Email Lead Generation: Building An Opt-in List Vs. Buying A Rented List


Published by: Brett Malden, VP Innovation + Technology, BrandStar Tech

Email marketing continues to be a vital component of any promotional strategy and is a quick way to reach your audience. Thanks to smart phone technology, we all have access to our email inboxes 24/7 and can check our email messages anytime and anywhere which means your customers and potential customers are merely a finger swipe away. 

The key to reaching them is to first grow your audience and then cut through the hundreds of emails that they are receiving from work, other businesses, competitors, family, and friends. It’s not easy but capturing and growing your audience is a necessary first step. The main question that many of us have is … how?

Growing Your Audience

Your marketing department may have just produced the most creative email blast to ever be seen, but if you’re not sending it to the right people then all of that hard work will go unnoticed. Or worse, your email will be considered spam and sent to the depths of email hell, otherwise known as the junk folder.
Gone are the days of hanging door knockers and handing out flyers to passers by in hopes that they will return at a later time to make a purchase. Social media and technology have revolutionized lead generation and have given us a faster and quicker way to capture those leads, disseminate information, and get the sale, but this also brings up the debate over quality versus quantity. You want the maximum number of leads possible, but you also don’t want to waste your email marketing efforts on junk leads either.
One area, in particular, that receives much debate is whether to build an organic opt-in list or buy a rented list from a third party. There are pros and cons to each. The decision really depends on how much time and resources you have to devote to growing your list. Here are a few things to help you make your decision:

Pros And Cons Of Building An Opt-in List


  • Likeability – An opt-in list consists of people who like you or want to hear more from you. Your opt-in list may be comprised of current customers, former customers, repeat customers or future customers.
  • Permission – An opt-in list is comprised of people who gave you permission to reach out to them again in the future.
  • Acceptance – An opt-in list is not only open to receiving future messages, but they may even be looking out for future sales, events, promotions or new product launches.
  • Owner Privileges – You own the opt-in list and make decisions on what is sent to your opt-in list, when it is sent, and who will receive your email blasts. All email marketing decisions are in your court.


  • Time – Creating an opt-in list takes time and patience to grow and may not yield immediate results or sales.
  • Resources – Depending on the size of your organization, a dedicated person or an entire department may be needed to grow a robust and effective email marketing list. If you’re a one-person show, you may need to consider calling in the experts.
  • Knowledge – Someone on your team will need to be an expert on cleansing and analyzing data and understand the terminology to determine if your open rates and click thru rates are optimal.

Pros And Cons Of Buying Or Renting An Email List


  • Availability – A purchased list is ready to go. You can start your email marketing campaign efforts almost immediately.
  • Saves Time and Effort – A purchased list has been cleansed and the accuracy of email addresses has been verified.
  •  Re-Focus Resources – Using a purchased list allows you to focus your efforts and attention on the day-to-day operations of your organization. Let the experts do their thing so you can do the same.
  • Scaleability – A purchased email list from a third party has the ability to grow quickly, and the resources to continue that growth which will help to increase the reach of future email marketing campaigns.
  • New Customers – A purchased email list allows you to reach a large number of potential customers quickly who may not have been reachable with a more organic marketing approach.
  • Analysis – If you are purchasing a list and utilizing the services that a third party offers, then you have help identifying and streamlining your target market, as well as help to analyze delivery results and overall effectiveness of the email marketing campaign.


  • Ownership – You do not own the list. Someone else does. You may not even be able to see the list of names your email marketing campaigns are targeting and may be going in blind.
  • Non-Exclusivity – A purchased list can also be bought by other companies which means your email marketing campaigns are competing for attention from other businesses, including your competition.
  • Increased Clutter – Because you can’t control the timing or content of other email blasts being sent to this list, you have to hope that your email campaign stands out among the clutter.
  • Quality – The quality of email addresses and how they are obtained is a common concern. If email addresses are collected from an event, sweepstakes or special promotion, they can often be junk email addresses and a waste of email marketing efforts.
  • Fine Print – Beware of the fine print that states “sign up to receive updates from us and our partners that we think you’ll like.” The customer may not like or want to receive your special offers and promotions and will mark your email blast as spam and block your email message which can create larger issues.
  • Reputation – Some third parties, email harvest and use bots or hire low-wage workers to scour the Internet collecting addresses. Some of these companies do not adhere to Internet Service Provider (ISP) guidelines and are more likely to have higher bounce rates, lower open rates and be categorized as spam. When purchasing a list, do your research and choose wisely.

Email Strategy And Knowing When To Ask For Help

Lead generation, whether building an opt-in list or buying a rented list, is an essential first step to any effective email marketing campaign. Once that process is underway, there are a host of other elements to consider, like building effective creative, determining the best email delivery times, identifying the right number of emails to send and analyzing click through and open rates. If you don’t have an entire marketing team devoted to email campaigns, then stick with us at BrandStar where we vow to help you understand and cut through the clutter. We work with you to identify your ideal customer profile and build real-time lists that provide an ongoing source for all of your marketing efforts. To learn more about our lead generation services and strategies, please contact us HERE or call (844) 200-2525.

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