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Email lists

worth it?



4:18 pm on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

With so many mail servers pushing mail in to to the user's "Junk" or "Bulk" folder is it really worth it investing money in email lists? Some lists don't even make it to the inbox! Anyone with experience in this? What's the going rate?


4:26 pm on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

is it really worth it investing money in email lists?

Buying a list, no. Building a list, yes.


1:50 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

With only 2 posts it seems as though Email lists are completely foreign. This IS the Ecommerce section right?


3:31 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

IMHO buying an email list is really a poor use of your money. Building a list and nurturing the relationships with existing customers is smart idea. You can download and install open source email list applications that will allow you to setup more than one group of recipients.

As for the spam issues that go along with email list usage - it really depends upon your particulars. Your mail server, the application you use, and the recipients mail server, etc... Reaching people at home is becoming increasingly harder and I don't foresee this getting any easier. Reaching business customers, however, hasn't changed much.

Is it worth the investment. I still think it is but with the caveats I mentioned earlier. You build the list and you nurture the relationship. This does two things. One it helps eliminate the anonyminity of your business by giving you the opportunity to display your personality. Second it offers your customers a way to contact you in return and gives them more of a sense that you're a real business and through the consistent and regular use of email, you establish a virtual identity in their minds. I'm relying on the old advertising rule of thumb here, the one that says it takes a potential customer seeing your ad 7-10 times before they will act on it.


5:27 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I used to work in a related field about a year ago, so remember to take what I'm saying with a pinch of salt because markets change etc.

...and as all the others have said (quite rightly too), building up and managing your own customer database as a marketing channel is one of the best ways to approach email marketing because you can be sure of the lead quality and also that they're interested in what you're selling.

Is buying an email list worth it? Maybe, it depends what you expect that list to do for you. Bought-in email lists tend to well as limited-use tools to sell products or build your customer database, they work less well if you just merge them with your existing customer data before you've confirmed the interest of the contact / prospect.

To get the most from a list you'd want to target people who've shown an interest in your area previously & who are in the right demographic - people who're more likely to register or buy something from you, therefore becoming part of your customer database which is a very valuable marketing asset in its own right.

Aren't all email lists rubish? No, a good well managed email list can be tailored to meet your needs, offer a good response rate, low bounce rates and very few spam problems but it will cost you more to use.

You'll note I said "use" and not "buy" - most businesses that sell quality email lists only lease their data for a set purpose, they don't sell it outright. They normally wont release their data outside the company and those that do will only release it to trusted 3rd parties - this ensures they have complete control over how and when their data which helps keep their list responsive as the people on don't get overloaded with junk.

Unless you're dealing with your own customer data then IMHO the best approach to legitimate email marketing is to pay a reputable agency or list broker to manage the campaign which allows you to treat it as you would a regular marketing exercise.

Why? Well for starters unless you're heavily into legitimate email broadcasting they're probably going to have a better broadcast setup than you meaning more emails get through, less get bounced or encounter technical issues. Quality email lists used to offer some kind of compensation or refund for verified bounces, but only if they're coming from a reputable source.

Being a client has it's advantages too; you have a knowledgable point of contact for your questions, their familiarity with the email lists available on the market should ensure you get the best results possible for your campaign and they should be able to offer advice on response rates based on previous campaigns.

It also means that if something does go wrong you're not left "holding the bag" because all the email comes from their servers and points back to their servers (so they can track response rates), although with 100% opt-in data that shouldn't be a problem.

- Tony


6:33 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. How do these list brokers who rent or sell lists (whether they be email or direct mailings) prevent customers from just copying and selling the same info?


7:31 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If I remember correctly (and assuming you could find anyone that will let you hold the data yourself, which is pretty unlikely for good quality information) they could still use seed names to check up on usage.

Using seed names in a list works a little like this; the people compiling the list strike a side-agreement with some of the contacts - in return for some freebie or other the contract agrees to report back on any offers they recieve as a result of being on that list.

All the data-owners have to do is compare their list of "allowed" users with the responses from their seed names - if they find someone using the list without permission or using the list outside the terms of their license they send in the legal department armed with a copy of the license.

How do they know for sure?

Well if you managed to hit multiple seed names and those people have been given some unique identifier by the data-owner (such as a typo in their name) then the only way you could have done that is by using the list they provided to you.

- Tony


11:45 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I see your point but that's guessing. That's like saying a murder was committed in a quiet town so anyone out driving within a mile radius of the town HAD to have done it.

Someone could have received or stolen the name from ANYWHERE. The disk could have been lost....hell...it could be a postal worker who used the address. It's awful tough to prove I'd imagine.


3:36 am on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How could they prove it?

Well lets say they've given their "plant" data some unique contact information (for example giving Mr and Mrs Smith's house a vanity name when it's never had one, using a fictional middle name for Mr Jones or even adding a completely fictious person who doesn't exist) and for the sake of argument the seed names have been inserted really well so you can't spot them.

At this point you've got data which is unique to certain source or company and they could argue that there's no other way for you to have gotten that data except through them - Mr & Mrs Smith don't really have a tacky house name and Mr Jones doesn't really have a middle name so they couldn't appear elsewhere and then there's that fictious person only who exists in the data from one company.

Hitting a small number of seeded names might not raise any alarm bells but if you managed to hit a large portion of the seeded names present (complete with unique elements) then it'd be pretty obvious someone was using that data because the odds of those specific people randomly getting the same piece of marketing from the same company are going to be really-really-low.

What about if the data "leaks"?

Well there's nothing to stop a "seed name" from being unique to a certain client or campaign so they could identify the source of the leak and looking at the marketing to see who's using it now and then asking all manner of sticky questions.

- Tony

ps. You're right that it's not an exact science, but that's why most companies who value their information generally don't let it out of their sight, and even then there would probably still be seed names present "just incase".


4:15 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You're right that it's not an exact science

Actually, direct marketing companies have been doing this for years. They have a large seed list and the names are inserted with a code that identifies the mailing it was rented to. No one is going to go through a couple 10K names to look for them.

In physical mailing lists HannaK152HY Smith looks a bit odd and still works, but on an email list? That's like the norm.

Besides that, many of the "good" companies you can try renting from won't even let you get your hands on the list itself. You would send them the creative which they would then mail for you.


7:25 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

The way I've always looked at email marketing was by numbers. Through the course of five years I have created and bought websites, mostly ecommerce. My first priority in starting a business was marketing. An advantage of the internet is that it allows you to put your ad in front of millions of people's faces, effortlessy (obviously you will need some money). In personal experience, I found that bulk email marketing is definately the way to go. For one-, it produces instant results, 2- its relatively cheap, 3- it's so easy to do, 4- by playing the numbers game, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars with the right product. Going back to the numbers game, suppose that one in 1000 people that you email will return to buy your product, whatever it may be...The response rates I encounter are more like, one in 500. Emailing 50 million people will produce 50,000 sales. Such numbers are easy to achieve within merely days. The toughest problem in email marketing is definately finding the right list. One should look for a company that has a reputable history, and a great service/product, but not enough exposure. The reason for this is that this company's prices will be much lower. Just this year I stubled upon a great company called YJH marketing co. They mostly specialize in domestic ads, however just this year they began offering fresh opt-in bulk email lists on a simple homepage they made, I have purchased 2 lists (35 million, 10 million) from these guys, and my response rates were 1/500. At the time I needed to promote a forum website which I created (now sold), and my results were astounding. Im sure there are many other companies with a just as good product as YJH marketing co., but definately not for the price that YJH offers their services. The admin of ubulkmail.com is a really nice guy, I had to email him once asking how to use the free software (search engine submitter, safe mass mailers of all kinds,... and alot of other stuff) and he took the time to respond with a manual for each and every free piece of software they give out. If anyone knows a better place where I can buy my lists for under thirty dollars, please respond.


[edited by: lorax at 7:55 pm (utc) on Jan. 28, 2005]
[edit reason] removed URL [/edit]


8:05 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

so when they rent lists what do they do...just have you send them the letter and they send it to the recipients?

What about direct mail though?


8:22 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

CITYADMIN...that's all you paid for THAT many addresses? ...just $30?


9:58 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I intend to buy some mailing list frrom vnlead, any one try their list?

[edited by: lorax at 1:37 pm (utc) on Jan. 29, 2005]
[edit reason] Removed DN [/edit]


2:11 pm on Jan 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

CITYADMIN...that's all you paid for THAT many addresses? ...just $30?

A sure sign that the list is worthless.

Looking for a good list is like looking for a good girl/boyfriend, you don't want one that is cheap and has been used by everyone on the block. And if you do decide to shack up, don't come crying if you end up with some *ehm* problems. ;)

With direct mail, you normally do get the names and they are heavily seeded, so it would be impossible to be sure that you have removed the seeded names if you wanted to try to use the list again without permission. DM companies keep very close tabs on the mailings.

Email is both easier and harder. Easier, because you can easily put thousands of seed names in that a virtually undetectable. Harder because spammers use programs that create infinate number of letter/number combinations for email spamming and so could possibly mail a seed email without ever knowing a list exists. Can't really do that with seeded physical addresses.

Emails are much easier to mail than postal, so most of the time a list provider or broker will simply mail the list for you. Very good providers and brokers will provide a garuntee of return (i.e. 1% of the list will respond) so that you know you are not getting junk.

Either way, I would caution anyone who is thinking about renting a list to be very careful. Over the past few years, a few companies have been prosecuted for spamming when in fact they had either rented a bad list or someone with a bad list emailed on their behalf. The government considers you liable, even if the "guy told you it was a real opt-in list".

Spamming is now a crime and the government is taking it very seriously.

Spammer gets 9 years [webmasterworld.com]
Spammers ordered to pay $1 billion [webmasterworld.com]


4:53 am on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Has anyone here used a rented email list successfully or are email lists a thing of the past?

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