Every time you buy an email list a puppy dies

A long long time ago in Internet years, iMedia ran a post which stirred up a hornet nest. The post, penned by Sallie Severns, VP of media services for Announce Media, offered advice on how one can avoid being swindled when buying email lists. Unfortunately for Sallie and iMedia, there’s only one way to avoid being swindled and that’s simply NOT to buy a list of email addresses EVER. As John Caldwell pointed out in his comments @ iMedia…this ain’t rocket science. You can’t sell permission. You can offer people access to an email list, but the person “renting” the list does NOT get to see the addresses and they certainly don’t get a copy of the list.

The Tweet Which Started it All

A string of comments followed John’s from some of the sharpest minds in the email marketing business and Ms Severns found herself doing major damage control — give her credit, she didn’t ignore the comments at least. iMedia later took the post down completely. However, not before John Caldwell had grabbed a copy which he later reposted at Red Pill Email. You can view the original post (now long gone from iMedia) and John’s post about the whole drama here.

The sensitivity about list buying is understandable when you realize the damage people do both selling and deploying to lists — it can be a disaster for any company foolish enough to do so and it certainly doesn’t help elevate the email marketing industry in the eyes of those being spammed by list buyers either!

Scott Hardigree has been very vocal about the differences between list buying and legitimate list rental. Read what Scott has to say on the subject of list renting.

The real tragedy here is that every time you buy an email list a puppy dies! Thus, we thought it imperative to address this by creating EMAPP – Email Marketing Association for Puppy Protection. The senseless deaths of innocent puppies must stop!

Please help! Watch our video below and spread the word!


EMAPP stands for: Email Marketers Association for Puppy Protection and we are calling on all ESPs and responsible email marketers to join EMAPP and help drive the message home that buying email lists is just wrong! Education is the key here and to be effective we need to drive it home with one voice! One very loud voice!

It’s time to act NOW!Every Time You Buy an Email List a Puppy Dies!
The eMail Guide is asking you to take a stand! Join EMAPP, put the EMAPP logo on your blog and link back to this post.

As well, if you haven’t done so already, please make a post about why buying email lists is wrong! If you have posted about it, how about doing another post to really drive it home? It’s not likely we’ll ever stop the creeps who sell lists, but we can dry up the demand for it by making it clear that buying them does more damage to one’s brand than good!

Become a charter member of EMAPP today
and join these crusaders for email marketing done right:

The eMail Guide

Mail Dog

Get In The Inbox


Redpill Email

The InBox Group

Vision 6

Email Karma

Amanda Moralis

Scott Writes Everything

Carlyle Inc.


Join up today and let us know so we can add you to the list!

EMAPP tips its collective hat to John Caldwell for being the first to take a strong stand after that post went up on iMedia! John has continued to speak out about the issue with passion and imagination. An example of this would be his reworking of a Dylan Thomas poem below posted to the Linkedin Group: E-mail Marketing.

Do not go gentle email marketing activist
Email marketers should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the buying of the list.

Though wise men at their end know to never buy a list,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle email marketing activist.

Good men, the last wave by, ridiculing the nihilist
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the buying of the list.

Wild men thought “CAN-SPAM Compliant” made it blessed,
And learned, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle email marketing activist.

Grave men, near death, they light the blind utopist
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the buying of the list.

And you, my deployment vendor, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle email marketing activist.
Rage, rage against the buying of the list.

Every Time You Buy an Email List a Puppy Dies!

Join up and drop a comment with your blog post link so we can share it and add you to our EMAPP membership list!

Editor’s note: We are aware that there are a handful of companies listed in the guide which sell lists. We are in process of removing them.

Meet the author:

Jeff Ginsberg

Jeff Ginsberg

20+ year email marketing veteran who wants to help NewBees BEEcome eMail Marketing Ninjas. Want to contribute to our blog? We are always looking for eMail Marketing Ninjas to come share their knowledge and help NewBees create and send better eMail messages.

Connect with: Jeff Ginsberg

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  • lbcgroup
    July 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Good to see an actual stance on this situation. This truly shows where the reputable marketers stand. Here is a great way to know which company to deal with.

  • Vision 6
    July 6, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Vision 6 would like to join the Email Marketing Association for Puppy Protection! As an email marketing company which has several staff members with have very cute puppy dogs we feel this initiative is of utmost importance! Where do we sign up?

    • Jim Ducharme
      July 7, 2010 at 6:25 am

      Consider yourself signed up! I’ll get the EMAPP logo/badge posted today so you can download, link back here and let the everyone know you don’t like list selling and are making the world a safer place for innocent puppies!


  • Jordie van Rijn
    July 7, 2010 at 6:43 am

    The reality of it is, there are no short cuts in emailmarketing.

    I held a seminar today about emailmarketing and one of the slides stated it: You can buy everything in emailmarketing (via services or advice), except patience and a quality list. Those you have to own or grow 🙂

    • Jim Ducharme
      July 7, 2010 at 11:11 am

      As Elton John so eloquently put it: Grow Some Funk of Your Own;).


    • Sue Anne Reed
      July 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Love this. Those are definitely two things that you can’t buy but are critical to the success of any email marketing program.

  • Michael
    July 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I still can’t believe people buy lists. My dog approves of this post.

    • Jim Ducharme
      July 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      Heck someone sent me a link to a bid item on ebay which was a list of 20k names. People are always looking for the easy way to win.

      Don’t forget to grab the logo button for your blog! Oh, and how about a photo of your dog?


  • Andrew Kordek
    July 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    What!? I thought purchasing email address’ was the right thing to do. They guarantee me that I will have the best possible ROI as thousands of their clients already have!!

    Kidding….yes..buying lists is totally not good and not only does a puppy die..but a little piece of my own heart is destroyed each and every time.

    I am truly convinced that everyone who sells a list is selling the same list.

  • email marketing
    July 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Need to save the puppies and put the owners of these companies that sell email lists on ice.

    The reasons these list brokers that sell email list exists is because spam unfortunately works which is the reason that these email marketing lists are in demand.

    There are two things that I think would reduce the demand for these email marketing lists and put these list brokers out of business.

    The first thing is education campaigns and by that I mean better educating customers by to not click on email that they do not recognize. These customers should click the spam button instead. This education campaigns can be done by ISPs and email providers such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail.

    The other is to update the CAN-SPAM bills making list selling and renting an illegal act.

    While it is true that an underground list selling business will always exists, if a new CAN-SPAM bill was implemented with stiffer fines with possible jail time, the updated CAN-SPAM bill would make most companies think twice before implementing such a list to promote their products thereby putting most of these companies out of business and reduce this unethical business behavior.

  • email marketing
    July 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Someone should tell conconzy.com to save the puppies. On their website it states the following

    “We help you find people in your industry who have huge email lists that can send our hundreds of thousands or in most cases millions of emails a month on your behalf. If people aren’t emailing for you, you probably are not selling nearly as much online as you could.”

    For heaven sake, save the puppies.

  • Tom
    July 16, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Isn’t hindsight a bitch….

  • Rory Carlyle
    July 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    On the blog … Viva la Puppies!

  • Kim Stilgitz
    August 24, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Think about how you interact with your own inbox when considering buying or renting a list. Do you open emails from people/companies you don;t know or don’t expect to hear from? What kind of response do you expect to get from a group of “strangers” vs those that want and expect to hear from you…email marketing is all about relationship building. Nurture those relationships over time and they will provide results…and, you get to save puppies too – a win-win!

  • Deann Marin
    December 10, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I sell my e mail and phone number lists and do not see what harm is done.
    My friends can just delete the emails that they are not interested in or they go to their junk box.
    They do not have to take the telemarketing calls they are not interested in either.
    And I get to make money. What is the big deal?

    • Chief eMail Officer
      December 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm


      In the simplest terms, no one ever opt in to have their name sold on a list.

      Hopefully one day what you are doing will become illegal.


      • phillip rosen
        November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

        I just brought in 3 pieces of mail! Trees were destroyed, colour ink was used on the unsolicited ads, and I don’t care at all. Who complains about companies trying to get more business . I am 68 years old and my kids have taught me how to delete unwanted emails.
        No trees were cut down, no puppies died! What a stupid statement, in my opinion!

        • Chief eMail Officer
          November 21, 2012 at 5:49 am

          Hi Phillip…

          Right or wrong, you are entitled to your opinion.

          Please feel free to share your email address in the comments so the SPAM BOTS of the world can pick it up and sell your name over and over and over again.

          I am sure you won’t mind deleting all the non tree killing, ink saving garbage you’re bound to get.

          BTW…thinking that no resources were wasted by sending spam is a very narrow sighted opinion.

  • Joseph Stanley
    January 8, 2013 at 3:30 am

    This blog is really a great source of information for me. Thank you for sharing such a useful content.

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