Email List Rental: Approach with Caution

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The email list rental business is suffering, and no wonder. EmailExpert posted “We WILL Share Your Email Address” a few weeks ago, after receiving an email from Kodak, modifying the original permission received and notifying recipients that Kodak will begin sharing email addresses with other Kodak companies.

I was floored when I first read this. Kodak had a complete disregard for its relationship with the customer. Unfortunately, I understood how they landed there. Email is probably one of the most cost-effective channels for Kodak, and this allowed Kodak to quickly expand its email marketing. While all major marketers should understand email today, email is Kodak’s marketing, not their core business.

A few days ago, I was shocked to find, in my spam folder, a similar email from Ziff Davis Enterprise. Here is an excerpt from the email.

To keep you informed of important technology products,
services and business opportunities, Ziff Davis Enterprise would like to
occasionally send you valuable information via email from our business
partners.

Because we respect your privacy, Ziff Davis Enterprise controls the
sending of these email messages. We do not provide email addresses to
our business partners.

You do not need to respond to this notice if you would like to receive
this information from Ziff Davis Enterprise’s business partners. If you
change your mind, you can easily opt out any time you receive a partner
email from us.

What is shocking is Ziff’s business is publishing, including email. They should know better! This undermines Ziff’s business in at least three ways, all for the sake of potential near term revenue opportunities.

  1. Disregard for Permission. Ziff is openly disrespecting its audience. The audience it claims to serve, and without an audience, Ziff doesn’t have a business.
  2. Misleading Audience Expectations. Ziff is promising the audience, with carefully constructed marketing language, something they will not deliver. Ziff does not rent their lists only to a carefully-selected list of companies with timely and relevant information. They rent their list to most companies willing to pay the expense.
  3. Lower List Quality. As a media buyer, I have always approached email list rentals cautiously. I now have lower expectations of the quality of Ziff’s lists.

With list management practices like this at Ziff, and possibly many other B2B list providers, it is no wonder marketers say the effectiveness of B2B email list rentals is decreasing. As long as these practices continue, marketers have good reason to approach email list rentals with caution.