Safelists: What Are They and How Do They Make Money

    December 4, 2002

Until several months ago, I’d heard the term “safelist” but had no idea what a safelist was. Well, I did a little research, and now administer two safelists: one established and profitable, and the other brand new. Here’s what I found…

So, What Is a Safelist? In essence, a safelist is a members-only mailing list; a kind of giant email marketing co-op. Members join the safelist and are allowed to send email messages (primarily promotional) to the other list members. Many safelists are free, or have a free membership option, while others may charge a one-time fee or recurring subscription.

To send to the list, members log in to the safelist’s webpage and create an email message. The script then sends the message from the list’s address. Recipients recognize safelist messages because they are sent from the safelist address.

Isn’t That SPAM? No, it isn’t spam. Spam is unsolicited commercial email. By joining a safelist members are indicating that they do wish to receive this type of email. This is the very concept of a safelist.

Why, Then, Would Any Sane Person Join a Safelist? In return for receiving emails from other safelist members, each member may send messages to the list advertising his or her own site or product. Since the biggest obstacle to online success is getting people to visit your site, and the membership size of safelists grow at an amazing rate, the ability to send spam-free email marketing messages is valuable.

Why Use a Safelist? Why Not Buy a Mailing List? First, the folks on a purchased mailing list have not consented to receive your email. That’s spam.

Second, all email addresses on a safelist are good. Safelist administrators and scripts automatically remove accounts without a valid email address from the safelist. Safelist members, many of whom have paid for their memberships, do not want to be removed, and therefore, they do not subscribe with bogus email addresses.

Third, since memberships in a safelist grow so quickly, they don’t “go stale”. There is a constant influx of new members who want to see your message.

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