“Ask an Expert” is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about email distribution providers that allow purchased lists. The question comes from Lee Wright, president of Ma Mi Skin Care, an online seller of natural skin care products for mothers.
For the answer, we turn to . She is email marketing manager for the marketing services company USAData, and a contributor to Practical eCommerce on the subject of email marketing.
Lee Wright: “Our first bulk email provider dropped us because we bought a list. They have very strict rules and a purchased list does not fit their requirements. Do you know of any email distribution tools that will let us send out emails from a purchased list?”
Carolyn Nye: “We should start with the issue of buying an email list to begin with. In the email world, buying a list is never a good practice, for several reasons.
“Most importantly, email is a permission-based marketing channel, and the email recipients whose addresses you purchased presumably did not give their permission to have their addresses bought and sold. This is why the email service provider you are working with has a policy against buying lists.
“Email service providers, such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, Lyris, and others, send emails for their customers using their own IP addresses. That is, the emails they send on your behalf come from computers and the related IP addresses owned by the email service providers. You ‘share’ the IP addresses with other customers of the email service provider. Internet service providers — companies that provide Internet and email access to consumers and businesses — monitor the IP addresses for emails that receive many complaints from their customers. The ISPs will block those IP addresses with high complaints, which is why email service providers, who own the IP addresses, won’t let you use purchased lists because those lists typically receive high complaints from recipients.
“My advice would be not to seek an email provider that would send the email for you, but rather to revisit the issue of buying a list in the first place. Prospecting is a difficult and expensive venture, but necessary to continue to build your business. There are several reputable companies that can assist you in building a prospect list available for rental. One of these is my current employer, USAData. Two other reputable firms are InfoUSA and V12 Group, Inc.
“These companies will send an email on your behalf and invite the recipient to opt-in to your list. They will also work with you to construct a proper, effective and optimized email to maximize your investment.”