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What is Email List Rental and Sponsored Email Advertising?

What is Email List Rental and Sponsored Email Advertising?

 … and what it’s not!

So in its simplest form, email list rental or sponsored email as it’s sometimes referred to, is really another form of influencer marketing, leveraging the influence of a chosen brand or publisher.

Renting email lists or having a solo sponsored email sent by that publisher or brand provides the advertiser access to both individual consumers (B2C) as well as businesses (B2B) who have self-identified specific areas of interest or problems based on the publisher’s email list that they have subscribed to (permission).

Permission-based consumer email list

For example.  The subscribers to a publication focused on health and wellness would obviously demonstrate a keen interest in this area.  If your product or service serves the health and wellness consumer,  then paying the publisher to send your sales and marketing or promotional sponsored email to their list would be a good fit for all three parties, the subscriber who wants information about health and wellness, the publisher who needs additional revenue to operate, and the advertiser (you and I) who wants to sell our products and services to that demographic.

Email List Rental –  Sponsored Email “The opportunity to leverage the permission-based relationship a publisher has with their email subscribers… and the ability to have that publisher send your marketing message to their email subscriber list”

Consider email list rental and sponsored email as one more marketing and media channel that allows advertising for your company, brand, product, or service to reach potential customers email inbox.

We have all heard the saying – “The Money is in the List” 

But … What if Your Customer is on Someone Else’s Email List?

You will recognize the steps to maximizing your ROI with this channel are really the same as any media or advertising that you buy for your business.

  1. Identify your customer avatar
  2. Select the email list from the publisher that matched your customer avatar (has your customer on their list)
  3. Create your compelling message and marketing piece
  4. Select the number of email subscribers you’d like to receive your marketing email
  5. Choose the date you want your marketing email sent
  6. Place the media insertion order
  7. Send your email creative to the publisher for approval
  8. Finalize
  9. The campaign goes live – the sponsored emails are sent
  10. The publisher provides reporting that includes the number of emails sent, the email open rates rate, and email click-through rate.

I always recommend testing any media.  The same is true when renting email lists or buying a sponsored email advertising.  Don’t send to the entire email list unless the email list is small.  If the email list you are considering, for example, has 250,000 email subscribers, you may rent or sponsor 25,000 emails to be sent to test the conversion and your ROI.

I’m often asked is it legal to rent an email list or send a solo email as a sponsor email? The simple short answer is YES.

Email List Rental - Sponsored Email vs Buy Email ListJust to be clear because of the confusion within the marketing industry.

Email list rental or sending sponsored is NOT  buying email lists.

Email List Rental – Sponsored Email

Email list rental and sponsored email is the traditional way of advertising to email subscribers on a third party email marketing lists. Renting an email list or buying a sponsored solo email, as the term implies, means the email list owner sends your email marketing message once, and therefore only acquire contact information if the prospects actually respond to your message, and you never actually see the email list. Instead, you send your email to the list owner, and that owner broadcasts your email message. Most rented email lists or sponsored email lists are opt-in, at least in the sense that the persons on that list have given their permission to the email list owner to receive information from third-party advertisers

Buying Email Lists 

When you purchase contacts including email addresses, from any vendors, you’ll get as many of the same selection criteria as you would through via list email rental or sponsored email marketing, with the distinct advantage that you own the data and can, therefore, send email to those lists on an unlimited basis. When you “buy” an email list, you’re actually taking ownership of the file. In theory, that sounds great because you are free to do with the list whatever you wish. In particular, you can send as many emails to the list as you like without paying any more money to the original email list owner.

The clear downside to purchased email lists is that these are not opt-in names to your brand or company.  The risk to using email lists that aren’t opted-in can mean that you put your email reputation, and that of your IP address, and domain name in jeopardy.

Purchased email lists also generate lower response rates, all things being equal, compared to rented email lists and sponsored email marketing, in part because if someone has given their permission to receive any kind of email, as in the case of rented or sponsored email files, that individual is more inclined to respond to your campaign because the email they are receiving is coming from a trusted source.

I will cover the topic of buying email lists and sending compliant business to business (B2B) cold email in a future article.

Where can you find good email lists to rent or buy solo sponsored email advertising?

The easiest way to find what email lists are available to rent or sponsor for your industry is to work with a qualified and experienced email list broker.  These individuals work on your behalf to make recommendations, negotiate pricing, and terms, and in most cases are paid by the email list owner or the email list manager.

So, you can do the legwork yourself, or have an experience email list broker do the work on your behalf.  The other advantage of having a good email list broker on your team is the volume discounts they may have as a broker of email lists for multiple clients.

In the end, you’ll end up paying the same price to rent or sponsor the email list because the broker will receive a discount that the business owner is not entitled to receive.

I do work as an email list broker and media to select clients and may be able to assist you if your current team does not have the experience in this area.



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Doug is an international best selling author of “THREE BIG LIES – The Real Truth About Renting Email Lists to Generate Targeted Leads and Sales”, email list broker, podcaster, and speaker.

Doug Morneau has helped venture capital and investment banker clients raise in excess of $100 million dollars in the USA.  He does this by leveraging email marketing, renting third-party permission-based email lists, online advertising, and paid influencer marketing.

This made him one of the nation’s largest media buyers of rented email lists.

You can get more information about his best selling book.

Three Big Lies: The Real Truth about Renting Email Lists to Generate Targeted Leads and Sales




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"Being a visionary in business means seeing the potential where others see obstacles, and turning that vision into reality."

Doug Morneau