Email list rentals can be a valuable tool for online fundraising when used properly, but the market is far from transparent. That makes it difficult for less experienced candidates and campaigns to understand how email rentals work and when to use them.
Far from being a silver bullet or quick-fix, email list rentals can cause headaches for your campaign and drain budgets quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this post, we’ll answer all of the questions you have about political email list rentals and more.
How Do I Find Reputable Email Lists To Rent?
Start by reaching out to your national party committee or a trusted digital agency for recommendations. There are a lot of options on the market, but professionals who use these lists every day can share which lists are worth the investment and those that are not.
Always work directly with a list broker who manages email list rentals as their core competency. They’ll have systems in place to ensure deliverability, list management and other technical aspects of the process. You should never purchase or “rent” an email list that you send to directly.
How Much Do Email List Rentals Cost?
Expect to spend somewhere in the $3,000 – $7,000 range per rental for a list depending on the size, quality, and demand. Larger, more popular lists will rent for much higher. You’ll typically see lists priced on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis and you may have options to choose specific segments of the list.
You may be able to negotiate a “no risk” rental which means your campaign doesn’t pay the full cost of rental until you have broken even. If the list costs $5,000 to rent and you only raise $3,000 from the email, the rental will only cost $3,000. While you won’t net any money, you’ve just added several dozen donors to your list.
On rare occasions, a vendor may offer a revenue sharing (“rev-share”) agreement that splits the money raised from an email. These splits can be as high as 90% where the broker keeps the majority of proceeds.
When Should I Use Email List Rentals?
For most campaigns, rentals are an important part of building your own email fundraising list. The objective is to recruit more donors with the expectation that they’ll give multiple times during the cycle. Rarely, if ever, will email list rentals have an instant, positive return on investment (ROI) that nets your campaign money. Large campaigns and party committees are some of the exceptions to this rule.
Think of email list rentals as a complement to your other email list building efforts, like promoting petitions and surveys on Facebook. You’re paying a higher premium to reach known donors.
What Kinds Of Emails Raise The Most Money on Rentals?
Unless your candidate (or your opponent) is a nationally known figure, most of the recipients on an email list rental will only be learning about you for the first time. Using an email signed by a well-known surrogate is the easiest way to overcome this challenge. Their credibility and support for you will encourage donors to give.
Your list broker will also know which email lists respond more positively to different surrogates. In fact, they may represent your surrogates own email list if it’s available. Always test your emails out on your own email list first before trying them on rentals.
Email list rentals can be a useful tool in building your online fundraising program, but it’s essential that you work with a reputable broker and set clear expectations internally for performance.