head brickwall

Don’t buy an email list Unless dead people are your target audience

Email – It’s no secret that both businesses and individuals are slowing drowning in the daily deluge.

I’m fighting back against this in a number of ways (and will be writing about them in other articles) but today I want to look at just one things that all businesses can do.

And that’s not buying emailing lists or harvesting addresses from websites and then indiscriminately blanket emailing to them.

Because if you do this, then you are  a) wasting your time and b)writing lies which c) can cause distress and d) See you the focus of a blog article

And with the aid of numerous screen shots, let’s take a look at a real life story. And it is real life as it happened in my inbox

This email turned up in my inbox

email preview

This is how it started


Now I’ve hidden the email address it was sent to and the name of the person it was sent to. But these are two key facts you need to know at this point.

  • The email address it was sent to belonged to my mum
  • She died almost a year ago (I have it forwarding to my inbox as it was an email address on a domain I own and I’ve kept it running so if far flung friends get in touch that weren’t informed get in touch)

So given these two points, I was a little surprised to see an email turn up but as the subject line was “Follow Up from David” I thought well maybe it’s something to do with genealogy. That was my mum’s hobby and often in such a thing you get follow up emails a with a long time gap. So when I opened it, I was expecting I was just going to send a “Thanks for your email, I’m sorry to tell you M has passed away”

This (as you have probably guessed) wasn’t the case.

Let’s see how the email continues

email extract

It starts badly and I won’t lie to you, it’s not going to get much better


Oh dear David. Not sure why you believe M is doing well. She’s dead.

Who wants to see what David from Rize Technology Corporation next wrote?

email extract

I must have a word with the pearly gates answering service

Have you David? Have you really been trying to reach M for the last few weeks?

Well I think we all know why you haven’t been able to get hold of her.

I wonder who you left “a messages” with? Let me know and I’ll have words with them!!

email extract

Let’s look at that sentence in detail.
“I found that your company” – Well yes, the domain name the email address is associated with does belong to a trading name I used, but M never worked there.

And as for the rest of it…..Not sure how just having an email address and no contact with the business would put someone in the position to say that a business might foresee things. I can only presume you have some sort of crystal ball, though it must have a huge crack running through it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be emailing a DEAD PERSON.

What came next?

email extract

Oh a lovely list of what they do

Rize, you haven’t demonstrated a strong proficiency in how you source you email lists. Why would I believe the rest?

But it’s OK readers, we are nearly at the end now.

email extract

It’s not looking much better


Alas David, the broadband connection from the afterlife isn’t what one might hope. Pretty sure M’s calendar is empty. But equally sure you won’t be hearing from her.

So how did David get hold of my Mum’s email address.

We know it wasn’t a work thing.

It was either harvested from a website and put onto a mailing list that Rize bought,  or a company Mum dealt with and used this email address for sold it to a company that sold it on to Rize. Or Rize itself goes around harvesting email addresses from websites. But this I think unlikely. I’ve just search for my Mum’s email address and it only gets three hits on Google.

So I can only conclude that they bought an email address and then have just blanket emailed to it. Does this work? Did David’s other emails get people desperate for a short intro call? I’d love to know/

So what can we learn from this?

It’s no secret that people want to build their email lists but buying a list that isn’t well researched is just a waste. I have no idea what it cost for Rize to get the email list, but if they were promised a quality list I think they should get their money back. And then they should think about how they grow their email lists. There are much better ways of doing it. There are plenty of articles on the subject. Read them


Now if this post was on Buzzfeed, we’d now be at the point where they’d be writing “We reached out to Rize for their response”

I haven’t.  They said they know what my company needs, so I’m sure they must read my blog a lot.



The IT Fairy
Clare is better known as the IT Fairy because the way she can make complicated things easy is simply magic.
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