Your purchased list … is spam.


This morning I got spam from someone selling email addresses. The mail starts:

Hi Laura,
I am aware of your expertise in the field of marketing and how well you execute your campaigns.
We specialize in customized email list services and provide global data. […] “You are receiving this email as you have shown interest in data related solutions. Occasionally you will receive brief messages with offers and our services. Please reply UNSUBSCRIBE if you no longer want to receive messages from us”.

Yeah. No. Just. No.
The above message is a prime example of why spam is a problem.
They’re selling targeted email lists…

… but their targeting is SO BAD they targeted me.

They are attempting to compliment me…

... but in a way that demonstrates they are just randomly throwing words in an email.

They’re selling addresses…

wonder if these are the folks that are selling my address and resulting in a lot more B2B spam in my inbox.

Their email violates CAN SPAM…

because of course it doesn’t have a physical address. 

They tell me they know I’m interested in “data related solutions”…

 but I have no idea what “data related solutions” are.

Look, this is spam. No one really wants it.
This doesn’t stop companies from wanting to send spam, though. In fact, I’ve had a lot of calls recently from folks looking for deliverability help when they’re sending to B2B purchased / acquired / rented / traded lists. But there isn’t anything I can really do. The mail is unsolicited and while and most people don’t want it or don’t care about it. The filters are actually designed to block this kind of mail.
That’s something I’m not sure we discuss enough. We talk about wanted mail and inbox delivery and engagement and opens and clicks and all these measurements as part of delivery. But I’ll tell you a secret: filters are about stopping unsolicited mail. That’s right, filters use wanted as a way of measuring unsolicited. If a lot of people say the mail is unwanted then it’s probably unsolicited and it’s a target for blocking.
If you’re sending unsolicited mail, and you’re getting blocked, there isn’t a lot anyone can do for you. Anything deliverability folks tell you to do, like authentication, just makes it easier for the filters to block mail. Asking for a whitelist will just make the filter maintainers laugh. They are hearing from their users that the mail is unwanted. With opt-in data, we can present data showing that users asked for it. Without it, we are stuck with “uh, I’m sure they’ll like it if they saw it!” That’s not very persuasive.
There is a pervasive opinion among marketers that buying and selling B2B lists is OK. That unsolicited mail to businesses is acceptable. This opinion is not shared by the recipients.
Look, I’m a small business owner. Time is one of my most precious commodities. My days are full. Marketers waste my time and energy. There’s very little that I’m interested in that comes in unsolicited. I mean, OK, it gives me blog content, but it’s still a waste of time, particularly when they drop my address into marketing automation and don’t have unsub links.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like marketing email! I do. In fact, I just made another purchase today from AppSumo. I subscribe to other marketing lists, too. But those offers aren’t unsolicited and they are actually targeted and they are wanted mail. The point is, mail doesn’t have to be unsolicited to be effective and generate revenue.

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  • Hi Laura,
    Hope you are well! Having worked at ESPs who send mail on behalf of businesses to global ISPs/receivers like Google and Microsoft to an ESP who sends b2b mail on behalf of law and accounting firms is a different ball game but also similar. Different as the filters are not the same but similar in the sense of deliverability issues they face like blacklistings due to sending unsolicited mail and hitting spamtraps. All types of senders still fail to understand that consent is just as important as the relevancy of the content.

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