The Dangers Of Buying Email Lists When You Sell Domestic Security Systems

This post was originally written in 2016 and the GDPR and PECR have made things even more difficult for Fire and Security companies who want to email homeowners in 2020.

If you buy a list of email addresses from a third party, you MUST get proof that the people on that list have given permission for their details to be shared with you. And stored and processed by you. And to receive ongoing marketing from you.

If you’re one of the many companies that relies on buying email lists for your marketing strategy, the latest FSB Voice Business Update has some nasty news for you.

The ICO  (Information Commissioner’s Office) has issued new guidelines for companies that purchase consumer information for marketing purposes.


Why Buying Email Lists from Third Parties could give you a nasty shock

The ICO are actively reminding these companies that under the specific consent requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2015 (PECR) firms must not contact a consumer whose details they have purchased from another organisation unless the seller of the details obtained the consumer’s consent.

Another report on explains the effects of this in more detail but the upshot is that you need to be very careful about contacting consumers on any email database list.

The ICO said:

“Although there is a well-established trade in third party opt-in lists for traditional forms of marketing, organisations need to be aware that indirect consent will not be enough for texts, emails or automated calls.

“PECR specifically requires that the customer has notified the sender that they consent to messages from them… In most circumstances, indirect consent would not meet this test – as the customer did not directly notify the sender, they notified someone else. Therefore it is best practice for an organisation to only send marketing texts and emails, or make automated calls to individuals, if it obtained consent directly from that person.”

Think about it as if you were that consumer whose information has been included in an email database that you have purchased:

  • Would you want to receive emails that you didn’t ask for?
  • Would it make you cross with the company that does this and spams your inbox?
  • Is it likely to make you want to buy anything from them?
  • Would you hope that the company would get fined by the ICO?

So, what’s the point of purchasing email databases then? 

It might seem like a simple way of acquiring this information but I can’t think of any reason why you would consider buying email lists. There is no value to it – the majority of the people on any such list are unlikely to resemble your buyer persona so you’re just wasting your cash.

But if you are looking to reach B2C customers, we have some great ideas.

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