Borrowing Email Lists Greitens Etc.


The meeting went off the rails when I asked, “How are you going to build your email list?”

The nonprofit executive director replied, “We’re going to borrow lists from some other nonprofits we partner with.”

“I recommend against that,” I said.

“But we do that all the time with direct (postal) mail,” she said.

I tried to explain the difference between direct mail and email. I tried to explain the difference between SPAM and opt-in email.

But she wasn’t listening. I lost her at “I recommend against that.” She didn’t invite me to meet again.

I was thinking about that meeting yesterday when the news broke about Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. Before running for Governor, he founded and ran a nonprofit called The Mission Continues.

Greitens allegedly “borrowed” the nonprofit’s enormous email list — without permission — and used the list for his political campaign.

I’ll presume the Governor is innocent until proven guilty.

But for the sake of a marketing lesson, let’s imagine that thousands of people who opted-in for email from The Mission Continues received unsolicited emails from the Greitens Campaign.

I don’t know whether the nonprofit with which I met borrowed those lists from partner agencies. But for the sake of a marketing lesson, let’s imagine that the nonprofit sent unsolicited emails to thousands of people who didn’t ask for them.

Most people don’t like to receive unsolicited email. It frustrates and angers them, and it reflects badly on the sender.

Like it or not, that’s more the case with email than with postal mail. Sure, people don’t love getting piles of junk postal mail. But they tend not to hold it against the companies that send it.

More importantly, the United States Postal Service doesn’t have filters to block future deliveries from those who send junk mail.

SPAM filters will flag you and block future deliveries if you send emails to borrowed or purchased lists.

List-building is a quality-over-quantity game. Communicate with people who know you — existing clients, prospects with whom you’re already conversing via email, subscribers who give you permission to contact them.

Your list may be smaller than the one you borrow or buy, but your results will be better.

Here’s a free resource from our site that will help: Nine Proven List-Building Techniques.

Don't go away yet..

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.

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