Spam Alert: Is Rick Santorum Buying Email Addresses?

March 7th, 2012

I’ve heard from three different people today that they’ve suddenly ended up on Rick Santorum’s email list — WITHOUT signing up or opting in. In one case, the address (and the name associated with it) were only used to sign up for websites, not for actual communications.

If it’s true that Santorum’s campaign bought a list, that’s very bad form — first, it means he’s functionally spamming people, since they didn’t ASK to get information from him. Second, a purchased list isn’t too likely to yield good results, and this example shows why: all three of the people in question are progressives/Democrats, NOT folks who are going to be backing the former Senator from Pennsylvania with the un-Googleable name. I.e., the money he spent on their addresses — and likely many others — is utterly wasted.

Here’s how you’re supposed to do it — instead of buying a list, you buy ACCESS to a list. I.e., you pay the list owner to let you send a message to the members asking them to sign up to support your campaign. This way, you only get people who actually care about your campaign, and you’re not paying for wasted addresses. And, you’re not sending people messages they’re likely to treat as spam! Remember, the more of your messages that get marked as spam on Yahoo, Google, et al, the less likely your other messages are to make it through the filters. In this case, though, it sounds like Santorum may have just purchased addresses in bulk and is throwing emails at them and hoping for the best. Prediction: an exceptionally low Return On Investment, and deservedly so. Bad, bad Rick!

Update: here’s an earlier report on the same subject.

cpd

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stan Olshefski  |  March 7th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Let me guess, the email addresses were used to signup for these candidates:

    * Sharron Angle
    * Michele Bachmann
    * Christine O’Donnell

    Sign ups for these lists have been showing up in a lot of email lists.

  • 2. cpd  |  March 8th, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Since this piece went live, I’ve also heard that addresses used to sign up for the Cain list have been showing up elsewhere.

  • 3. Beware Online Audience Sh&hellip  |  March 8th, 2012 at 8:22 am

    [...] line: take Colin's advice and do list rentals with specific publishers who make clear where the email is coming from rather [...]

  • 4. Links for March 8, 2012 |&hellip  |  March 8th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    [...] e.politics: online advocacy tools & tactics » Spam Alert: Is Rick Santorum Buying Email Ad… [...]

  • 5. Santorum campaign caught &hellip  |  March 8th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    [...] spamming people, since they didn?t ask to get information from him,” noted the blog e.politics. “Second, a purchased list isn?t too likely to yield good [...]

  • 6. DaFly  |  March 9th, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I think what’s most telling and revelatory about this not that he was able to outright buy email addresses directly from google but just how cheap they’re sold and bandied about, after all it’s just a live address. Their personality/demographic/shopping/politcal patterns cost more… . With the merger all of google’s acquisitions under one TOS, you can pay top dollar for targeted audience profiles. (I wonder how much those cost) with a data set based upon youtube, search, &tc &tc habits for top dollar ROI.

    More than anything, it’s just the declasse nature of the last ditch flailings of a candidate grasping at straws…. and just how cheap corporation consider our cost.

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