In B2B marketing, and particularly in enterprise technology marketing, publishers lean heavily on email lists for lead generation programs, including whitepaper and webcast promotions.
B2B email lists also still command high rental rates ($300+ CPMs are very common). Both directly or indirectly, email continues to be an important vehicle for B2B publishers.
But when you rent an email list, purchase an ad in an email newsletter or run a lead generation program with a publisher, do you know how much the publisher has used (or abused) their email list?
- Have serial non-responders been removed?
- What percentage of emails go straight to the spam folder?
- How many emails does a publisher send to their list?
- Do they share their list with other companies?
To find out, we set up new email accounts and registered to access a whitepaper from 10 different publishers. Each address was used only once; then we walked away from the account for seven and a half months. We did not open a single email. We did not even log in. When we finally checked those email accounts, here is what we learned:
An Overview of B2B Publisher Email Habits
Publishers Send LOTS of Email
Only 6 of the 10 publishers emailed regularly through the test but those six sent more than 2,000 emails. TechTarget easily topped the list with more than 1,000 emails.
Publisher Are Not Cleaning Out Dormant Emails
Of the six publishers that emailed regularly, not a single one meaningfully reduced the frequency of emails, despite zero activity in more than 7 months. Four of the six publishers significantly increased frequency, likely indicating publishers are continuing to increase their use of email.
Notably Ziff Davis Enterprise, which had the highest increase in frequency, was purchased by QuinStreet shortly before this test started. The increase may represent a switch from Ziff’s historical email practices to QuinStreet or an artificially low number of emails sent during the initial transition.
Spam Filters Causing Problems
The email accounts used all run through Google mail and use Google’s spam filter. Although there were only a few emails caught in the spam filter in the last month, 24% of Ziff Davis Enterprise emails from the last month were flagged as spam and 10% of IT Business Edge’s emails landed in the spam folder. With both owned by QuinStreet, this may indicate broader issues with QuinStreet’s email practices.
TechTarget, despite sending far more emails than anyone else, did not have a single email in the last month caught in the spam folder.
Emails Are Shared Internally
None of the accounts received any classic spam email. The accounts did not receive a single email from a Nigerian prince, offering a fake Rolex or a random services pitch. Clearly none of the publishers outright sold the email address to a third party.
However, the email address in many cases was shared and used by multiple properties within the publisher. In one case it was rented even though we specifically opted out of rentals when registering.
- The accounts used to register with CIO and Network World, both part of IDG, were shared with ITWhitepapers, another IDG property. More than half of the email to these addresses was actually from ITWhitepapers, not CIO or Network World.
- TechTarget emails came from multiple TechTarget sites as well as BitPipe, another TechTarget business.
- Ziff Davis Enterprise emails, although they all came from a core Ziff account, represented a range of original Ziff and QuinStreet properties.
- After receiving no emails for nearly 6 months and unchecking a box that should have removed the account from all list rentals, InformationWeek rented the email address multiple times in the last few weeks. Emails were received from TechWeb sites as disparate as Dr. Dobbs, Dark Reading and Bank Systems & Technology.
Background: Included Publishers
The 10 publishers included were CIO, IDG Connect, Information Week, IT Business Edge (ITBE), Madison Logic, Netline, Network World, TechRepublic, TechTarget and Ziff Davis Enterprise. No marketing emails were received from Madison Logic, Netline or TechRepublic.
What do you see publishers doing and what’s your opinion, as a marketer and potential client of these publishers, of the way publishers are using their email lists?
Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).
Image Credit: Email by Keith Ramsey on Flickr
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