Often marketers that are just starting an e-mail program will harvest e-mail addresses in order to build their list. This is not a good idea for a number of reasons:
- Harvested addresses are not permission-based, and therefore are considered spam. Always remember that spam is in the eye of the receiver. Just because people put their business cards in a fishbowl doesn’t mean they will recognize your e-mail, which will result in spam complaints and possibly being blacklisted by ISPs. In the worst-case scenario, you run the risk of being fined for violating the CAN-SPAM law, even if your e-mail is legitimate.
- You are likely to get caught. When harvesting addresses from the Web, it’s likely you will harvest “honeypot addresses.” These addresses are hidden on Web pages. When e-mail is sent to a honeypot address, your IP address is captured and placed on a blackhole list. ISPs and corporate e-mail administrators use these lists to block e-mail messages.
- Federal CAN-SPAM law imposes stiff penalties on spammers who use harvested lists. Federal law authorizes fines of $100 for every attempted transmission of a spam message containing false or misleading transmission information. Damages increase threefold per incident if a victim’s e-mail address was harvested from a public Web site.
Jordan Ayan is CEO and founder of SubscriberMail (www.subscribermail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing services and technology.