Today's Your Lucky Day: You've Won An Anatomy Of An E-Mail Sweepstakes List

You are about to read something that I bet you have never read before: The complete deconstruction of an opt-in, co-registration, email sweepstakes list. You know the kind I mean: sign up to receive a free "fill in the blank here" and opt-in to "receive messages from our marketing partners." Or should I say opt-out from receiving them since the check boxes are conveniently filled in for you. In fact, from now on when I say, "opt-in," think "didn't opt-out."

But if you have ever signed up for any of those offers, I bet you never knew what you were letting yourself into. Who are these marketing partners anyway, and why is my email box suddenly overflowing? The fact is, that while spam is a real problem, much of the email problem could be controlled by regulating the semi-legitimate world of co-reg email marketing and making those offering such co-registration opportunities accountable for the actions and transgressions of their partners.

In fact, at MediaPost's recent Media Forecast 2004 conference, one of the panelists said just that: "I'd love to know, when I opt in to a list, just who those marketing partners are that I'm opting in to." Well, now you can.

I recently analyzed a number of these lists and the results were fascinating. So much so that I've decided to make the deconstruction of an actual list a regular feature of this column.

For this exercise, I decided to take a look at three different lists and examine the emails I received from each during the first week after opting in. I then took one of those lists and listed all the marketing partners, individual lists, and brands that were screaming for my attention as a result of signing up for the chance to receive those 50 free blank CD's.

I'm just going to touch on the highlights, as there isn't space to provide the entire list here. But those interested in receiving the full list can email me at bill@emerging.com to see the full breakdown, of list providers, lists, and advertisers.

As a point of comparison, I took a look at three different lists: Jackpot.com, Coupons & Free Samples, and American-Giveaways. At the end of the first week of opting in to Jackpot.com I had received 59 emails. A week into Coupons and Free Samples, I had added an additional 110 emails into my inbox. And then, the mother lode: a single American Giveaway's sweepstakes opt-in netted me a whopping 216 emails into my inbox.

The original opt-in for American Giveaways (AG from here on) listed about 10 marketing partners, but like six degrees of separation some of those marketing partners opted me in to receive messages from their marketing partners. In the end, I had received 216 emails from 142 individual brands from 53 separate lists controlled by 38 list providers. Whoa.

Some of the partners were highly legitimate email marketers like Virtumundo, whose emails are always clearly marked and with a clear opt-out that worked. Others, like the email offering to get me a Green Card if I entered a "Green Card Lottery," was delivered by a company listed as "Deactivated" in the Whois database. If you want to write them, their email in Whois is listed as deactivated@deactivated.com and they are from the town of Deactivated. Obviously a marketing partner you can trust!

Some email providers, like the mysterious MX07, based in Manhattan, have a series of branded email lists they send out like "The Platinum List," "Top Offers By Mail," "Cool Cat Network," "Art and Education Network," "Anne's Gifts and Coupons," "Elite Mailing List," and "Better Health for Better Life," none of which seem to have any particular connection to the offers they carry. For instance, The Platinum List's advertisers that week included Attract Romance.com, Collectables Today, Foreclosure Training, and the human growth hormone product Grow Lean 15. Top Offers By Mail was pitching Foreclosure Leads, Free Video Games.com, American Life Insurance Company, and Old Port Casino. The Art and Education List on the other hand was promoting the wonders of OnlineDrugsRX, Automotive.com, and Professional Career Development Institute. If you can find the secret connection between these offers and their branded email lists, you win the chance to win 50 Blank CDs .

Some providers changed their email domains faster than Cher at a Final Tour concert. For instance, The E Offer Store sent out emails from the following domain names: knuckmac.com, windsdas.net, grandcby.com, robsdas.com, and poldnl.com. Their advertisers, for the most part, had a slightly familiar ring: Emergency Debt Relief, Get Paid Driving.com, Pay Day Right Away, Free Cellular, 123 Ink Jets.com, and Get Free Perfume.com, among others.

The sure winner though, from shear volume, is Meditay, LLC, which sends out emails under the names Outstanding Values.com and Meta-Deals.com. Thirty-three separate brands sent out emails via Meditay's lists including Choose a Degree.com, Cosmopolitan, Robert G Allen, and Book of the Month Club during the first week of the AG opt-in.

Here, then, is a list of all the marketing partners that we received emails from the first week after opting in to the AG list: 142 Brands, Jagged Mind Media, Inc, Quick Turn Mentors, Virtumundo, Inc, Beyond Specials, MailGravity, Inc. DestinyWeb, Meditay, LLC, Rapid E Biz, Mindshare Design, Success Marketing Systems, Inc, MX07.com, Global Point Media, LLC, IExpect.com, Inc, Destiny Web, Digital Moses, LLC, 0123Search.com, The E Offer Store, All Savings Group, N-Light, E-clk.com, Topica, Inc, DazeNetworks, Krawtzki Anthony, SimplyDeliverable.com, SavingsSolutions, Deactivated, The PlanetClick Holding Co, RealTime Marketing, Stibox Marketing, LLC, SRC Technologies, EZSweeps, Media Soft, LLC, Credit Com Inc, Blue Rocket Online Media, and OptInRealBig.com, LLC.

Email insider Bill McCloskey is president and CEO of Emerging Interest, a company dedicated to educating the Internet advertising and marketing industry about rich media and other emerging advertising and marketing technologies. Emerging Interest has developed the Computer Email Tracking System (CETS), a competitive email tracking tool for marketers.

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