Should home contractors buy email lists? Probably not.

Make a list, check it twice

Home contractors are busy people. We work with many home contractors, including electrical and HVAC contractors, to help manage their digital marketing, and we know that their marketing can go by the wayside as they concentrate on the important business of keeping customers happy.

Still, email marketing can be very effective, and many home contractors are approached by businesses selling email lists as a way to jump-start this process — promising all sorts of success. It seems like a quick and easy solution. But buying an email list to save time and money is not much different from a homeowner taking shortcuts: Cutting corners costs you more money than it saves.

Buying email lists is a bad idea

Buying an email list is just like buying followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook. It looks great up front, but the returns aren’t really what you would expect them to be. Having a lot of email addresses in your database may make you look popular, but if no one on the list actually calls you or buys from you, what’s the point?

Deleting Email
You don’t want your email to end up here.

The problem with buying lists

So, what exactly is wrong with purchased lists? Several things.

Quality is poor at best.

The quality of purchased email lists is notoriously low. Many of the addresses are typically outdated, or are general email addresses such as “,” which basically only receives your email in a junk drawer, never to be opened. Some people even recommend that people keep up to four active email addresses, including one just for spam. If your bought list has nothing on it but the equivalent of other people’s email junk drawers, the email you send will have very little, if any, return on the investment you’ve made.

You might be sharing lists with your competition.

Remember that the people selling you this email list are selling it to lots of others as well, meaning the email addresses on the list are soon going to be blanketed with spam and junk emails from marketers all over the country.

The chances of your email list yielding results for your home contracting business go down with every other purchase of that same list.

In fact, many of those people being flooded with spam may already be setting up filters to block your email. Good luck winning new business down this path.

Buy Email List Spam

Bought email addresses cause problems with your email service provider.

Reputable email service providers have a good reputation because they have worked hard to maintain it. They ensure delivery of email into inboxes, rather than into spam filters. Having your email marked as spam constitutes a black mark, and if you are using a purchased list with a high bounce/spam rate, you can be “blocklisted” — all of your emails (and all emails from your IP address) will automatically go into many spam filters or never be delivered at all.

Reputable email service providers (ESPs) won’t let you upload bought lists because their whole business depends on deliverability and the dependability of their service.

You could be fined.

The Federal Trade Commission has a list of rules required for commercial business messages. You can download their guide for business email through their website. Violations of the CAN-SPAM Act can cost up to $16,000 per message; even if only 100 messages are sent and found in violation, that could result in a fine of $160,000. Not to mention, most purchased lists have many more addresses than that.

What should home contractors do?

Building your email list over time is an important part of your business as a home contractor. It’s an asset that will give you permission to contact people who want to hear from you — as long as you don’t abuse the privilege. These folks are likely to become your biggest advocates. All you have to do is ask for permission during the course of regular business. (And be sure to check out this Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Email List.)

Remember, as a home contractor, people are trusting you to help them with their largest single asset: their home. Gaining their trust and keeping it is critical for your business — and for your reputation across the community.

You don’t want to get a reputation as a spammer just like you wouldn’t want to have a reputation for shoddy work.

So, build your own email list over time. And use a reputable email service provider to help you build your own quality email list of customers and potential customers. It can grow into a very valuable business asset, and it’s not worth taking shortcuts to get there.

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Image by: Owen P via / CC BY