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White House spamming: update

There’s quite a discussion about the White House spam going on over at Bronto Blog.
Ken Magill wrote about the controversy today in Magilla Marketing. Anyone who’s followed his newsletter for a while knows he’s been reporting on politicians buying and sharing lists for the last few months. He has some data that may help clarify where the addresses aren’t coming from.

As for where the names did not come from, I can vouch for the likelihood the White House didn’t purchase, merge or upload any lists. […]
I still receive e-mail as a result of signing up for President Obama’s list. I also signed up for Hillary Clinton’s list and have evidence it’s been shopped around. However, Axelrod’s healthcare message didn’t hit the address I registered with either Obama’s or Clinton’s campaign.
I received other healthcare related massages from Obama’s camp at that address, just not the message that resulted in this recent controversy.
The message also apparently did not go to e-mail addresses gathered at Flag@whitehouse.gov […]
I haven’t received any communication as a result of that signup [sic].

I’ve seen other people commenting that the excuse “everyone does it” is not good enough. Of course it’s not, but the reality is that a lot of marketers have very, very sloppy permission practices. Practices that are similar to the White House stated practices.

The White House e-mail list is made up of e-mail addresses obtained solely through the White House Web site. The White House doesn’t purchase, upload or merge from any other list. … [A]ll e-mails come from the White House Web site.

How many marketers say the same thing? I have had dozens of clients over the years come to me with a SBL listing telling me the exact same thing. They only mail to addresses that were signed up at their website. The problem is, that people put email addresses into websites that do not belong to them. Sometimes it’s an accident or a typo. Sometimes it is a deliberate attempt to harass the website or the recipient, or both.
Given the heated political debate surrounding health care, it seems likely the White House is telling the truth and that the addresses were not purchased, uploaded or merged. They did come from the White House website, they were just not entered by the actual email address owner. The White House’s failure is the same as many marketers who are collecting email addresses off websites without any verification or confirmation that the recipient actually wants mail.

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