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How Much Does it Cost to Rent an Email List?


An effective and powerful method of marketing is email. We live in a time where email is a major (sometimes even the primary) way people communicate, making it an easy way to reach a wide audience of customers. Whether you are trying to advertise an upcoming sale, new product, or simply let people know about your business, email marketing is cheaper than most other forms of advertising. Many digital marketers start by renting an email list.

When you rent an email list, you pay a third party to send your message to a list of people for you. The list is generally only used once and you never actually see it, the broker handles the entire process. It's more ethical than buying emails, because people on the broker's list have already agreed to receive emails on certain subjects. That means you also get a higher response rate.

Email Renting

Renting an email list is a simple process. Typically, the third party, also known as a broker, agrees to send a certain number of emails. You and the broker determine the date and time the email will be sent, how many people will receive the email, and payment for the service. Once this has been done, you design your email and send it to the list owner, who sends it at the agreed upon time and date.

While the broker doesn't give you the list, they do provide data cards that help you determine how the list performs. It is important that you thoroughly vet list providers to ensure the greatest return on your investment.

Choosing Good Lists Over Bad Lists

The quality of your email list is incredibly important. If you choose a junk email list, you can negatively affect your brand and company, damaging your reputation. Thankfully, there are ways to determine how credible a list broker really is.

First, a list broker should be able to tell you how they built their list. While this information is not usually offered on the data card they provide, if you ask them directly they should be transparent about their methods. Ask if they have a clear "opt-in" option and to see their landing page, or at least a screenshot of it.

The list broker's IP address is an important factor in choosing a good list over a bad one. Has their IP address been blacklisted? This is another thing that sender's do not usually provide, but should be open about when asked. Ask them to send you a sample email, which allows you to verify if they have been blacklisted with the help of tools such as SpamCop.

In addition to blacklisted IP addresses, check to see if the list owner switches IP addresses. There will always be those that unsubscribe from emails or mark them as spam, but if an email list broker is upfront about it that's a good sign. However, if they claim to have no such issues, yet consistently use new IP addresses, it is time to look for a new broker.

Even if the list owner passes all of these checks, it is still a good idea to look into abuse email groups. There are groups dedicated entirely to discussing email abuse on Google Groups. If you find that your potential email list broker's IP address is a part of those discussions, that's a red flag.

How Much Does Renting an Email List Cost?

The cost to rent an email list varies based on factors such as the amount of people on the list, segmentation, and the broker you choose. The cost is usually calculated per thousand impressions (CPM).
  • On average, a targeted email list of 2,500 to 5,000 people costs between $400 and $800 for a consumer list and between $500 and $1,000 for a business list
  • Other costs associated with email renting are based on what all you want to be done. For managing and tracking the emails sent, you can expect an additional cost of $500 to $3,500
There are also email marketing companies that charge a monthly fee for their services. Costs typically start around $15 but can reach hundreds per month. These companies usually allow you to send an unlimited number of emails per month. Regardless of how the list broker charges for their services, remember that the more targeted the list is, the more expensive it will be.

Pros and Cons of Renting an Email List

Pros include:
  • They provide a better response rate, since everyone on the list has already chosen to receive emails with promotional content.
  • You are far less likely to be moved to the spam folder.
  • Renting an email list also comes with a lower upfront cost than if you were to buy one.
Cons include:
  • The long-term cost of renting an email list is far higher than if you were to buy one, especially if you frequently utilize email as a part of your marketing strategy.
  • Since you don't own the list, you don't get to use it or see it.

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