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Where can I mail a purchased list?

We’ve had a lot of comments over the last few weeks regarding our post on ESPs that don’t allow purchased lists. Most of them were companies adding their addresses to the list. But one comment needs a little more discussion, I think.

Here’s the problem though, when your employer has purchased a list and INSISTS on using that list for lead generation.

I have explained ad nauseum why this is a bad idea. They look at me blankly and move on with scheduling our emails. They expect me to find a provider that will allow purchased lists. Where do I turn?

All I can find is articles on NOT using them. Well, I have no say in the matter and my job depends on doing this. What about us stuck in that place? Doug Marshall

It’s a tough situation to be in when your job depends on doing something that is generally viewed as a bad idea. Most of the ESPs that will let you send to purchased lists will have poorer deliverability than those ESPs that require opt-in. Most purchased lists have very poor deliverability.

I’ve regularly had companies come looking for help because their purchased lists were widely blocked. One of them was earlier this year. Their purchased list was only seeing about a 40% acceptance rate and about a 15% inbox rate. They wanted to know if I could help them resolve the blocks. There wasn’t anything we could do.

If you’re in the situation where the choice is send to the list or get fired then you have some hard decisions to make. Is this your line in the sand? My experience is some management folks refuse to believe that purchased lists are a bad idea. They’re going to mail those lists because they paid good money for them! and their vendor would not lie to them! Sometimes the only thing you can do as an employee is do what you’re told or walk away. Those aren’t easy decisions.

In terms of how you can negotiate this pathway without giving up your job, there are some things I can think for you to do. Depending on your relationship with your ESP, you can call your account rep and ask them about the ESPs policy for purchased lists. I know many ESPs deal with this question regularly. They may help you convince your management this is a bad idea.

If you’re uncomfortable involving your provider, you can document your findings about how bad an idea this is. You can reference my blog, and the other statements you’ve found that say purchased lists are bad. Even if you are ignored, you have documented this is a bad idea. If there is poor delivery and fallout, then you’ll have the documentation that says this is how purchased lists work.

Another possibility, depending on the size of the purchased list, is to actually contact each lead individually. Introduce your company, what you have and invite them to join your newsletter program. If they respond, great, you have a new contact. If they don’t, well, they’re a poor lead for you.

Good luck!

1 comment

  1. James says

    There’s a business opportunity here — Do It Anyway Mailing Inc.

    Ensure that you email from a PBLed IP with no reverse DNS, ask the main blacklists if you can be put *on* their lists, use SpamAssassin to try to get as high a score as you can on the header-based rules, and try to find an ISP with a sense of humour.

    Then take the money from clueless PHBs, and watch as they get hit by a cluebat to the wallet.

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