8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts

This is always a hot topic for a number of EmailSnobs and recently there have been a number of heated discussions around the terms Email List Rental, Email Buy and Email Purchase with arguments from both sides ranging from “Don’t buy Ever!”, to “Buying works when it’s done right and well managed”… I’m on the side of the former “buying = spam”.

However, time after time I see the person say buy when they actually mean rent and that is a vastly different discussion. So to help I’ve put together a short list of things to consider when your talking about buying (and you actually mean renting).


1 – Say what you mean:

    Don’t say: Purchase a list of names to send your message to, Email Buy/Purchase vs. Email Rental
    Do say: Rent the content of a list to send your message to

2 – Target your email ad:

    Don’t: Buy any list just to get a larger audience
    Do: Find a complementary publication that can target to an appropriate audience for your message

3 – Accept a list of names:

    Don’t: Let the agent selling the name push you to deploy the advertisements
    Do: Have the agent send the mailing on your behalf

4 – Capitalize on your investment:

    Don’t: Waste time (and $$) talking to these recipients like your normal email members
    Do: Send an engaging message with a strong call to action asking recipients to subscribe, explaining the benefits of your email program – Remember they may not know who you are

List Owners:

1 – Who to rent to:

    Don’t: rent to just anyone – messages should be valuable to your subscribers as well
    Do: Consider the recency and the frequency that you will allow for third party offers to be sent to subscribers, build a schedule and stick to it

2 – Understand your member base:

    Don’t: Assume that this message is good for all members.
    Do: Think about the content and the potential recipients and find the value add and the right audience in your file to make this a Win, Win, Win for all parties involved (Renter, List Owner and most importantly the Recipient)

3 – Data control:

    Don’t: Provide a list of email addresses to a third party for sending
    Do: Manage the deployments for your partners – control the brand and vet the message to be inline with your policies and your subscribers expectations

4 – Provide choice to subscribers:

    Don’t: Assume that all subscribers will want third party messages
    Do: Maintain a separate opt-in and list for rental and house files so your subscribers can choose they types of communications they want to receive.

I’m sure there are a dozen other Do’s and Don’ts about list rental for both the list owner and the renter – Got one? Share it with us in the comments.

Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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  1. Hi Matt!

    I think you have a point about the confusion regarding terminology. I've had more than a few discussions with people where it appeared they were mixing the apples and oranges.

    We @ The eMail Guide would like to invite you and your readers to join our fight against email list selling by joining EMAPP – Email Marketers Association for Puppy Protection!
    You can watch our PSA video and sign up here: http://www.theemailguide.com/email-marketing/ev

    The more we get the word out about the evils of list selling, the better!

    Show your puppy love people!


    Post a Reply


  1. Scott Cohen - RT @EmailKarma: This one is for all you #emailsnob's out there - 8 List rental Do's and Don'ts: http://ow.ly/2gS5G
  2. Jordan Cohen - Nice post Matt --> @EmailKarma: 8 List rental Do's and Don'ts: http://bit.ly/csjUcP
  3. George DiGuido - RT @EmailKarma: This one is for all you #emailsnob's out there - 8 List rental Do's and Don'ts: http://ow.ly/2gS5G
  4. Nick Hofer - RT @gwdbis3: RT @EmailKarma: This one is for all you #emailsnob's out there - 8 List rental Do's and Don'ts:…
  5. Stephanie Miller - RT @EmailKarma: 8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts http://ow.ly/18iN8w (SAM: Good stuff! Nicely said. Never buy!)
  6. Ryan Phelan - RT @StephanieSAM: RT @EmailKarma: 8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts http://ow.ly/18iN8w (Ryan: very well put...and NEVER buy or eappend)
  7. Scott Hardigree - Email List Rental Do's and Don'ts: http://ow.ly/18iN8w (RT @StephanieSAM via @EmailKarma) Scott --> Can't wait to add my 2 cents…
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  10. Stefan Eyram - 8 Email List Rental Do’s & Don’ts (@EmailKarma) http://ow.ly/2hcuC @ClickMail provides proper, permission-based list services incl. Canada.
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  12. Mais AbuSalah - RT @BenchmarkEmail: 8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts http://om.ly/pUsj
  13. John Caldwell - great must-read post from @emailkarma "8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts" http://bit.ly/dsdcsG
  14. Peter Roebuck - Agreed. RT @jacaldwell: great must-read post from @emailkarma "8 Email List Rental Do’s and Don’ts" http://bit.ly/dsdcsG
  15. John Caldwell - killer post! - http://bit.ly/dsdcsG @EmailKarma: @jacaldwell yes i saw that and thx for doing so...
  16. Blake Crone - Email List Rental Do's and Dont's http://bit.ly/dsdcsG / via @EmailKarma
  17. Rental of e-mails: what to do and not do » Marketing Email - [...] Click here find the full article in English on the blog Emailkarma (07/26/2010) [...]

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