Last Updated: April 28, 2023

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Email marketing is a crucial part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Email is a great way to reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers at once. It’s an effective and affordable way of engaging, informing and selling to consumers.

To execute a successful email marketing campaign, you need a robust list of email addresses. But building a list from scratch can be difficult and time consuming. Companies that need a list in a hurry often choose to purchase one from a third party.

About Buying an Email List

When you purchase an email list, you’re actually just renting it from a list broker. Essentially, you’re buying the rights to send one email to each address on one occasion. You submit the email’s content to the broker and the broker will send your message to everyone on the list.

Some companies actually do sell email addresses, but avoid these. They might offer millions of email addresses for the bargain price of a few hundred dollars, but a significant portion of the email addresses will be invalid. Also, these companies often use unscrupulous tactics to get email addresses. Buying a list from such a company can damage your firm’s reputation and put you at risk of being labeled a spammer.

Brokers that rent email addresses have far stricter standards. They only use legitimate email addresses of people who have opted-in, and they don’t sell email addresses under any circumstances. They’re able to provide you with targeted lists of potential customers, which have a better success rate. If you’re selling baby toys, for example, you can purchase the email address of all women aged 25-40 in a certain geographic area.

Cost to Buy an Email List

Rental lists are far more expensive than purchased lists because of quality is so much better.

  • For consumer email addresses, the cost per thousand email addresses (often referred to as cost per mille or CPU) typically ranges from about $150-$350. That works out to $0.15-$0.35 per email address.
  • Most customers rent anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 names, bringing the total cost to $450-$1,750.
  • Business-to-business lists range from $250-$1,000 CPU.

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About Email Marketing Services

There are three types of vendors that offer email marketing services:

  • Application service providers (ASPs), or subscription services, are the most common. For a monthly fee, the service will host the email marketing software, manage the database and send messages you compose using their infrastructure. This is the least expensive option, making it ideal for small businesses. Monthly fees are based on either the number of emails sent or the number of email address on your list.
  • Full-service providers handle every aspect of your email marketing, from creating contenting to formatting and sending emails. This is ideal for companies that want to complete outsource email marketing, but the service is costly. Full-service firms are experts at personalizing emails to your customers and avoiding blacklists.
  • Software providers simply sell you the software that enables email marketing, then train your employees to use it. All of the work after that is done in-house. Email marketing software requires a significant upfront expense, but there are few if any recurring expenses. This option also allows complete control over your messaging and how it is delivered.

Cost of Email Marketing Services

Different ASPs structure their charges in different ways. Some vendors charge by the number of subscribers on your email list. A list with 100 names might cost $15 per month, while a list with 100,000 names might cost $500-$750. Other vendors charge by the number of emails sent - say $20-$25 for 1,000 emails or $500 for 100,000 emails. Volume discounts are available for large lists.

Some ASP vendors assess a one-time charge of up to $500 to get started, but few require an annual contract. Most offer pay-as-you-go plans. Cancel at any time if you’re not satisfied with the service.

Full-service provider fees start at about $2,000-$3,000 per month. However, costs can be dramatically higher for large companies with massive email lists.

Email marketing software starts at about $1,000, including setup, training, licensing and customer service.

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