Should I buy a targeted e-mail list to promote my site?

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Answer: You see it all the time: promoters offering you a quantity of “targeted, opted-in” lists of e-mail addresses. Here’s why you should never send an e-mail campaign to a purchased list.

Clever spammers continue to sneak through personal, corporate and ISP spam filters, so people are still faced with the unending task of sifting through their inboxes to separate the spam from valid e-mails. Confusing matters are those e-mails that claim to have been requested, when, in fact, the recipient has no idea how the subscription was initiated. What is clear: Clicking on an “unsubscribe” link can tell the spammer that the e-mail was received, opened and read, thereby flagging the e-mail address as a candidate for resale to other spammers. Because “unsubscribing” can open the door for more spam, many just continue to receive, delete and hate these unsolicited e-mails.

This means sending e-mails to a purchased list can associate your brand with pain, frustration and mistrust—hardly what you want. Even worse, you may be reported as a spammer. The ISP will immediately blacklist you, blocking every e-mail you send to any recipient on its system—really bad news if that ISP is AOL, MSN or Comcast. The only way to get unblocked is to provide proof to that ISP of a double opt-in specifically for this list. Because you bought the list, you won’t have that. So the block will remain for all future e-mails you send, even to your own opted-in lists.

When managed properly, e-mail is an incredibly powerful tool to reinforce existing relationships. A purchased list may appear to be an economical way to reach new people, but the real price you’ll pay is damage to your company and your brand.

Tom Snyder is president and founder of Trivera Interactive (, a Germantown, Wis., Web site development and online marketing company.

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