How to Buy, Test and Use a Mailing List!

    August 19, 2003

I just bought 2,500 leads from an opt*in mailing list vendor. They sell each record only twice, advertise a “penny per lead” guaranteed, have average 25% “bounce” so included an extra 1,000 names — 3,500 names for $25.00.

I had a greater percentage of “bounces” and was sent more leads…from the size of the file, probably a lot more. This is a general interest list. I can use it over and over again. Which means I —

* Save and Backup the Original Database!
* Copy it to a Master Database
* Send out to Master Database
* Trash all the “bounces”
* Copy the “cleaned” Master Database to My Database
* Delete all my “uns*ubscri*bes”
* Send My Database out again with My new message
* Copy the “cleaned” Master Database to My Partner’s Database
* Send out to Partner’s Database
* Delete all Partner’s “uns*ubscri*bes”
* Send Partner’s Database out again with Partner’s new message

The reason I keep the Original Database? It includes many physical addresses. Later, when I develop my own product(s), I can snail-mail my offer(s) to them. Their email might bounce, but if they gave an honest address, there is a chance they will still be there. Yes, there is much more to marketing your product than only via the Internet.

The Original Database

I received my List as an email attachment. It was formatted Comma Delimited, with Quotation Marks, ASCII Text. An excellent format for importing into any database. It is beyond the scope of this article to tell how I was able to bring this file into Paradox, my preferred-at-this-time database.

Hindsight — During an intermediate phase, using my wordprocessor, I should have converted all records to “Initial Caps.” This would have given me a better working model when I sorted my database on various fields.

I first sorted on the Address field and visually inspected it. No obvious or easily detectable bad ones. I chanced, however, to notice somebody was “” — so likely there were other mistakes, intentional or not.

Then I sorted on the Firstname field. OUCH! Many were real. Some were blank. Others fit the “abcd” phony category. And I caught several malicious “profanity” ones. NOTE: Do NOT personalize your first use of this list! Would YOU appreciate receiving a personalized, “Dear Sh~~head”? I believe I got rid of all these and personalized. There is high probability these might bounce anyway.

I also sorted on the Date field when each record op*ted in. This was done over 12 months ago! So this is an older list…but with some validity.

Analyze my “bounces”

Over 2,000 bounces. I left the “OverQuota” on. I left the “Timeout, Will Try Again” on. I left the few “Not Accepting Mail from This Sender – User Unknown” — I never sent to them before! Maybe my partner will get through.

I deleted bounced @AOL, @Hotmail, @Yahoo and @Address. I deleted other bounced addresses I felt were legitimate.

Will I buy more leads from this source? Yes — depending upon how many respond positively. I already have several “removes” — so I know I’m getting through.


This is a numbers game. I will set my mailing list on “automatic” and get information on how many bounces. I will tell the list owner and they will provide more leads to bring my pay per lead down to a penny. Additionally, I will not personalize my first-time “test-the-waters” mailing piece. Once I clean my list I will.

My “Test-the-Waters” Mailing Piece

Here is a copy of my final mailing piece —

Robert Leggett has over 10 years experience marketing the scuba industry over the Internet. His focus has changed. Robert works with individuals and business owners all over the world. He helps them succeed in business and achieve financial independence. Visit him at – Subscribe to his “Free for Life” newsletter – “CyberSpaceMarketeer” – Receive your Free eBook.