The DMA and Spamhaus

An unfortunate thing happened today to the direct marketing industry’s premier association — the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  As reported in BtoB Online by Chris Hosford, the DMA has recently had a problem of getting their email messages caught in spam-traps and has had their IP’s and sender domains black-listed and blocked by Spamhaus (the largest email marketing watchdog organization).

In the article, people from the DMA, Spamhaus, and Trendline Interactive weigh in on how this could have happened, lessons learned from it, and what should be done in the future to prevent this.  Obviously, the DMA is focused on fixing the problem and figuring out how it occurred in the first place.

Because the DMA is the face of the direct marketing industry, this is very embarrassing and I’m sure they are absolutely appalled that this has occurred.  According to DMA Board Member and managing director of marketing consultancy Winterberry Group, Bruce Biegel:

“Where did this happen in the administration process?” Biegel said. “What were the signals that were missed that had to be paid attention to? This is question not just for DMA but for any marketer.”

This is a problem that can impact any marketer who does not have rigorous processes in place to clean their data sources.  Email data quality is exactly why we created our OMI Clean-Send suppression database.  First of all, any marketer should ensure that their email database stays pristine by updating it on a consistent basis (we update our entire consumer database monthly).  Email addresses (particularly ISP domain email addresses) erode really quickly.  Organizations like Spamhaus are in existence to find you  and block you from sending more messages if you don’t clean and update your database. And they will blacklist you for not doing this work upfront.

Additionally, by using a suppression file of known bad email data — including spam-traps — you can save valuable marketing dollars and protect your sender reputation, thereby preventing this sort of thing from happening to your company.  We recommend that our heavy email marketing Clients utilize OMI Clean-Send monthly to rid their databases of as much negative or “bad” email data as possible.  And one of the categories that we collect on this database are spam-traps.

Organizations like Spamhaus do a good job of catching the spammers — which is a great service to all of us.  But they also can hold up good, honest marketers who are simply using email as another direct marketing channel in which to communicate with customers and prospects.  If all marketers kept their databases updated and clean, this would happen a lot less often.

As, Morgan Stewart, CEO of email consulting firm Trendline Interactive pointed out:

“You don’t get into bad trouble if you’re watching the ship,” Stewart said. “But somebody wasn’t paying attention. Shame on them. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call.”

If nothing else, all marketers can learn from this experience.  There is no doubt that you must direct market respectfully and responsibly.  And the DMA will be the first organization to agree with this statement.  Keeping your email databases up-to-date and cleaned is the first step towards accomplishing this goal.


2 Responses

  1. Thank you for informing us about the e-mail marketing watchdog agency Spamhaus and reminding us of the importance of keeping our customer databases updated.

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