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So, you’re interested in using email marketing to help generate leads for your business, but you haven’t actually generated your own email list through organic methods. I often hear newer, or start-up companies, lamenting that it takes so much time and effort to grow an email distribution list. This mentality often leads to the logical next step of looking for a shortcut. Unfortunately, there are plenty of predatory email lead generation companies out there who are happy to take your money.

An Example We Experienced

I recently ran into one such situation where a company we had a relationship with for some time stopped engaging with their Internet Marketing Consultant at Cazbah. We soon found out why. They had signed up for an email lead generation company called Email Blast USA, and had sent a number of campaigns over several months. At Cazbah, we very closely manage the reputation of our infrastructure, as it is critically important to maintaining our clients’ success.

One day we noticed that an IP address of a server was blacklisted by one of the spam reporting agencies. When we researched the situation, we discovered the root cause. The client had been reported as a spammer as a result of the email campaigns through Email Blast USA. In this case, the reporting agency could not identify the sending email IP address, so they simply blacklisted the IP of the domain associated with the spammy email campaigns.

Of course, we immediately went to work to mitigate the situation to protect not only our reputation, but that of the client (and to prevent residual impact to others). First, we advised the client of the gravity of the situation, and thankfully they admitted their mistake and immediately terminated the campaigns. In order to prove to the spam reporting agency how seriously we were taking this situation, we actually had to bring down the client’s site for a few days, creating a brief page with contact information on a dedicated server. This allowed us to prove that the domain in question was no longer associated with that IP address. After further proof was provided that no further spam campaigns were to be sent, the blacklist was lifted and we were able to restore the client’s site.

The situation was very sensitive for a few days, but at the end we were able to resolve the issue. So what should you take away from this?

  1. Buying or renting “lead lists” is considered bad practice, and will lead to problems, particularly over time.
  2. There are some legitimate list providers available, but good ones take a lot of work to find, and will be expensive since the actual recipients are closely guarded. Again, working with one of the providers to market to these lists is not inexpensive. I have worked with one program which has users specifically opted in for certain types of campaigns. Even then, we don’t see the original mailing list and pay for the users who responded to the campaign. Of course, all users are given the option to unsubscribe, preventing a negative outcome.
  3. The CAN-SPAM Act is a law in the United States which was designed to require legitimacy in email solicitation. You should become familiar with the details, and always adhere to the standards.
  4. Do your research first. If you insist that you need to start marketing to lists of people you have not already established a relationship with, make sure that you research the company you are working with. Your own company’s reputation will be the one at stake. Associating your company with a “bad actor” will have significant cost to it; directly in time/cost to fix the problem, but also possibly indirectly in reputation and other ways.
  5. Never, never, never send email campaigns from your personal email account. Only use reputable email marketing tools who have an existing relationship with all the major ISPs.

The best way to generate leads is the old fashioned way: Work hard and provide your customer with something they need, great service and a fair price. Many of those customers will want to sign up to hear from you on a regular basis. Make it easy for them to opt-in with a proper sign-up form through a proven email platform like Vertical Response, MailChimp, Constant Contact, or others. These programs not only help you remain in compliance, but they also constantly manage their own reputation and assume much of the risk associated with your email campaigns. Doing things the right way yields the best possible outcome.

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