam traps and honey pots can have a long term negative impact on your sender reputation. It may take months, even years, to rebuild a positive sending reputation.

Sending email to purchased lists gives your business a bad reputation.

If you were to receive someone else’s emails without ever having heard of or signed up for their products or services, wouldn’t you be a little bit peeved? Nowadays, everyone has a lot to keep track of— especially concerning email. Extra, unsolicited marketing email is just a nuisance.

The optimal way to grow your business via email is to build a community of people who have explicitly expressed interest in your service or product by submitting their email address voluntarily.

Why do we care?

We care about your business. As part of our mission to make email better, we want you and your business to succeed by maximizing the effectiveness of the emails that you trust us to deliver.

Our reputation suffers with yours. Since we provide the IP space for your email to be sent on, your sending has a direct impact on our own industry reputation. When your email is sent with negative results, we are then burdened with a poor reputation as well. We strive to maintain excellent relationships with ISPs and other partners in the email industry in order to provide you the best email deliverability possible, but in order to do this we must set high standards and firm requirements for the quality of email that we agree to send.

Ultimately, sending to purchased lists hurts your deliverability and our reputation. Consequently, the deliverability and reputation of other SendGrid users is harmed as well.

Alternatives to purchased recipient lists

Every time a sender breaks our Terms of Service by purchasing a list, the justification is always the same: “to grow their recipient list.” This is understandable, since senders rarely have malicious intent the list advertisers make it sound like the recipients are genuinely interested.

Gaining exposure to potential buyers and promoting products is essential to the success of any business, but doing so via purchased recipient lists won’t work. To put it simply, sending promotional emails to these lists is spamming.

A common misconception is that the greater quantity of recipients means greater results. The truth is that quality is the anthem of success. A list full of engaged and excited recipients will yield a sender far better results. However, customers’ attention cannot be bought; it must be earned.

How to grow a healthy recipient list with great results

  1. The closest alternative is co-registration with relevant partner ventures. This is basically promoting your own site or organization through the opt-in process of similar businesses. This should be done clearly and explicitly in the opt-in process as opposed to a small pre-checked box that demonstrates their interest in your organization. Explicit opt-in will always yield the best results.

  2. Get out there and promote. This could be a sign up in a store or through a conference of people that are already interested in your area of work. Think about where the people that could be interested and go to them. But be wary of handwritten sign up forms or verbal exchanges which are often plagued with typos or illegible addresses. This puts the sender in danger of sending to email addresses that are uninterested in their content as well as causing the sender to miss out on possible interest in what they are promoting. A better alternative is to have electronic sign ups on a computer or some sort of electronic device.

    That said, the more easy and accessible the opt-in form, the more likely people are to sign up. Keep it simple and be clear as to what you are going to be sending. Make your registration form stand out, people should not have to search for it. Remember to keep it secure with these tips.

  3. Think about what your expertise is and share it by writing an e-book! This is a great way to inform people about your industry and what you might have to offer them.

  4. Try mobile! Try putting in a separate opt-in on your website where people can opt-in to text or SMS alerts for new deals or promotions that you have.

  5. Facebook is another great way to promote your business. Set up a Facebook page to connect with your recipients and promote in fun ways like contests and giveaways. Reward your loyal followers. Put a email registration form on your page to strengthen your connection. Make sure that there are benefits to joining the email list such as a personal birthday promotion.

  6. Make it easy for your fans to promote your organization. Add a simple form to your website where fans can send an invite or just let their friends know about what you have to offer. But first, swing by our guidelines to make sure that your campaign will be done safely and successfully.

  7. Keep your content captivating. Think about who you are sending to and what they would be interested in. The key to successful promotion is to find the people that will be excited about what you offer. Those are the people that spread your ideas. Seth Godin released a helpful checklist to run through every time an email is sent that will help you make sure you deliver great content.