Most of you already know my back-ground and beginnings as an anti-spammer when working for a few different ISP's and also blacklist providers. I am VERY grateful for that upbrining and education over the years as it has taught me some helpful things in working within the Internet and email bodies in today's society and employment positions I've held.
Over the holiday's I received a few spams from a well known ESP's who I knew if I contacted could do something about this. These spams were truly from companies I have never heard, had relationships with, nor wanted to hear from. So of course I contacted those good people (friends) at that ESP's and asked them to find out where they got my corporate email address from. They went right into investigative mode and talked to their customer who quickly identified the source of my email address coming from a list provider called DeepWWW. Somewhat surprised I decided to contact this "legitimate list provider" and ask them to POLITELY remove my email address and also ask who gave them permission to sell my address (yes, a long shot…just never knew how long) and where they obtained if from.
I visited their site to see if there was a contact us page and sure enough only found a sales and or support link on their site with no much else to go on. I ended up doing a simple WHOIS search to obtain the founders (Brian Mackely) email address. How did I know it was the founder? The founders name was on the PEOPLE page of DeepWWW and it matched the name in the WHOIS record.
At this point I decided it was good for me to contact him which I did and again ask to be removed and again where did he get my information from.
On Jan 5, 2011, at 1:09 PM, Dennis Dayman wrote:
I am writing to you to find out where Deep World Wide Web has obtained my email address from? I have been getting a large amount of spam from several ESP's and in their investigations each customer pointed the finger at your company. Can you or your staff let me know who gave you permission or where you obtained my email address from?
To my delightful surprised he wrote back and ask for more information.
On Jan 5, 2011, at 1:14 PM, Brian Mackley wrote:
I would be more that happy to research this for you. Please list those fingers pointed at us and I will see if any are our clients.
We have also recorded numerous inquiries from your company for our data, and we may have even filled an order.
I take spam very serious and your concerns are not taken lightly.
Brian Mackley Cell *REDACTED*
Sent from my iPhone
I then simply provided him with an example (one company name) that one of the spams came from thinking that with that and my email address he would have enough information to go off to see where mine came from, but instead receiving that information I instead got this rude and what I think is an inappropriate response from him (yes, I know he's a selling non-opt-in list and I shouldn't expect anymore)
On Jan 5, 2011, at 6:26 PM, Brian Mackley wrote:
that is not a lot of finger per your claim.Hard to find any pattern or analytics with that informoration.We have over 1,000 clients, and we also provide metadata to almostevery large legacy data provider.Please don't waste my time. if you have a concern, spell it out and Iam glad to help. But yourreply of one name is and your initial claim is quite different.
At this point I did send one more email back to him asking why that wasn't enough since I did what he said which was send an example and also mentioned to him how bad his attitude and response was. I however got back another push back or ignore me response.
From: Brian Mackley <*REDACTEDemail@example.com>
A large amount of spam was your claim. I said I would give it my time and attention. But you name one?
Your marketing department has inquired to our company for data.
No change in attitude your claim from a lot to one is not consistent nor am
I able to determine a pattern with one example.
If you are serious list the large amount of fingers so I can get to the bottom of it.
Sent from my iPhone
- My marketing department didn't inquire about anything. I checked
- Why is it so hard to go and remove my address? See who bought it recently?
- Why are most of his emails from an iPhone? :). Is this a real business?
- Why fight so much with a simple request to be removed?
I did talk to some friends in the email industry about this and some interesting points were brought up to me.
Until early last year DeepWWW was an WebEx competitor of sorts under the brand techadvocacy.com and at one time or another I had an account with WebEx and also attended a few webinars with them. Brian Mackley is also http://www.datasalad.com, so its also possibly he might have "captured" my email address from SalesForce since his last incarnation was developing integration software for SalesForce.You can see an example here.
I know that list providers exist out there and I won't debate the anti-spam merits of opt-in vs. opt-out here today, but I can tell you now that my expereinces with this company are BAD folks and if you MUST go out and buy list this is NOT one of them to deal with. You never know what sorts of non opt-in data you will get and I certainly wouldn't trust this company from their founders resposnses. Would you? The contacts for their previous incarnation (and the domain registration for the current one) are a UPS store in Tennessee and their current contact information is a mailbox/parcels store in Texas.
So what am I saying here? Within Eloqua, we HIGHLY discourage such practices as our company, products and services support the need NOT to have such untargeted methods when it comes to digital relationship building and list rental.
In most cases today, there are privacy implications and restrictions depending on what country you might want to perform a list acquisition in and to make matters more interesting the rules and tools to make your job easier are changing all the time.
Furthermore, you don't know the source, age, or quality of these lists or who else has purchased the records. If you email to them, you risk high complaints (clicks on the report spam button), which will quickly destroy your sender reputation and ensure all your email messages are blocked to all subscribers or even to those other subscribers who really gave you permission or who have been enjoying your messages.
If you must, when choosing a third party list provider your end goal should be a win-win for all those involved – including the email recipient like myself which in this case wasn't. This means that the data you are purchasing should be of the highest quality and have strict guidelines and procedures for how the data was generated and maintained even over time. This also means that your relationship with the list provider provider should NOT be a quick one, but one that is continual over time so that you can develop processes of your own to validate the data and the provider – even if those processes must be used in a quick relationship.
Privacy and customer experience
One of the first things to finding the right list provider is to ensure the list partner conforms to legal and privacy requirements
- Are the email addresses you’re purchasing obtained in a legal manner?
- Does the target audience know the list provider has their address and have they allowed for it?
- What is the target audience expecting from being on the list? Do they know specifically why they are on the list?
- Does the list contain spamtraps?
- Does the list contain bad email addresses (hard bounces)?
- Is the provider currently blacklisted for past practices?
- Would emailing to the purchased list hurt your brand or lead to bad PR?
- Can the list provider tell you the exact source of where the contacts came from?
Reputation is everything
The next item you should check on is if the list provider has a good email delivery reputation. As you should already know, email reputation is just about everything these days. Having a good reputation is the main indicator on how your email is delivered to the inbox and opened. What should be of importance here is that your list partner’s reputation is the same or better than your own. Here are some tipsto ensue they are a clean provider:
- Ask for references on your list provider
- Ask your delivery experts to check with their abuse contacts or online news groups like NANAS (News Admin Net Abuse Sightings)
- Ensure they are complying with CAN-SPAM and any other email country specific regulations (postal address, unsubscribe, etc.)
- Check your list partner’s reputation by reviewing their IP assigned ranges on http://www.senderscore.org like you would your own. You can find out their IP’s by reviewing the headers of an email sent by them.
- Check their WHOIS information or addresses on their website. Are they hiding behind a PO box or an anonymizing service?
- Check their IP’s for blacklistings
- Search their names/domains through Google and other search engines for negative articles.
- Ask them what their frequency of use on these lists are. How often do they sell them? Ask them if they vet their own cliental who purchase the lists. Do they have use requirements for the lists?
Hopefully you found this post interesting and enlightening. I certaintley am NOT trying to turn into a crabby email guy these past two posts, but this holiday season I seemed to have found a few desperate companies trying to make an extra buck by taking the easy way out vs. doing the right thing and putting in some good hard work to earn their dollar. It's ok folks to have to work when doing marketing, if it were easy then all of this would be COMPLETELY automated.
Don't Just Send, Deliver!