Tonight I joined a good friend and co-worker, and one of his friends (we will call him Dave for this story), for dinner and drinks after work. As per the norm with many conversations (I’m sure you can relate to this) the conversation eventually drifted to email where a recent event story came up.

Dave told me about a recent phone call with an email list vendor where they were offering services to Help build a contact and mailing list. The offer sounded great – little to no work was needed by the publisher to jump start a list building program, names would flood into their email program and success was just on the horizon.

Wow sounds like a great offer right?! so I asked a few questions (answers paraphrased).

EK: Where do the names come from?
Dave: They have a program the pings out to mail servers and confirms user names based on common formats. There was also talk about contact trading to build credits.

Strike one – Automated harvesting and dictionary attacks
Strike two – Contact sharing/trading for new contacts

EK: How do they communicate with subscribers when sending?
Dave: They send mail over a number of mail servers in “Short Bursts” to help improve delivery to users inboxes.

Strike three – Snow Shoe spamming to avoid filters

It’s a good thing I met Dave tonight I think I may have saved him a major headache in the future – I quickly filled him in on:

  • Automated Harvesting issues, both from a Privacy and Legal point of view under CAN-SPAM and PIPEDA
  • The dangers of contact sharing with third party providers, “How would you like it if some one shared your info”?
  • And the proper way a mail provider (ESP or in-house) should send email on their behalf

After this short education Dave asked me – “How do they get away with this?” – To while I said… Frequent and rapid name changes of the companies. Direct Mag tracked a number of these types of services for a number of months and a half dozen name changes were uncovered as marketers were continuously duped into using these services.

Don’t fall for these types of offerings – when in doubt ask around and see what other are saying about the provider.

Do you have a true story? Share it with us.