The Dangers of Buying Data

by Sophie Daniline - December 03, 2018
The Dangers of Buying Data

Growing your list of mailable contacts is a marketers dream. There are some healthy, organic ways to do this and some disastrous ones. Today I’m going to focus on the worst; buying data. Before you embark upon this potentially expensive and damaging journey, here are some reasons why you may want to reconsider.

You’re non-compliant under GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European data privacy act that came into force in May 2018. It really focuses on the opportunities that an individual has to opt in and out of communications. This isn’t only email specific, and really hones in on how digital marketers use customer data across email, web and social channels. This also applies even if your company is not based in Europe; if your recipients are Europe based, they are covered under GDPR.

Purchased data lists are not compliant as the people you are contacting have not opted in to receiving communications from you. Before GDPR came into effect, you could simply add an opt-out into your email templates – but this method is no longer the only thing you’re legally required to do under GDPR. Now, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to be able to send them emails. For example, a person must click to opt in to an email subscription… and that checkbox cannot be pre-ticked. When you buy a data list, no such permission has been granted, meaning you are automatically non-compliant with GDPR.

You’ll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation

If you purchase an email list, you have no way of confirming where they originated from, if they are going to cause you high bounce rates, or how often the email addresses have been emailed. If the data isn’t clean, you are risking your email deliverability and also damaging your reputation. Once you damage your IP reputation it can be really tricky to re-build (we’re potentially talking months to years).

You can damage your brand

Aside from the technical damage to your reputation, you will be at risk of damaging brand perception. If you start emailing people who have never heard of you, never agreed to receive communications from you, you will end up weakening your brand image.

Your email service provider can penalise you.

If your email provider gets wind of how bad your data is, they may choose to penalise you. The severity of this will vary from provider to provider but I’ve seen providers freeze peoples accounts when their bounce rates are consistently too high – the provider has some stake in the game as it’s their IP reputation you are damaging, and they don’t want to be associated with accounts that recipients repeatedly flag as spam.

So what can you do to grow your database without purchasing data? With Christmas approaching fast, why not give yourself an early gift and learn about winning more business organically.

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