3 Key Factors to Look For When Buying or Renting an Email List

3 Key Factors to Look For When Buying or Renting an Email List

As I mentioned yesterday, the Can-Spam Act outlines specific guidelines when it comes to sending emails to your customers or the email list that you have collected.  So what happens when you buy an email list or rent it off of another company?   Over time, you will eventually be contacted by some company or person who is trying to sell an email list that they have built up or will try to rent it to you.   As I mentioned, I received a crash course in the Can-Spam Act when I purchased an email list from a company that was no longer going to be using it.    They were asking a minimal amount for the list, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to buy it (even one good response out of the list would have more than paid for the investment).   What I soon found out was that taking advantage of the list wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.   Granted, there are people reading this that are wondering why I am over emphasizing the importance of the Can-Spam Act..  in theory, could you send out 2-3 emails to a list you purchased without getting in trouble.. certainly.  But all it takes is that one person who is fed up with receiving emails who files a complaint, and next thing you know you have a $16,000 fine on your hands.   So here are some key points to ask for if someone approaches you with a list to purchase or rent (note:  this is not legal advice, so always consult someone who is an expert before doing anything, but these are suggestions that were given to me).

1.  Find out how the list was acquired.  Some lists out there are from customers that opted into a mailing by their own free will, and now the company is trying to sell that list.   Other lists are simply scraped from websites, so the person on the list most likely didn’t choose to receive emails from that company (this is the kind that can get you in trouble).  First and foremost, find out how all of the names and email addresses were acquired

2. Get proof.   If they are using a 3rd party email company or have been collecting the email list on their own, they should be able to provide the IP address of where the information came from and/or the date that they opted into the mailing list.  This just provides documentation, in the event that someone questions the origin of the list, that it was legitimately opted into by each person.

3.  Ask for exclusivity.  In most cases, if someone is selling their list, they are selling it to multiple people/companies.   In the case of the list I was buying, this is exactly the case.  While it may cost you more because they won’t get the other revenue from it, ask the person selling the list if they will give you exclusive rights to it.   This not only eliminates the chances of a competitor getting it, but it also protects you against the Can-Spam law.   By writing up an agreement showing that you exclusively purchased the list from the company, you are buying the rights to mail to that list (almost like buying a division of that company).   This would have to be written up with all the legal language and signed, but it essentially signs over the rights that they have to be able to continue mailing to that list.

If you can accomplish all three of these steps, and the list can provide value to your company, buying a mailing list can be an easy way to expand your company with a minimal investment.

For more information about the Can-Spam Act, check out this link: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ187.108.pdf

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