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Mar 13, 2001
How To

Myth Exploded: Yes You Can Merge/Purge Rented Email Lists. Here's How

SUMMARY: Guess what? Anybody who tells you that you can't merge/purge rented email lists is wrong. In fact it's one of the biggest myths in B-to-B online marketing today.  Merge/purge, the art of checking lists against each other to eliminate duplicate names, is critical in email marketing because so many businesspeople are on more than one mailing list. Here's how you can merge/purge.
Guess what? Anybody who tells you that you can't merge/purge rented email lists is wrong. In fact it's one of the biggest myths in B-to-B online marketing today.

Merge/purge, the art of checking lists against each other to eliminate duplicate names, is critical in email marketing because so many businesspeople are on more than one mailing list. The more targeted your audience, the more likely they'll be on more than one of the lists you rent. If you don't purge duplicates, the more likely you'll annoy your best prospects by jamming their in-boxes with identical messages!

Currently many B-to-B list owners and brokers say the only merge/purge they can do is between a single rental list and your house file; and, that de-duping multiple rental files against each other is supposedly impossible. However, according to Jay Schwedelson, Corp. VP Worldata/WebConnect, who heads the Association for Interactive Media's Council for Responsible Email, this is incorrect.

He says, "Last week for a mailing, we were able to merge/purge rental lists from 15 different sources. All the major list providers including Netcreations and YesMail are willing to participate. In fact email lists are easier to merge/purge than postal lists because it's just one field."

Why then, are some list owners resisting merge/purge? Schwedelson says there are two reasons. One is that merge/purge is extra work for not much compensation. He says, "If I want to do a merge/purge on 5,000 names they may laugh at me." However, he notes B-to-B mailers can get around this by renting their lists through brokers who do enough volume on behalf of other clients that they can "leverage that relationship." Failing that, you could always offer to pay a bit more.

Schwedelson notes security fears are also a major factor when list owners say no to merge/purge. He says, "People are very insecure about sending email databases from one place to another. It's understandable because it's not very hard to abuse an email list."

However there is a fairly simple solution: instead of sending complete email addresses to be merge/purged, owners can send addresses with every other character removed. For example, instead of sending "editor@b2bmarketingbiz.com" you could send "e i o @ 2 m r e i g i . o "

Every other character is enough information to get rid of any duplicates, while not risking the chance that someone could steal your list. Schwedelson says, "This solution is completely privacy-compliant. It makes everybody happy."
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