Jun 102010

Sending email blasts to rented or purchased lists of subscribers can be dangerous for your online business. It seems that a lot of people don’t really understand the consequences of doing something like that. I hope that after reading this article, they will have a better understanding of the truth behind sending the email blasts to unknown lists.

The “smart” online marketers

I saw a job post from a CEO of a company recently that required a list of leads for the purpose of sending marketing messages via email. There are a lot of companies out there that sell lists and oftentimes they say that they have “opt-in” lists i.e. people who voluntarily provided their email addresses to them. In general, people who do email marketing know that messages should not be sent out to subscribers who did not “opt-in”. So it all sounds good to the buyer of the list and he or she goes ahead and buys a list of a hundred thousand leads. An marketing message is sent out to the list and about 10% of the people buy or sign up for their service or product. Not bad for sending a single message.

The problem begins after sending your first message

The real problem starts when you decide to send a second message. Quite possibly, the second time, most of your messages will end up in the spam folders instead of the inboxes and a number of them may bounce back. if that doesn’t happen the second time, it may happen the third or the fourth time. Let me explain what may and most likely will happen when you send out a bulk email message to a purchased or rented list.

Bulk email delivery explained

I have worked as an email deliverability consultant for about a year. For one of my clients, I had to go through thousands of messages each week and try to figure out why they landed in the spam folders instead of the inboxes. Most of the times I discovered that a URL i.e. a domain name and some contents of a message were not liked by an ISP and any message containing such URL or content always ended up in the spam folder. That happens when a number of subscribers at that particular ISP report the message as spam, the ISP blacklists the URL and some contents in that message and whenever another message containing the same URL and/or contents passes through the ISP spam filters, it is either bounced back or sent to the spam folders.

What “opt-in” really means

That’s because those subscribers never “opted-in” to receive your messages. They only opted in to receive the messages of the person or the company that is the original owner of that subscriber database. When people see something unfamiliar in their inbox, they say to themselves, “I didn’t opt to receive such kind of messages. Don’t spam me again,” and they hit the spam button. We do that all the times. ISP makes a note of that action and if a number of people do that, then they have a good reason to blacklist the contents of that message. Now this is something that is never revealed openly by ISPs, but people who work in the email industry know very well how spam filters work.

Consequently, whenever you send your message that includes your URL and/or your company name, it will always end up in the spam folder of that ISP. This can be really drastic for your online business because it will mean losing a lot of potential customers since a lot of people don’t check their spam folders.

The right way of buying or renting a list

The correct way of sending a message to a paid or rented list is that the list owner should send a message first to all of their subscribers clearly explaining that the list is being sold or rented and what kind of messages they should expect from the new list owner and also explaining the way to opt-out of the list. Unfortunately, this is rarely done.

Take the safer route or hire an expert

The best way to do email marketing is to send messages to your own list that subscribed to you via sign up forms on your own websites. You can also run ads and offer prizes in return for a subscription to your mailing list. There are many other creative ways to build a list than purchasing or renting one. I wouldn’t risk my online business for making short-term money only by sending messages to unknown lists. If you really, really have to send your message to a purchased or rented list that has not been transferred to you the right way (as explained above), then hire a consultant who knows how to get around the spam filters. Otherwise, just take the safer route of building your own list.


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