When Senders Get Greedy

As part of the Return Path team, I frequently do a review of a client’s mailing practices by signing up as a user to their services. I create an account that is only used for that sender alone so that I can monitor their mailing practices and their use of my email address.

One such client had worked very diligently for 6 months to improve their internal practices, but after that period of time, they decided to “share” my email address. I don’t know the specifics of whether my address was sold, shared with a partner or affiliate, or brokered. But whatever the arrangement, after the address was “shared”, I received over 500 email messages in a 30 day time period. This also happened to the other 2 email addresses that I set up with the sender, so it probably wasn’t a fluke.

Not only were the messages from mailers I did not have a relationship with, they were for products that have no interest to me. I do not have children, thinning hair or a credit problem; I own my house and my car; I am not interested in sports or religion. I do not speak Spanish; I have my Master’s degree; I am happy in my job; I will only ever have one credit card; I have never in my life played sweepstakes; I am not in any way a bargain shopper. The list of irrelevant offers goes on and on and on (with the exception of a free pint of ice cream).

While I kept the account going for a month to see what would happen, the only obvious option for me as a consumer was to cancel the email address.

Even a hermit desperate for communication would never put up with a mailbox that receives 20 or more irrelevant messages on a daily basis. Not to mention, I have a hard time finding mail that I want to receive – from friends and from business with which I have a relationship – because the mailbox is so out of control.

The obvious lesson is that if you share your customers’ information with companies that do not uphold the highest levels of best practices, you risk loosing the customer. You loose them either because they can’t find the mail they want from you, or because you have forced them to cancel their email address. Is the short-term monetary compensation for the name worth it?

While this is the most extreme case I’ve seen, there are many others out there that take on the same pattern. This particular mailer may not have taken a direct hit because the offers are not coming from their network, but they rightfully have taken a hit in data quality (unknown users) and complaints (because they mail the same content) as an offshoot. I wonder how many subscribers they lost in the long run.

Also of particular significance – this sender is an opt-in sender who discloses in their Privacy Policy that they reserve the right to share your address proving that your practices are often more important than how you are portrayed on paper. It is about living up to the subscribers’ expectations and having respect for your subscribers that is most important to the longevity of the relationship.

minute read

Popular stories

Products

BriteVerify

BriteVerify email verification ensures that an email address actually exists in real-time

DemandTools

The #1 global data quality tool used by thousands of Salesforce admins

Everest

Insights and deliverability guidance from the only all-in-one email marketing solution

GridBuddy Cloud

Transform how you interact with your data through the versatility of grids.

Return Path

World-class deliverability applications to optimize email marketing programs

Trust Assessments

A revolutionary new solution for assessing Salesforce data quality

Solutions

Validity for Email

Increase inbox placement and maximize subscriber reach with clean and actionable data

Validity for Data Management

Simplify data management with solutions that improve data quality and increase CRM adoption

Validity for Sales Productivity

Give your sales team back hours per day with tools designed to increase productivity and mitigate pipeline risks in real-time