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

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