Cheetahmail: Giving Up Email Append (YES!)

Today Ben Isaacson, the deliverability and compliance manager at Cheetahmail, posted a blog on the Cheetahmail web site, “A CheetahMail New Years’ Resolution: Giving Up Email Append”.

Ben was one of the most prominent supporters and promoters of email appending a decade ago, in the early years of ESPs and a professional email marketing industry. I don’t think that it’s unfair to say that he fought a hard rearguard action against the equally vehement opponents of email appending, among whom were counted every prominent antispam advocate. Although his entire blog is well worth reading for a summary of the history of the e-pending debate as seen from an email marketing perspective, I think that the following two sentences sum up the underlying reasons why he no longer supports this practice:

Email address turnover continues to increase, as well as the use of formerly active email addresses as ‘spamtraps’ by mailbox providers and filtering companies. The increasing deliverability risk of mailing to potentially inaccurate or invalid recipients now exceeds the value they provided in the past.

While that’s not the approach I would take to this or any issue, I find his statement all the more credible because this is exactly how a marketer (not an antispammer or tilter-at-windmills) would think. Marketers are not bad guys, but the key factor that motivates their decisions on most business-related issues is the bottom line: does it work? If the answer at any point becomes “No”, they move on to something else. Ben has concluded that email append no longer works, and is moving on to something else.

Only a few days after the MainSleaze Spam blog opened, I called out Cheetahmail because of the large numbers of bulk emails they were sending to my spamtraps. That week their spamtrap hits were excessive, and I was not pleased. Over the past three months, however, the numbers of spamtrap hits settled down. That is probably partly because of circumstances: the numbers of spamtrap hits from different ESPs and companies fluctuate. It may also be due to increased attention to identifying my spamtraps. The MainSleaze Spam blog unavoidably raised my profile among ESPs, and I’m not foolish enough to think that they can’t or don’t use the same sorts of tools and techniques that I do.

However, in the past two months, although I still see spam every day from Cheetahmail IPs, they have actually sent less spam to my spamtraps than many ESPs that I’ve long considered “whitehat”. (That’s an antispammer term for a good guy.) I would like to think that this is due at least in part to their increasing care about the customers they accept and the practices that they support. I would like to think that the numbers of spamtrap hits will continue to trend downward. <fingers crossed>

Ben, just in case the above comments didn’t make this clear, I’m delighted to see this policy change, and even happier to see the reasons for it. Thank you for making this change, and for so clearly explaining why it was the right thing to do from a marketing perspective. I expect that it will be influential, which from my point of view is all to the good.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go back to top