OT: Mail list cleaning

Alex Broens ms-list at alexb.ch
Mon Mar 16 17:24:47 GMT 2009

On 3/16/2009 4:53 PM, Dan Carl wrote:
> Paul Welsh wrote:
>> Thanks for the responses, everyone.
>> To give some background, the company I work for has about 50,000
>> customer email addresses collected over years but not used yet.  The
>> idea is to start using them.  The customers were told we'd be sending
>> marketing material by email but it was on the basis of "we will email
>> you unless you write to us" basis - this was part of their finance
>> agreement with us.
>> The Marketing dept said wanted to "clean" the list before emailing all
>> the customers to tell them about our soon-to-be-launched new web site,
>> hence the idea of checking the addresses.
>> My initial response was to send the message and clean the list on the
>> basis of the bounce backs and unsubscribe requests.
>> I did find a few $30 type apps on the web such as email verifier here
>> - www.maxprog.com.  You can import a file of addresses and the app
>> then does an MX lookup and then an SMTP helo, mail from and rcpt to on
>> each address.  The results can be exported to a tab delimited file.
>> All well and good I thought, but then I saw the excludes list and
>> noted that nearly all the popular providers like Yahoo, BTOpenWorld,
>> AOL, etc, were excluded.  It dawned on me that these providers don't
>> do any address checking prior to accepting a message for delivery -
>> presumably to circumvent spammers using dictionary attacks to figure
>> out which addresses are valid.
>> It strikes me that we need a "proper" mailing list application to
>> process the bounce backs and unsubscribes.  Any suggestions?  Is
>> unsubscribing via a web link the way to go these days?
> I use bulkmail-perl, it's not fancy but if you don't mind working from 
> terminal. It does the job.
> You can send both text and html messages with it. Then just put a link 
> to a web page for people of unsubscribe.
> If you have 50,000 email list thats old. I'd be really surprised if half 
> of them are still valid.
> A majority of people change their email addresses quite often for 
> whatever reason.
> You may want to try sending an email out to all of them with some kind 
> of an incentive for them to reply back.
> Then you'll have a "clean" list.

and possibly be blacklisted if you hit traps - what you want to do is 
technically simple - but the methods and possible outcome are not trivial.

Get advice from a decent ESP before you ruin your reputation.
(sadly ESPs standards are falling and they're all letting their pants 
down for a buck)

have fun.


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