Even though the main area of email marketing advice focuses on building and then sending messages to your own list, there’s also the other side of the business – sending emails to other, third-party lists.

Of course, in order to do that, you have to invest some money. The prices vary a lot and they usually depend on the way the list was built. For example, permission-based lists where the owner has good relationship with their audience are always the most expensive, while aggregated lists tend to be a lot cheaper.

Most often, the payment is made on a “per thousand email addresses” basis for a single send, no matter what list you decide to go with.

The Owner Sends Your Emails

The most common scenario in marketing to third-party lists is that the list owner is the one who sends out the emails, not you. This means that the “from” field presents their name instead of yours.

To be honest, this is an advantage rather than a flaw. Emails sent by the list owner have always a better chance of getting opened and read.

Speaking about ownerships…

Your Own List Is Always Better

If you have your own list, that you have built because of the advice you deliver, and the value you bring to your subscribers then such a list will always perform better than any other list you can buy from a third-party.

The simple fact is that you never know what the quality of the list is. No matter what the owner of the list promises, the reality check can be brutal.

The Best Scenario

Apart from mailing to your own list, the best scenario with third-party lists is reaching out to one of your partners or befriended marketers. If you know them, and to some extent you know how they’re building their lists, you have the best chance of crafting a proper message that has the potential to perform well. So this is where you should search for a list first.

Permission-based Lists

In general, permission-based email lists are better than aggregated or compiled lists.

The main difference is that permission-based lists are built on an opt-in basis, so the person joining has to give the list owner a direct permission to include their name on the list. This gives us good enough reason to believe that such a recipient will be more likely to open any email that the list owner sends them.

Aggregated email lists, on the other hand, are built by extracting names from directories and other publically accessible resources and then just putting them together in an email delivery service.

Here, the owner has absolutely no relationship with their list. Actually, they have probably never heard of them. Such a situation doesn’t give you a good chance of making the campaign profitable, but you can never know for sure unless you try.

Test More Than One List

Basically, you can never know for sure what relationship the owner actually has with their list … even if it’s permission-based. A common practice in list building is to lure people in by offering a huge incentive or a possibility to win a great prize. Even though the list is permission-based, there’s virtually no relationship between the owner and the list whatsoever.

For that reason, you have to test at least 2-3 lists when executing your third-party email campaign. Going with just one list can leave you with no money and no results. Quite frankly, the more you try the better chance you have that something will stick. Don’t go overboard, though. Start with small lists at first.

Is It Worth It?

In the end, you shouldn’t consider email marketing to third-party lists as your main email marketing method. It can support your efforts a great deal, but we still advise you to focus on your own list first, as the pillar of your marketing, and only then search for improvements on other people’s lists.


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