10 Reasons To Avoid Lead Lists

Lead generation is not just a numbers game. While attracting lots of leads is a good thing, the quality of those leads has a big impact on whether or not they will become clients. Not only that, but the quality of those leads also dictates the health and success of your revenue streams. Bad leads cost your business money, whether it be through wasted effort, sunk software costs, risk, or brand equity.

When lead generation is equated to volume without quality, not enough attention is paid to the ability to drive demand.

Many reasons exist why you should not buy target lists that go beyond it not being a suitable way to do business. Let’s inspect why list buying is not a profitable practice and how it can end up hurting your business.

More about lead lists: demand generation vs. lead generation

In this article, we mentioned both demand and lead generation, but what is the difference between these concepts and how do they impact lead lists?

Demand generation concerns marketing that foments interest in products and brand awareness in a particular market. In other words, its goal is to promote offerings and make an audience not only interested in them, but also desire them. In a B2B market, this is commonly achieved by making an audience aware of its problems and how your brand can solve them.

Meanwhile, lead generation is marketing geared towards collecting prospect information and converting them into leads, so that they can be further engaged by the brand with lead nurturing campaigns. This is commonly done by attracting these prospects to a landing page, with an incentive (such as an eBook) so they fill in a form.

When you buy lead lists, you essentially discard both processes, utilizing a ready-made list of leads to engage in campaigns. This can be positive, if the lead list provider is credible, however reputable B2B list providers are few and far between.

Read more about demand generation vs. lead generation in our complete breakdown of both marketing methods.


1. Data integrity

Contrary to inbound marketing where you provide quality content using your creativity to attract the right prospects, buying a list of leads is a low-commit approach. This lack of recent engagement with the lead comes with its own issues, and the first one involves data integrity.

An outsourced list may include invalid or outdated contact information, duplicate contacts, and incomplete lead details. These will damage the integrity of your data. To have “integrity,” the information needs to contain all the correct characteristics and structure. And there’s nothing like a poor quality lead shaking off the reliability and accuracy of client data, which is essential to your success.


2. You have no relationship with the prospects

When you buy a lead list, you are not buying a relationship. You can fit a database into your nurture stream, but this always starts with reaching out to people who have never heard of you before or have indicated no interest in your company, services, or products. The result is unengaged or uninterested prospects.

Without qualified leads, your investment risks becoming ineffective and invaluable.


3. Lead lists can be expensive and inefficient

Lists are not cheap. Especially if you’re willing to pay for a more complex list, which gives you:

  • Targeted data, with prospects from a specific industry
  • More details, other than email addresses
  • Accuracy, like double-verified contacts

However, purchased lead lists are often out-of-date or inaccurate, making it a lot more costly than building your list. Would you risk spending resources on useless data? Out of 500 prospects, only around 50% might contain accurate information. This will affect your bottom line and return on investment.


4. You risk getting low engagement rates

If your contacts aren’t accurate, and you don’t offer personalized content to your leads, the risk of getting lower engagement rates grows. A cold list might even get you on an email blacklist (more on this below). If people have no interest in your services or product, they will not engage with you. 

Buying a good lead list requires you to work closely with the provider, but often this doesn’t happen. Many businesses get lists from partners based on the number of leads they have sold and not their quality. 


5. Your name might end up on the email blacklist

It is quite possible that sending cold emails might get your name on an email blacklist. What are email blacklists? They are real-time databases that can determine if an IP is sending emails they consider as SPAM. If you end up on one of these lists, your deliverability will suffer. 

If you are using an unqualified list and your open rate drops significantly, this might be an email blacklist indicator: your emails are ending up in the SPAM folder, and your email address is not trusted. 


6. Buying leads can erode trust and damage the client relationships

Most clients consider transparency as an essential part of trustful business relationships. When buying lists of leads and contacting people who haven’t opted-in to be approached by you, that trust is severely affected. 

In the digital era, customers put more value on the way their personal data is used. Business interactions are now initiated by prospects who are genuinely interested in a brand’s offerings. Gone are the days when cold prospecting was a key to sales growth. 

Personalization and transparency are two attributes that can create and nurture meaningful and trustworthy long-term relationships. Buying leads is simply not compatible with this new way in which the modern sales environment is functioning. 


7. The data generated by purchased leads are too general

For B2B sales prospecting to be successful, lead data needs to be highly specific—that’s why inbound marketing works. By gathering detailed information regarding your prospect’s activity, intent, challenges, and active projects, you can deliver more targeted campaigns that will help your leads understand and solve their problems. 

This is how you build loyalty and long-lasting business relationships. When purchasing leads, you don’t have access to this highly specific and coveted data, and your prospecting efforts are missing a strong, reliable foundation. You may get in touch with many people, but how many of them will turn into customers?


8. Buying a list of leads is like cold calling

Buying a list of unqualified leads means you’ll do a lot of cold prospecting. Given the modern tools that support today’s marketing landscape, relying only on cold prospecting is labor-intensive and can set you on a quick road to an empty pipeline. 

When contacting leads from a purchased list, it is possible that:

  • The prospect may not be interested in your product, and your cold outreach will be a waste of time and money
  • The prospect has already been contacted by a competitor which means you’re too late and, again, ineffective


9. Buying leads can lead to regulatory compliance issues

Buying leads can raise a matter of concern around basic data ethics and business practices and can jeopardize your reputation. To make things even more complicated, non-compliant lead providers can be difficult to spot. 

When buying lead lists and before nurturing, we strongly advise marketers to brush up on CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CCPA, and other regulatory requirements, so you don’t end up paying penalties for inappropriate digital commercial communication. 


10. Your bottom line and ROI will be affected

Buying a list of leads will fill your pipeline with low engagement leads that will contribute to even lower engagement rates, impact your brand’s reputation and loyalty, and, ultimately, affect your bottom line. Since you’ll be spending resources on bad quality leads that won’t convert, your ROI will suffer as a consequence.

In demand generation and omnichannel marketing, the purpose is to build customer relationships based on trust, transparency, and loyalty. Purchased lists can’t give you that, and they most certainly will stand in the way of your marketing goals. 



Filling the top of your sales pipeline requires a mindset focused on quality, not quantity. Leads generated with purpose, by partners who are focused on ethical, quality practices are the most resourceful asset that can propel your business towards growth. 

When you become a strategic partner for your customers, you will build the foundation for long-term business relationships that will support your growth. Buying lists of leads that cut corners and magically speed up your prospecting efforts are not feasible in the current sales environment. Collaborating with a demand generation partner instead is a forward-thinking strategy that can pave the way for sales success.

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