Sometimes, you just want to beat your head against your desk, put your head in your hands and cry, and then beat your head against the wall. I’m kind of at that point at the moment. Why? “Probably,” as Jack Handy once said about the reason why raindrops would be God’s tears, “because of something that you did.”
I’ve been working on more Spamhaus cases lately (apparently, as Laura Atkins points out, so is everyone else). I’m not unhappy about that. I actually love doing policy enforcement work. I find it challenging and stimulating. But, I’m starting to notice some patterns.
For instance, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that the People Who Matter are getting better at finding append lists and are more than willing to punish marketers for using them. And, of course, no one listened, except for maybe people who were already avoiding using append services.
Well, folks, the stats don’t lie. Some back of the hand scribbling using data that only goes back to the last three months of last year, tells me that my employer suffered from an average of between 1 and 2 SBLs per month in 2011. Using those numbers, that would be a max of 24 listings in 2011. (And, I think there were a couple of months last year when nothing came in at all.) We have already surpassed that number for 2012, and the year is not quite half done. So, Spamhaus is certainly taking notice of more things being sent by the clients of ESPs. Of the stats for just this year, roughly 20% of the SBL listings that we’ve dealt with have, in some form, involved email appends. That’s about double the number cases involving data purchases, and is roughly the same number of incidents as those involving errors in data compilation. And that’s only what we know about. There could be more.
So, why do I feel like beating my head against my desk, crying in my hands, and beating it against a wall? Because the stats tell me that people either aren’t listening to the warnings or they think that I’m daft and/or lying. So, they’re still out there doing stupid things — and getting caught. When they get caught, they all try to act innocent as though it isn’t their fault that they did something that is resulting in a lot of mail getting blocked. And they act incredulous that Spamhaus has the juice to force action, or that we would enforce our policy that prohibits the use of purchased and appended lists.
Why would we enforce our policy? Because that’s what you do, if you want to be successful. My current estimate is that a Spamhaus listing will result in between 60 and 70% of a B2C list getting blocked. You cannot be unable to deliver that much mail and remain successful.
And that brings us to the question in the title of this post: Why does all of this matter?
It’s easy to say that all of this matters because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s certainly true, but there are far more practical reasons why it matters: It matters because it has an impact on our clients who cannot afford to bounce between 60% and 70% of their mail today because they insist on using append with the excuse of “it’s made us a lot of money in the past.” It matters because the concepts of “permission” and “consent” actually matter to the people who exercise some level of control over what messages are accepted for delivery and where those messages get sent.