How to Sell an Email List with Your Website for sale
How to Sell an Email List with Your Website

The following guest post was kindly penned by Allison Reynolds, a veteran niche internet marketer and Flippa customer. She is currently working on creating an online reality TV show about internet marketing called The Reality Challenge.

So you have a website for sale with an email list and you’re wondering whether it’s worth including that list in the sale on Flippa. The answer is – absolutely. Creating a list for your existing website is like having a house and building an extension onto it. The house gains in value and the buyers have more to find attractive about the property. In this article, we’ll teach you how to sell an email list with your website.

What’s This Sell an Email List Thing?

Email lists (mailing lists, or just lists for short) are created by having a field on your site into which people have entered an email address so they can get extra information from you. Things like newsletters, upgrade and product information, free offers, are all reasons why people will submit their email.

There are many email list hosting/management services available that will store those email addresses and give you an interface to email out whatever it is you want to mail. The most reputable ones will force you to create double opt-in lists (where the person requests they go on the list by adding an email, and then confirms by clicking on a link in a follow up email). Double opt-in lists should be considered the cream of the quality crop when you see it mentioned in a Flippa sale; these people have indicated they definitely want to get email from that source.

Selling Points for Lists

Buyers will be looking for several things to rate how valuable the list is so make sure you highlight any and all of the following:

  • Have these people bought something in the past from you (easier to sell to again)
  • On average how long people stay on the list (longer usually indicates better quality content and offers to keep them there)
  • Recent sign up figures (looking for continued growth)

Most list service providers will have reports and graphs that you can add to a Flippa listing to back up your figures.

Of course the logical things that you will also need to add are how many people are on your list, how long you have been building it for, what product/content you are providing to the list and how you make revenue from it.

If you aren’t making revenue from it because “it’s just a newsletter” then add a list of suggestion on how the new owner will be able to make some cash from the list itself.

I would suggest the following as quick ways to add potential earnings to your Flippa listing:

  • Advertising space on newsletter
  • Affiliate links
  • JV with niche product owner

How Do I Transfer a List When I have Sold It?

There are two ways to move lists to the new owner. Firstly they can join your service and you can transfer from your account to theirs. Or you can export your list as a .CSV file or similar and they can import into their own service.

I use AWeber as my list service provider and the process could not be simpler to initiate a transfer to another account.

AWeber perform their transfers using their internal support staff to ensure that no spam lists are being passed around from one account to another, and that the list is not being stolen by a hacker.

You will need to provide help(at) the following details

  • Your AWeber account details
  • The name of the list that needs to move
  • The buyer’s login name
  • The last 4 digits of their credit card that they use on their account

Once you have provided that info, then AWeber move quickly to do the transfer. Make sure you do all this after you have received the funds from the new owner for the sale or notification the funds are being held in escrow.

Like any sale, communication is the key. Keep the buyer in the loop as you perform the transfer so they can see progress and give you positive feedback.

  • That’s a pretty good post Allison…looking forward to reading more of your stuff…already subsd ur blog btw 😉

  • Thanks for the this and especially on how to transfer it. I’ve a site that now collecting subscribers and will be ready to sell at flippa in near future (I hope :))

    • Good stuff Yurckk. Value add is always a big selling point on Flippa and as they say “the money is in the list”… literally when you sell it on Flippa

  • Mey

    Great Idea 🙂

  • HAR

    Good input, I wasn’t aware of the email potential in marketing, but this will really help us in our marketing campaign. Many thanks

  • Monetizing well-built list was always easy, comparing to getting targeted users subscribe to the list.

    • Too true Urosino and one point that will need to be sold to your potential buyers. Most don’t realise how a list can be utilised (the experienced smart ones like us will be the exception 😉 ).

      Show and tell works well in your sales description for demonstrating how to monetise

  • Good..i like it,I am here is very special.i will to do,and I would do if all enough.

  • Perfect! I’m actually considering this with my selling of a website of mine with 40,000+ list on Aweber…

  • re. Your Website Privacy Policy

    From an ethics perspective, all this becomes a mott point when your policy specifically states (as many do) that the subscriber’s address and information “will never be sold or shared.”

    Just my 2 cents based on 11 successful years of permission based email marketing.

    Wishing all the best
    Dan B. Cauthron

  • Interesting post Allison. I didn’t realize you could legitimately sell a mailing list via Aweber. It’s also great to see them put some big check-points before allowing the transfer to avoid shenanigans.

    How do you come up with a price for your list? I realize if it’s an active/responsive list it would be worth more but for an in-active list of 3,000 how would you figure it’s value?

    $1 dollar per subscriber is thrown around a lot online but I’ve never seen the source for this. It’s like an online urban legend. 🙂

    • Hi Alan

      Good question. In an auction the market comes up with the price and how much you get depends on how well you market in the description. Selling the sizzle not the steak helps in this case.

      You can put your own dollar amount on a list , and I would keep in mind how long it took to build
      average income per member on that list.

      Still all “buy it now” prices are just what you want for your asset. Not the true value (which is market driven).

  • Email 101 is nice, your description is quite simple. Thanks for that encouragement. However, Flippa should offer the ‘feature’ of searching for sites-4-sale that include email lists to make it easier to find.

  • You should be able to just change all the billing and contact details in your account too. Well… only if you use your list building software for 1 business at a time. This is why when you build businesses online that you have 1 AWeber account per business, so it makes it easy to sell later.

    If fact, I set-up a separate gmail address too so that all the analytics, webmaster logins, etc is easy to transfer without having to touch your personal account.

    When you sell a site the more you can include already done and set-up the more you can ask. This is even Twitter Accounts, Facebook Pages, blogs, other Web 2.0 Content sites (like squidoo lens, hubpages, ezinearticles, etc).

    • Good points Matthew

      Just on the one account per business for aweber – that works if you are deliberately building to sell. In my case I was building to own. I would hazard a guess and say a good chunk of people will be in that position of getting out of a niche that they were running as a legitimate business.

  • Great information Allison, I had some success in getting t a nice list of subscribers but I’m still not enough :P, but thanx again for the great post.

  • That’s a very informative post!

    I now have a better understanding on how to sell an email list with a website on Flippa. Thanks!

    Promote and Prospers!

  • There is one very important point to remember when you build your list!

    Usually, when people build their list they use this kind of “privacy assurance or security’ statement:
    “I will not share your information…”
    “I respect your privacy and NEVER sell or share your email address…”
    “I hate spam as much as you and I will NEVER share your information…”
    and so on.

    The problem is – you can’t sell your list if your used one of above statements or something similar!
    And this is because you put those “stupid” words on your privacy policy page and/or your squeeze page.

    Do not use such kind of statements if you plan to sell your business together with a list!


    • Alexander I am going to take exception to what you are saying re privacy clauses because you may have the wrong end of the stick there.

      If you have a list and you ALSO share that list with someone else with someone else, then you are breaking your promise with whoever signed up. Same goes if you sell the list names to someone else who is not going to use that list not for its original purpose.

      If you sell your business to a new owner and they are using the list for its original purpose then you are golden. You can also make sure you get agreement with the owner that they will not use the list for bad purposes in the sale details and you can announce to your list that the business is “under new ownership”.

      Aweber goes through all of the steps to check the details of the receiver of the list for a reason. They don’t want lists going to spam farms as it messes with their business too.

      So I disagree that you can’t use those statements, but you do have a duty of care to your list members to ensure that whoever you sell to is above board

  • Really helpful post Allison, but I have a question also about valuing your site with a list.

    My question – 3,000 nonbuyers on your list and 200 paid subscribers, would it make sense to project the income that can be made based on converting a percentage of the nonbuyers when setting your selling price?

    • Georgina thanks for a really on-topic question.

      Unfortunately my answer may seem a little wishy washy. My world view is that value is only determined by an individual, price is a number that a seller places on something and cost is the hit the buyer took (hope that makes sense :)).

      A seller wants to put the best possible number on something when it comes to selling but the value can only be determined by the potential buyer.

      Unless your list members are paying to be on the list in some form of subscription service, they are potential rather than real income. So then you need to pull out the copywriting skills and shine the potential up.

      You have 200 pre-qualified buyers on the list? Great! Sell the fact that pre-qualified buyers are much more likely to buy from you again.

      You can mention that the average sales per person on the list but that is a slippery slope because you cannot guarantee ongoing income. Morally you should point out previous sales do not guarantee future sales.

      You have 3,000 on the list who are potential buyers…3,000 people that you can personally get a message through to without the cost of advertising. 3000 people who are happy to hear from you every time you contact them.

      So, as you see, I can’t give you a magic formula to pop out a “number” but I do hope I have helped you with pointing out the selling points for you. 🙂

  • Allison,

    Outstanding information, as I’m considering selling my site with it’s 7200 members list. and I have been looking for the right way to bring across the strong points of my list. And your tips have helped clarify my thinking process.

    The cool thing is these folks are long term customers and I have a relationship with them. This in itself means additional sales above and beyond their recurring membership fees.

    • Hi Ken

      Great stuff. really stress how valuable that list is because it will have your sale stand out from sites that come with nothing else than a revenue stream.

  • And two more tips on list building:

    1. Avoid double optin and use just a single optin if possible and it will increase your optin rate.

    2. You also can increase you optin rate by collecting ONLY email address and nothing else.


    • Alexander:

      Great additional tips you’re providing. I didn’t even think of that statement about “I will never sell, share, rent your information.” I’ll bet there are a lot of sellers who have these statements and still sell their lists along with their sites.


    • Again I disagree, and I think that comes from building a list as a real list for a business, not building a list just for the numbers (Sorry Alexander but there I said it 🙂 )

      Double optin is a GREAT sales point and as I mentioned in the article they are the cream of the crop for real businesses that want to use lists. They want to be there, they won’t mark your newsletter as spam because they forgot they signed up last week.

      If I was buying a list I would be looking for double optin so I KNOW it is legitimate

  • Well said Matthew, “When you sell a site the more you can include already done and set-up the more you can ask. This is even Twitter Accounts, Facebook Pages, blogs, other Web 2.0 Content sites (like squidoo lens, hubpages, ezinearticles, etc).”

    In addition to email I think their is a lot of value to add to websites by including already set up and established web 2.0 properties…

  • Thanks for the info, I was thinking about selling my site but had no idea what to do with my huge email list. Never thought about selling it with the site.

  • Any idea on how to validate the email list and the wat to verify that list can make profit? I am using feedburner and do not know how to sell but I can transfer to other feedburner account easily

    • Hi Trinh

      The seller should be putting income in the income column and be able to show that to you via normal means.

      If they are running a specific campaign to their list they should be able to show you click through rates from the email to the sales page.

      If they are truly wanting to sell on the list income then that landing page should be specifically for the list and then can show the percentage conversion. Only the really smart, on target, internet business people do that so if I was a buyer and they couldn’t show me that i would take everything they say about the sales from the list with a hefty lump of salt.

      If lists are transferable in feedburner then the same applies for selling tips, but as i don’t know FB that well I can’t help you with more specifics than that.


  • In order to avoid the problem of concurring with the Privacy Policy, you can contact the subscribers and talk to them..
    In a blog to which i was the buyer, i got some 300 active double opt-in subscribers, and the seller, told me that if the subscribers know about the sale, they might drop the subscription.

    So i contacted each and every subscriber, told them that i am planning to buy the site. They asked many questions, and i answered all their queries. Some asked me about my experience in the niche and after a small chat, a majority, 65% of them were in fact determined about the transfer to me from the seller, while the other 35% was not having any problem with it.

    Still those original members are still with me and some of them as joined lists on my other sites also.

    • Great comment from experience there Tejas. And proves that double optin subscribers are top notch. If you keep the quality there, they will be happy

  • allison

    What happens if both parties have different autoresponders? i.e if I want to purchase and the buyer has aweber. But I have get response. How would the transfer process work then when it comes to importing and exporting contacts?

    • Hi Allison… great name!

      Different autoresponders work by exporting to a .csv that the buyer can import into their current list. They will not be considered double optin on the new list unless you re-confirm optin … which means you will lose some subscribers, so in the buyer’s best interest to open an account in the other service 🙂

  • Great!

    After reading this paragraph:

    Of course the logical things that you will also need to add are how many people are on your list, how long you have been building it for, what product/content you are providing to the list and how you make revenue from it.

    I clearly understood what people mean when they’re talking about SellingBuing real business on Flippa and not just domains+hosting.


  • Allison,

    What if I want to sell an email list by itself?

    • Matt, selling an email list by itself might take your into some gray areas legally depending on the privacy policy you’ve included with the email sign-up and with your countries spam laws. We also don’t allow the selling of email lists by themselves here on Flippa.

  • I have several niche sites, each with thier own email lists.

    My question is, if I have never promoted to a specific list, is there still value in it when I list the corresponding site?

    Also, how do you go about validating your lists prior to listing in order to rid it of any false followers?

    The reason I ask that is because it seems that some subscribers are falsely created by automated programs.

    What is your experience with this?



  • Kat

    Good post topic, thanks!

  • John

    I have a email list with 75,000 customers that rented a car from my company at the los Angeles airport, how can I sell this and what do you think its worth.

    • Hi John! A lot has changed since this post was published more than 3 years ago, and it’s now difficult to legally sell a list while maintaining its integrity without also selling the website from which the list was collected. Do you still own your car rental business?

    • dai

      I want to buy,email:[email protected]

      and anyone who has,please email to me. tks

      • Vikrant Sharma

        Dear Mr. Dai.. I have approximately 20millions email address. If you want to buy than you may contact on [email protected]