Are you still thinking of purchasing a mailing list?

Last week there was an article published by btobonline promoting the services of a company called Netprospex. Netprospex, as you can probably gather from their company name, is all about the buying and selling of mailing lists. They will sell anyone a list of prospects.
The overall theme of the article is that there is nothing wrong with spam and that if a sender follows a few simple rules spamming will drive business to new heights. Understandably, there are a few people who disagree with the article and the value of the Netprospex lists.
I’ve stayed out of the discussion, mostly because it’s pretty clear to me that article was published solely to promote the Netprospex business, and their point of view is that they make more money when they can convince people to purchase lists from them. Dog bites man isn’t a very compelling news story. Data selling company wants you to buy data from them isn’t either.
They are right, there is nothing illegal about spam. Any sender can purchase a list and then send mail to the addresses on that list and as long as that sender meets the rock bottom standards set out in CAN SPAM. As long as your mail has an opt-out link, a physical postal address and unforged headers that mail is legal. The only other obligation on the sender is to honor any unsubscribe requests within ten days. So, yes, it is legal to send spam.
But legal action isn’t the only consequence of spamming. Today I received the following in an email from a colleague.

I work for an email service provider with many hundreds of clients. I knew when I read that article that this company Netprospex was going to be bad news, and it turns out that I am right.
Today we got a spam complaint from our domain registrar, threatening to take away our domain. We investigated and found that the client responsible had bought a list from Netprospex. At least one person on that list found the mail to be spam and sent a spam complaint that percolated all the way up the food chain to our upstream provider and domain registrar. Now we have to go to the domain registrar with our hat in our hand and beg them not to terminate our primary domain which we have used in hundreds of email campaigns.
Needless to say, we are terminating this client, but the damage is already done and I am dreading that discussion that I have to have about how we allowed somebody to spam through our network.

Unfortunately, the cost related to cleaning up the mess created by Netprospex is not being borne by Netprospex. They make money when their customers buy lists. The customers, and the customers’ ESPs bear all the cost and consequences of the spam that’s being sent.
UPDATE: It seems everyone is getting their 2 cents in on this:
Another Reason Not to Buy Mailing Lists: John Levine
Permission Is the Power Behind Email Marketing: Scott Cohen
Targeted Opt-Out Email: Busting Some Myths: Mark Brownlow
More on Netprospex: Al Iverson


  1. Rick R. says

    Bulk email is SPAM period. “Opt-in” is really something I signed up for 3 years ago and forgot all about, now some marketer thinks they can bombard me with crap.

  2. Trent says

    Define ‘Spam’.

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  4. Nikki says

    Not all bulk email is spam and anyone who can say so has obviously never worked in a marketing or communications department. I send bulk emails on a daily basis – to our customers as well as leads. The fact that I sent a generic message to a few hundred people doesn’t mean its spam. What people do need to realize is that it is there responsibility to keep their information private online, many assume that each site they enter has the burden of keeping that information private – wrong! It’s YOUR email address, if you don’t want mail sent to it quit throwing your email address on every website you come across. People also do not think about certain things they do every day that allows their personal information to be shared – such as Airmiles. How do you think that company makes their money? Not by giving you free flights, from selling your personal information and spending habits to marketing companies. Wake up folks – its your responsibility to keep your information private, not anyone else’s.

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