On the second day of Listmas, my data showed to me … 2 purchased lists.
Did you know that people in the email delivery space hate list purchases? We really do. It’s because we know how strongly linked permission is to customer success.
I’ve spent some time in the past talking about things like permission and policy but I haven’t really spent much time talking about purchased lists. Really, there’s one blog post where I spend a lot of time talking about purchased lists. (And, yes, I know that there’s one post regarding appending and purchased lists, but I don’t spend much time talking about why.)
But, just because I haven’t really mentioned it before doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion. Purchased lists are bad news. They indicate a lack of permission, which, in turn, results in higher spam complaints which lead to increased bulk folder placement and lower overall delivery. Why is this? Well, it’s because email users are not only your consumers; they’re also the product sold by the mailbox providers. Anything which causes those consumers to want to spend less time looking at mail (and the ads helpfully inserted by the mailbox provider over to the side of the web interface) costs them money. And a lot of that can be attributed to lack of permission.
So, how do those providers take care of their users — the product that they’re selling to the advertisers? They institute spam filters and establish blocks against senders who would cause a poorer experience for those users. Filters based on mass voting (“This message comes from a sender that many of our other users…”, or machine learning (“This message looks like messages….”), or even simple content filters. And what kinds of messages are more likely to tick the boxes for getting sent to the spam folder or even blocked:
Messages with blue backgrounds
Messages sent to purchased lists
Messages consisting of images with no text
So, there’s a reason why purchased lists are prohibited by email service providers (See Laura Atkins’s posts on the subject here and here). It’s not because the ESP is mean. It’s because they’re listening to the gatekeepers who are saying “We want to block messages sent to purchased lists because our users don’t want to see them.”