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Man Protests Canada's Anti-Spam Law by Spamming

6/4/13

By Ken Magill

A Canadian email marketer specializing in real estate was blacklisted by Spamhaus last week for allegedly spamming protest messages against Canada’s yet-to-be-put-in-effect anti-spam law.

According to Spamhaus, it had determined Heresy Email was sending the protest messages to addresses scraped from the Internet or purchased lists.

“[It] is OK to protest law--even law we at Spamhaus think is good law. Is not OK to spam to protest law, or for any other reason,” wrote Spamhaus in its listing of Heresy Email.

It didn’t take a whole lot of checking to see that Spamhaus is probably onto something.

Heresy Email principal Randy Macdonald is a vocal advocate of what he calls a “third way” of email marketing, or opt-out email marketing. He’s also a vocal advocate of scraping email addresses off the Internet and buying email lists.

For an example of how that philosophy is working for Macdonald—and for a lesson for the rest of us—consider the following blog post about a list purchase he says he made from a company called Data Depot:

“About 80% of people who try their hand in the real estate business fail within the first two years and leave the business. So naturally a company like Data Depot must not only regularly update their real estate agent lists with new agents (they claim to do this monthly) but (MUCH more importantly) they must regularly purge their lists of dead email addresses for their databases to have significant value. Clearly, Data Depot is NOT doing this purging at all. In fact, none of the email databases I’ve bought from any source do any of this purging. Another US real estate agent email database I’ve seen out there has approximately 66% dead emails in it and costs $3000. What a crock!”

Got that? None of the firms from which Macdonald has purchased email lists has provided him with anything remotely resembling clean data.

Apparently, Macdonald has pattern-recognition issues.

Let’s get a little more of Macdonald’s email marketing philosophy:

“Email Service Providers and the email marketing community in general have brainwashed most businesses into thinking that only opt-in, permission based email lists can be used in email marketing and that non permission based email lists are completely ineffective, unethical, immoral, etc. That’s simply not true. Businesses marketing their products and services specifically to a targeted audience is what real marketing always has been and always will be, regardless of how you acquired the contact info for that targeted audience. Yet the email providers have bought into this small minded ‘opt-in only’ thinking of Email Service Providers and have basically outlawed purchased email lists by blocking emails to their clients if they find a given email sender has a high percentage of dead emails in their list.”

So non-permission-based marketing is fine no matter how the names were acquired as long as its targeted. Okay, we get that.

Next paragraph. And I mean literally the next paragraph:

“Yesterday I started emailing Data Depot’s restaurant email list for the first time. The database has contact info for 804,304 restaurants. These are the stats so far (even with throttling and sending the campaign very gradually to improve deliverability):
Time Elapsed: 1 Day, 9 Hours

29416 emails sent

11643 emails successfully delivered (40%)

17773 emails failed (60%)

“If the campaign continues at this rate that means there will be 482,582 dead emails (60% of 804,304) in this list. That’s a LOT of useless data.

“If I had been using an email service provider such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp to send this campaign to restaurants they would have very quickly seen I was using a purchased list and have terminated my account without a refund.”

Okay, but we weren’t using Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. Phew! Lesson Learned right? Right? Well maybe not so much.

Next paragraph. Again, literally next paragraph:

“So the moral of the story? When building your email database, use more reliable sources of information than Data Depot. If you’re building a business email database there are usually many trade associations out there rife with information about their member businesses. Often they make this information freely available on their website including full contact info for each member. Extracting this data is often a snap. If they don’t provide this information to the public, they will often provide it in full if you join their association. You can also go directly to the websites of companies who employ the types of prospects you’re looking for. For instance, many mortgage companies provide the full contact info of all their agents on their website, sometimes for entire states/provinces or countries.

“Another great way of targeting virtually any business or consumer prospect you want is online classifieds sites. You can get loads of emails of virtually any type of prospect you want from these sites. You can manually go through these sites and copy and paste emails, but it would take an enormous amount of time to get a sizable database this way.
 
“I offer a turn-key solution on how to target harvest email addresses from the most popular online classified sites.  Find out more about it here.”

Wow. Macdonald and I apparently read life’s little signals somewhat differently.

Of all the morals of that story, scraping email addresses is the way to go wouldn’t have been one I'd have come up with.

After all, scraping email addresses is a sure-fire way to obtain spam traps and draw the attention of Spamhaus and other spam-fighting entities. The result would be getting blocklisted by Spamhaus and experiencing major deliverability issues, right?

Oh. Yeah.

According to Macdonald’s blog, his two specialties are real-estate-agent email campaigns and email deliverability.

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