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Reply To: Adding purchased names to email lists

Chip Griffin
September 19, 2020 at 2:04 pm #7511

In general, in the U.S. it is permissible to add people to an opt-out list, provided the sender is clearly identified, the commercial nature of the email is not deceptive (especially in the subject line), and the opt-out is clear and simple.

California has tougher rules, though their applicability is contested for a variety of reasons.

The larger risk is that recipients may flag your email as spam. Different ISP’s and email service providers have different thresholds for what constitutes enough spam complaints to take action (which may include blocking your emails or suspending/canceling your account). Note that sometimes web hosting providers will take you offline, too, though I haven’t heard of that happening recently (it was more common 10+ years ago for web hosts to drop customers even if the spam email didn’t originate from the web host’s servers).

My general advice is to start with small sample sizes to test the waters and the quality of the list. I’m not familiar with every service and the level of list cleanliness and compliance that they have. Some email harvesting techniques are impermissible, and while that is technically the problem of the list seller, it can indirectly become your problem. So I would at least do some diligence on the provider to ensure that they are not the subject of complaints over their research/business practices.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that I’m not a lawyer and none of this constitutes legal advice

But I hope it helps anyway 🙂

Chip Griffin founded the Small Agency Growth Alliance (SAGA) to help PR and marketing agency owners achieve their goals.


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