Cost of an Email List

How Much do Email Lists Cost?

Last Updated on March 3, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Email marketing can be an extremely effective way to reach potential customers. However, the costs associated with building and maintaining email lists can vary widely.

As a business looking to maximize your marketing budget, it’s important to understand the factors that influence the pricing of purchased email lists versus in-house list building. This article will break down the costs and provide tips for getting the most from your email marketing investment.

How Much do Email Lists Cost?

Breakdown of Email List Pricing

The cost of an email list depends on several factors:

  • Size of list – Prices are generally lower per contact for larger lists. A list of 10,000 emails may cost $150, while a 500,000 list could be $500.
  • Level of segmentation – More targeted, segmented lists are more expensive. Basic email lists may run $50 per thousand contacts, while segmented lists can be $80 or more per thousand.
  • Format – Simple text files are cheapest while Excel spreadsheets or CSVs with additional data cost more. Expect to add $20-50 per thousand for formatted, enriched lists.
  • Source – Opt-in, verified lists from reputable providers are ideal but expensive, often $150-300 per thousand contacts or more. Lower-quality lists can be as low as $30 per thousand.
  • Exclusivity – Unique, exclusive lists are pricier than more widely distributed ones.

According to PipeDrive, email list prices depend on the type, source, size, and quality of the list. They are usually based on the cost per thousand impressions (CPM). For example, a typical consumer email list costs between $200 and $400 CPM, while a typical business email list costs between $300 and $600 CPM.

ConquestGraphics says that prices can vary widely, with some lists costing as little as $0.03 cents per contact record and others costing up to $0.25 cents per record.

Business mailing lists are generally more expensive than consumer mailing lists, according to Selzy.

Differences Between Buying and Renting Email Lists

Purchased email lists involve a one-time cost and you retain full use of the list. Rented lists provide one-time use for a campaign:

  • One-time cost – Buying a list provides ongoing use, while rents are per campaign. Buying is better for long-term use.
  • Cost savings – Renting can cost $10-20 per thousand for small volumes or niche lists. For frequent use, buying often provides cost savings.
  • Targeting abilities – Both allow segmentation but bought lists allow greater customization and management of data over time.
  • List quality – Rented lists may be overused with low engagement. Purchased lists can be fresher when managed properly.

Factors Influencing Email List Costs

Quality and Segmentation of Lists

Higher quality, targeted lists justified increased costs:

  • Opt-in source – Opt-in lists with permission perform far better, justifying costs of $100-250 per thousand or more.
  • Targeting/segmentation – Lists filtered by demographics, interests, and behaviors have higher engagement and conversion. Segmented lists can command prices of $80 per thousand or more.
  • List accuracy – Fresher lists with ongoing hygiene and accuracy efforts deliver better results and are worth higher prices of $150 per thousand or more.

Compliance and Legal Considerations

You might also like our articles on the cost of Yearbook Ads, Hyros, and Clari.

Adhering to laws like CAN-SPAM and GDPR also impact costs:

  • Opt-in requirements – Meeting opt-in legal requirements can limit available data and increase lead generation costs.
  • Managing unsubscribes – Proper unsubscribe handling per laws like CAN-SPAM adds costs for list hygiene.
  • Data requirements – GDPR and other privacy laws require proper consent, increasing direct collection costs.
  • Fines for violations – Non-compliance can lead to major legal fines, a huge hidden cost.

Maximizing ROI on Email List Investments

Tips for Selecting High-Quality Email Lists

Sending email to your listWhen researching lists, look for:

  • Opt-in source – Confirm contacts actively opted in to email communications.
  • Targeting and segmentation options – Evaluate available filters to maximize relevancy.
  • List provider reputation – Seek established players known for list quality and compliance.
  • List freshness – Ask when the list was last updated and cleaned. Fresher is better.
  • Pricing transparency – Clearly understand what is included in quoted pricing.
  • Sample data – Ask to see a sample selection to evaluate data format, quality, and targeting.

Strategies for Enhancing Email Campaign Effectiveness

To maximize results:

  • Focus on quality creatives – Well-designed, relevant emails drive opens, clicks, and conversions.
  • Test different segments – Try A/B testing different list segments to identify high-value targets.
  • Monitor performance – Track open, click-through, and conversion metrics to refine targeting.
  • Add subscriber preferences – Allow opt-in choices to collect first-party behavioral data over time.
  • Re-engage inactive contacts – Nurture cold email subscribers to become active buyers.

Final Words

Purchased email lists can provide excellent ROI when selected wisely, but they do come at a cost. Weigh options carefully, focus on quality and legal compliance, and diligently track performance. With the right strategy, email marketing can be a cost-effective way to acquire and engage customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are email lists worth buying?

High-quality, targeted opt-in lists can certainly be worth buying despite their higher cost-per-contact. Segmented, compliant lists help reach motivated audiences and avoid wasted spend from spamming irrelevant contacts. Monitor campaign metrics carefully, and a purchased list can deliver excellent ROI versus generic rented lists.

How much should I pay for a contact list?

It depends on your goals, target audience, email volume, and more. Typically you can expect to pay $30-60 per thousand for basic email lists, $80-150 per thousand for segmented lists from reputable providers, and $150-300 per thousand for highly targeted, opt-in lists.

Evaluate quality, segmentation, compliance, and expected engagement. Your ideal price point balances cost with campaign performance.

What are the disadvantages of mailing lists?

Potential disadvantages include stale data if lists aren’t properly maintained, low engagement from overused rented lists, and lack of first-party behavioral data. There’s also the risk of non-compliant data sources.

Thoroughly vet lists, monitor campaign metrics, and focus on quality over quantity. Building your own opt-in list can help, but requires significant time and marketing investment.

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