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26 Feb 2010
A recent online article in BtoB magazine about Sending e-mail when you don't have an opt-in has caused quite a stir in the online marketing and anti-spam community, but perhaps not for the reasons the author hoped.
The article is about a company called Netprospex which sells and trades contact lists, for the specific purpose of marketing. Other people have noted that buying a list from them and mailing to it is a quick route to getting yourself booted off your provider, but I was idly wondering, since single messages to real people are generally OK, if their individual contacts were useful.
Netprospex lets you do a search of their database and provides redacted responses, with the details available if you pay. I live in a very small town in upstate New York, so I searched for people within five miles of here, and even though the names were redacted to initials, I recognized most of them.
They claim that all the entries were "verified" recently, but this database is garbage. They are 72% sure I am the Domain Assurance Council, even though we shut it down two years ago. They are 54% sure that the principal of the elementary school who retired five years ago is still there, and "verified" it in September. Most excitingly, they have the highly influential president, vice president, and treasurer of the local snowmobile club, well, actually, the people who were a couple of years ago, leaders of this organization which I believe has an annual budget well into the three figures.
So not only are you likely to lose your net access, you're not likely to get any business either. As people keep finding out the hard way, legitimate marketing is hard, and there aren't any shortcuts.
I was also surprised to see in the comments on the article a favorable response from a VP at ReturnPath starting "Great article and good counsel." (It's the first comment if you follow this link.) I was under the impression that they required their clients to mail only to receipients who've opted in, but it looks like they're reconsidering.
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VP, Return Path
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