A Complete Guide to Email List Rental

Email is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. But it can be difficult and expensive to build a large email list. So you may have considered email list rental, but you don’t know where to start.

So let’s take a deep-dive look into:

  • What are email list rental best practices?
  • What happens when you rent email list data?
  • Should you be renting email lists, or are there better marketing options?
  • Could deciding to purchase email lists be better for your business in the long term?

But first, lets define what email list rental is exactly.

What is email list rental, and how does it work?

Email list rental is when you send your message to a list of email addresses held by another company. Typically it’s paid and for one-time only, but you can rent a list for multiple send-outs. 

Consider – you’ve got a big event coming up or a brand new product launch. You’ve been working hard on your in-house marketing email lists, but they’re not growing as fast as you like. How can you reach more customers quicker than waiting for organic list growth?

Well, you probably thought about renting an email list that has thousands of contacts. Sending your message to new consumer or business inboxes is like the digital cold call of today. 

So is email list rental the best thing since sliced bread? Hell no! It’s often a disaster waiting to happen, but more on that later in this article.  

The difference between buying and renting email lists

There is a big difference between buying email lists and list rental.

Rented vs in house email usage chart

When you purchase email lists, you become the owner of the data. You receive all the data it contains to market to as you wish and as often as you like. You will also have complete control over the individual email addresses.

Seems too good to be true? Because it is. Buying an email list can be disastrous to your email marketing and email deliverability. Bought lists are often of very low quality and can include spam traps. And there is no saying how many marketers have bought the same list before you did.  But most importantly, the recipients didn’t ask to be contacted by you.

When you rent email lists, you don’t get the email addresses. Your data provider will send the email promotion in your name with their email service provider. It’s like in-email advertising. Your marketing team can sometimes even design and create the whole message. Once the campaign is completed, the email list providers will show you the results.

When you rent email lists you don’t get direct access to the email data. So you won’t see a list of names and email addresses of potential leads. Instead, you will receive data cards with information about the list you’ll send to. These data cards give insights into how your selection may perform and the costs.

Once subscribers convert into leads and become your existing customers, they of course we become part of your own list.

The benefits of renting email lists

When renting email lists, you must do it with a great deal of care. Many email marketing services don’t allow buying email lists or even renting email lists. Experts typically don’t recommend renting a list. Because it’s so tricky to get right, you can end up in the spam folder and it’s not allowed everywhere. 

There are set laws that control how businesses can get emails. But as long as the list comes from a trustworthy source, there might be some advantages to renting an email list. Although the benefits often don’t outweigh the issues that email list rental can bring. 

1. Get those results, fast

Building a list of subscribers can take a long time and effort. To collect addresses, you need to provide value to the potential recipients.

But even more important, your visitors need to trust you enough to share their emails. Email list rental can bring in those results much faster. It’s no replacement for your own email list, but a list rental campaign can be set up within days, rather than months. 

Measuring the results of your campaign is essential. Rental email lists brokers will provide the marketing data from the campaign. You should receive metrics for your open and click-through rates, as well as soft and hard bounces. Analytics helps adjust the content and audience. So you could get better results in the next campaigns.

A reputable email broker will often provide more information than you’d first expect. With some, you might need to press them for extra data.

2. Target your audience and personalize

Every reputable email list publisher should follow international data laws. That means that “data collection” doesn’t mean scraping addresses. Often the contacts include profile, business and preference information to segment your list on. 

Choose opt-in email lists with recipients that have shown previous interest in a similar product. Or even work within the chosen industry or area of expertise.

3. Additional conversions and access to a fresh audience

It’s true that email marketing offers great ROI. And it’s still the preferred method of contact for customers.

Renting an email list can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Costs vary with the size of the list, region and demographics and targeting. You might be able to tap into an audience that you haven’t reached before.

A rented email list of cold leads might bring some new customers. If you can turn those conversions into repeat customers, ROI increases.

4. Delivery is managed for you

Unlike buying a list, the publisher or broker will carry out the email delivery on your behalf. This allows them to keep their list data secure. It’s one less issue to worry about on your end, but this means you have no control over the final look! 

Making the most out of a rented email list

If you only get one delivery to an email broker’s list, make sure you get the best of it. Here are 5 tips to maximize your results from list rental.

1. Use B2B and B2C lists with an interest in your product or service

Ask your list provider if they’ve worked with similar brands to yours in the past. If they have, chances are the audiences have a stronger connection to your product. Knowing that recipients agreed to get content from a similar business confirms a match with your product.

Part two of that is the subscription source of the recipients. Understanding how those emails were collected is helpful in creating the content. Ask what kind of publisher(s) collected the emails.  

2. Create content especially for cold leads

You have to pick out the best subject lines and creative content for cold leads. It’s more challenging to create an email that would wow someone who’s never heard of you than creating your typical newsletter. This audience doesn’t know you or your products, so you will need to go that extra mile to convert. Remember to never over-promise and under-deliver! Build trust by providing exactly what you have proposed first in the subject line.

Of course, you can stand out in a crowded inbox with a catchy subject line. But once the email is open you need to convert the lead with your email content or offer.

Pro tip: Test on your organic audience! If you selected your rental list based on the info of your own subscribers, it’s good to validate your email campaign ideas first. On the people you know that did engage with your content in the past. There is a high chance that the same or very similar content will work on the new audience. Measure both open rates and click rates to see how your subject line and email content convert.

3. Use a dedicated landing page fit for purpose

Your landing page has to match the value promise in your email. Make sure that they’re driven to your call to action, without much distraction. Landing page builder software is handy to quickly start based on pre-made templates.

Getting your audience to click is only part of the battle; securing a sale or conversion is next. Dedicated landing pages are way more focused on just that goal. 

Landing page example for email collection

4. Use remarketing and track for smart follow up

By capturing a new visitor’s data, you open up more chances to make a sale.

Use cookies for remarketing with ad networks and remarketing tools on social media. Having them sign up for a newsletter or special offer to add them to your in-house email lists is even better. What you don’t want is to waste their visit.

Build separate landing pages to track each campaign. It doesn’t matter if you choose email addresses or cookies to remarket with. You must have an option to keep presenting yourself to your newly acquired leads.

5. Convert your leads to sales as well as data

Ultimately, the exercise is to create conversions and boost sales. You can test your emails and landing pages to find the best performers. Pick those that drive conversion.

Knowing who your ideal customers is and what they want is essential. It gives you a chance to draw attention to how your product solves their problems.

Use interesting content and images. Present the easy fix to their pain. What makes your product irresistible?

What are the problems with renting email lists?

There are plenty of pitfalls when it comes to email list rental. Email list rental isn’t recommended at all by email deliverability experts. It’s super easy to ruin your brand name, plus it can bring legal consequences. That is why if you feel that you have to rent an email list, choosing a reliable email list broker is essential.

1. There are a lot of unreliable, low-quality providers in the market

It won’t surprise you that there are email list providers that sell bad email lists. Bad lists for instance contain low-quality or non-existent addresses. Often scraped from the web without the recipient’s permission.

Delivering email campaigns to illegally sourced addresses can result in hefty fines. Depending on where you’re marketing, you should check the regulations in your region. Find out what are the possible legal consequences and fines. 

For example, the CAN-SPAM act controls the law behind commercial email in the States. Email marketers should be fully aware of their local legislation. This will allow you to put together campaigns for best-practice delivery.

Legal regulations about renting and buying emails in different zones

2. Irrelevant subscribers can damage your brand and email deliverability rates

Reputable rental list providers offer many options and methods to filter recipients. Make sure you’re sending to businesses and consumers that are interested in your product or industry.

Sending emails to recipients with no interest? The only result is damage to your brand. Your campaign will have low open and click rates and a high complaint rate. Selling to those with no interest doesn’t just waste your time and money. It damages your sender and brand reputation.

3. You could be using the same lists as your competition

It might be a stretch to think you’re on the same wavelength as your competitors. But it’s not out of the question that their marketing team has considered the same options as yours.

If you’re both sending to the same lists, you could already be blocked by many recipients. Will they show interest in your message if their inbox is already packed with similar offers? Also, if your competitors have got in first, your recipient might no longer need your product. 

4. You can be reported as a spam sender

Remember to verify how the email list provider delivers your campaign. They could damage your sender reputation if they don’t follow email sending best practices. The higher the spam complaint rate, the worse it is for your email deliverability. Spam reports from email addresses will bump up alarming numbers. Too many hard bounces and low click rates will also impact your sender score. 

How do I rent an email list? 5 steps

There are plenty of vendors and email list brokers who will happily take your money. It’s up to you to pick out a reputable and worthwhile provider. How do you do that? 

Here’s a list of essential checks to carry out before signing on the dotted line.

1. Is your provider on sender IP blacklists?

Most providers won’t automatically tell you a lot of the information you need. You’ll have to ask them or find out for yourself. One key area is if they are regularly blacklisted or even recently. Find a blacklist check tool to carry out a little IP address research on each of your possible providers.

2. Are they on email abuse groups or forums?

Email marketers debate about industry practices on email abuse groups and forums. These have a lot of information on email abuse. If the providers you’re considering appear on any of these, you should look into why.

There could be a genuine reason for where they fell short, so don’t write them off straight away. But, where there’s smoke, there’s often fire…

3. How often do they switch IP addresses?

Each provider likely operates using several IP addresses. That isn’t always a sign that they’re acting irresponsibly or illegitimately. Of course, there will always be some complaints; the critical question is how many, and why?

If a vendor shows a few IP address switches, it could be a sign that they aren’t trying to hide anything. So, it’s highly unlikely that they’ve never had to switch IP addresses. If they look too squeaky clean, there’s probably something hidden behind the curtain.

4. Can they verify how they collect their data?

Email list providers should be transparent about their data collection methods. They should answer questions about where their data comes from and how they gather it.

That is pretty simple if you’re dealing with a publisher directly. But that information might not be on their data cards or through their website. They shouldn’t have any problem explaining if you ask them to.

5. Do they conform to current data collection and email delivery regulations?

Check if your provider can prove that they follow international data collection rules. Make sure they carry out each delivery to the standards you need.

If not, it’s a red flag on their entire operation. Ask to see their capture forms and check their opt-in flow.

Different types of email list rental

There are different types of email list rental that you can easily differentiate between. 

Renting email lists
By now, you should have a clear idea of what you get when you rent email lists. 

Newsletter advertising
Some organizations allow adverts from other businesses in their email newsletters. It’s an affordable option to use the publisher’s email campaigns with the least fuss.

List swapping and list sharing
Another common method is swapping or sharing lists. It can be done with a business that complements your product. A variant is co-promoting a joint webinar or whitepaper and also following up on the gathered net new leads.

Alternatives to email list rental

1. Grow an email list in-house

This is the most acceptable, profitable, and best-practice method in email marketing. That is why you should start your email marketing journey by growing your list in-house. When you build your own email lists, the recipients already show interest in what you do. 

It is the best bet for repeat sales and expanded marketing. One of the most common methods of growing an email list is sign-up forms and pop-ups.

You can attract your visitors with discounts, offers, downloadable content, and more. Use anything that might be valuable to your potential subscribers.

Lead gen pop up example

2. Hire a Lead generation agency

Hire a lead generation agency to gather new leads. They can generate traffic and find (hot) leads that show interest in your product. 

Lead generation agencies help to fill and build your database. They will also make smart use of specific lead generation tools and support you in creating the whole campaign. From content to landing pages, you have the support of specialists. 

It might be more expensive than renting, but the value of the recipient and ROI will be higher.

3. Use Email finder tools

If you know the profile of your Ideal Customer, you can use email finder tools like Hunter.io, Snov.io or Prospect.io. An email finder tool can enrich web page URLs or company names with personal or business emails. An email finder service will help you gather emails for your cold email campaigns. 

Note that email finder tools are often used in B2B prospecting. And these people have not opted in, it isn’t legal to subscribe them to your newsletter in most countries.

Pro tip: Some of the email finder services check the validity of their data, before giving it to customers. But, others might provide you with outdated data. 

Remember to verify your emails before sending to keep your deliverability high. Use an email list cleaning service to do so. Email checkers like Bouncer, MailerCheck, or ZeroBounce will mark all the invalid emails on your list. A clean, verified list will stay safe for your sender reputation. Then, send your cold emails to your verified list with email outreach tools.

4. Purchasing email lists

Instead of renting an email list for a single delivery, you’ll hear people talking about buying email lists. Email list rental providers very often also sell the whole list to their users.

When buying a list, it allows you unlimited use of the addresses they’ve bought. Purchasing an email list can be as bad as email list rental for your email deliverability, if not worse!

5. Buy a newsletter or complete company

Another way companies buy emails is to buy the whole newsletter, website, or business. Such a transaction might include the email list, that can be used for marketing. 

6. Offer a universal opt-in

Finding companies that complement your product is great to establish some partnerships. This could benefit in growing your email list. Find partners that would be keen to add your newsletter to their sign-up forms. Universal opt-in is where you sign up for one brand but they opt you into all their sister/partner brands.

7. Solo ads

Solo ads are like renting an email list, with a few slight differences in operation, let’s look at that a bit closer.

What are solo ads?

So, what is a solo ad? Solo ads are very similar to renting email lists. They are a one-off advertisements sent via email to an established target audience. It’s another way of introducing yourself to an affiliate-friendly market. Talking about affiliate friendliness, we collected the top email marketing tools for affiliate marketers.

Marketers often work directly with the list owner, when creating solo ads. You won’t be choosing recipients from big databases of emails to rent. Instead, you can have access to a well-targeted audience. Because of this, it’s even more important to confirm that their lists are opt-in. Only legitimate methods can bring valuable recipients.

Solo ads costs and conversions on a table

Running pay-per-click solo ad blasts

Another key difference between solo ad campaigns and email list rentals is payment. Solo ad providers often work on cost-per-click rates. Similar to Google Ads and most of the social media advertising. Your solo ad blast emails will continue to run until you get the clicks you’ve paid for.

Picking out a solo ad provider asks for the same care and concern you’d show picking out a rental email list provider. Customer testimonials and reviews offer insights. You can learn about the services and detail they provide, their process, rates, ratings. Finally, how they carry out communication and their level of transparency.

Choosing the best solo ad marketplace

A simple Google search turns up that there are markets for solo ad vendors. Always carry out thorough research! Find the most reliable and best-fit partners for your needs and business. 

Some websites offer marketers a place to meet and discuss partnerships. These directories provide ratings for all their members. Filter results to find the best possible options for your business. And select a vendor that fits your essential requirements.

What are the costs of renting email lists?

According to CostOwl and PriceComparisonAdvisor, the average cost of renting email lists varies. Factors like regions, industry and practices might impact the pricing. Their overall cost per thousand impressions (CMP) is:

  • US $400–$800 for targeted B2C lists between 2,500 to 5,000 names
  • US $500–$1000 for targeted B2B lists between 2,500 to 5,000 names

There are often more costs to renting email lists for extra features. Services like data tracking and management might be charged as add-ons. These extras could cost you between $500 and $3,500. 

Your list rental costs will differ based on:

  • type of industry, 
  • number of email addresses, 
  • number of email sends
  • segmentation based on additional data points (gender, location, job title, interests etc.)
  • additional features.

Prices will also vary if the list is rented for one-time use only, or for multiple campaigns. Some of the providers will have a minimum purchase (usually around 5000 emails).

Where should you buy or rent email lists?

There are many legitimate businesses, like publishers that allow email list renting. There are plenty of email brokers to choose from. With databases reaching into the millions of records, and extensive data and services. Choosing the right one for you takes time and careful research.

Some will be focussed just on the data aspect of it, offering multiple at the same time. Some of the biggest names are ZoomInfo, Stirista, and UK Data house. Take a look at who they’ve worked with. Their client lists have household names and major organizations.

You’re looking for providers that are highly rated by their customers. That’s the kind of trust you need. Although their data might come at higher rates than smaller, less acclaimed providers.

How to rate your email list brokers and email rental providers

When looking for a list broker, here are a few key questions you must ask:

1. Are the lists business or consumer-based? (B2B or B2C)

Choosing the right user list is essential. Look into the demographics as you dive deeper into who is your ideal customer.

2. Are all the lists kept up to date?

If lists aren’t updated at least once a month, find others that are. Ask your email list rental provider how often they validate their data and what tools or processes they use. If their data is of high quality, they should be happy to share that information. Remember to always request a final check before delivery, to ensure list quality.

Pro tip: Test the quality of the list! Run a similar test campaign with a few providers on a small sample, and measure the engagement rates. If the metrics on the rented or purchased lists of your sample email are significantly lower than your industry average, red flag! The data might be invalid or outdated.

3. Is the data compiled or responsive?

Compiled lists are generally gathered through open information. Responsive list data is generally volunteered by the user. So that means an opt-in list.

4. Is list delivery guaranteed?

Usually, no precise guarantees can be made on email deliverability, opens or clicks. Yet, most brokers operate by offering acceptable ranges, almost always over 90% for deliverability. If overly high engagement rates are promised, they’re probably not true. Common practice is that the broker would just send to a bigger file to get the engagement numbers. 

5. What do your list costs include, and what are the necessary extras?

When rating your broker, many will look at the base cost alone. Price is always a factor. Not all rates work the same. Many brokers will show a low base rate, but then charge extra for necessary additions – double their initial market price.

You must also find how relevant their data is to your lead generation. What makes their addresses so good for you and your search? How do they gather their demographics, and how relevant are they to your product or industry?

The more you know about how your data is sourced and categorized, the more likely you’ll be able to track your ideal customer.

In conclusion

Let’s face it, email list rental isn’t a wise choice for your email marketing strategy. Rentals skip a lot of steps and might cause a jarring subscriber experience. Make sure that you have tried other channels before even thinking about renting or purchasing an email list. 

If you believe that renting an email list is the only possible way to grow your business, be super careful. Finding a reliable provider is the most important part of the process. No matter if you’re renting or buying email addresses or using solo ads. Clean lists and up-to-date email addresses are a must-have.

Make sure you ask all the necessary questions to get all the right answers. Keep your domain, brand, and reputation clean and professional at all times.


How much does it cost to rent an email list?

Cost varies depending on demographics, regions and size of the list. A targeted email list of 2,500 to 5,000 addresses cost between $200 – $400 for a B2C list. For a B2B list, it costs between $300 – $600. There might be extra costs to email renting for extra features and add-ons.

Can you rent email lists?

You can rent email lists if doing so is compliant with your marketing’s needs, and law regulations. To rent email lists, select reliable email brokers. By following a few tips, you can create a successful campaign using a rented email list. 

Is it legal to buy email lists?

It’s legal to buy and rent an email list in a few regions. For other countries, you will need to get the recipient’s consent before sending email campaigns. Check the current law regulations, and make sure that you follow them. 

What is the list rental process?

The email list rental process starts with selecting an email list broker. Once completed, you must select the size, demographics, and other factors. Remember to focus on your ideal customer profile to pick the variables that convert the most. Next, you will need to create the content for your campaign. Don’t use misleading subject lines, and keep your call to action clear.

About Izabela Harbarczyk

Izabela is the Growth Catalyst & Content Creator at Bouncer. She is inspired to help companies all around the world to get emails into their recipients’ inboxes. Find her on LinkedIn to talk about content, email verification, list cleaning, list rental, friends or dogs.

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