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Direct Mailing List

According to the latest  reviews by definition, a direct mailing list is a compilation of names and addresses used to broadcast information to numerous recipients.

George Brown sittingThe term can also be broadly used to encompass all individual subscribers of such lists, thus causing the subscribers to be clubbed together and the resultant fraternity to be denoted as the “mailing list” or simply “the list”. With the advancement of technology, the direct mailing list has given rise to its electronic version, known as the electronic mailing list or the e-mail list, that by definition is similar to the mailing list, except it employs the use of e-mail to broadcast information to Internet users.

Mailing lists are of two kinds.

  • The first, known as announcement lists, are the traditional mailing lists used primarily as a one-way information channel, to publish periodicals, newsletters and/or advertisement posters. Announcement lists allow posting to be done only by select people and are used in various fields of work as direct marketing campaigns. In the olden days, dispatch of information employing announcement lists was done using the traditional postal system, but with the evolution of e-mail and Internet, electronic mailing lists have become a very popular means of circulating publications.
  • The second form of mailing lists, known as discussion lists are more interactive forms of mailing where subscribers have authorization to post. On a discussion list, a subscriber or a member can broadcast a message or an announcement to the other members on the mailing list, any of whom can then respond with their own messages. Discussion lists promote actual discussion and information exchanges. As a result, discussion lists bring together people interested in or fascinated by similar topics. These could be individuals from the same line of work, or area of education, or leaning towards the same ideas of politics. Over time, discussion lists are gradually phasing out and giving way to discussion forums that enable threading, archiving, searching etc.

With either form of mailing lists, when identical information gets broadcast to all the individuals/corporations on the list, the action is termed as a mail-shot or a blast and the list used is termed as a distribution list. In legally sanctioned mailing lists, subscribers are given the option to subscribe and unsubscribe on their own, thus giving them control over receiving information.

Based on our latest researches and reviews quite a few organizations rent and/or sell their mailing lists. In the case of renting, the organizations renting out the mailing lists do so for only a certain period of time as agreed upon in contract with the renter. In order to enforce the time period restrictions, organizations employ a method known as “salting” in which they pepper the mailing list with some fake names and addresses unique to the time period in question. Every time the mailing list is rented out, new salts are created. However, exploitative renters attempt to identify loopholes by renting multiple lists from the same organization and cross-analyzing them to compile a legitimate list of common names and addresses.

Similar to real estate, there also exist mailing list brokers who help organizations with the renting of their mailing lists. For certain corporations such as elite publication firms or charitable trusts, mailing lists tend to be their most expensive possessions. For such organizations, brokers play a significant role in helping them make the best use of their lists and ensuring that they fetch a handsome price through rent and/or sale.

E-mail lists typically consist of a special e-mail address known as the “reflector”. The reflector is a single e-mail address, which when chosen as the recipient sends a copy of the broadcast to all the members in the list. The primary benefit of a e-mail list over a discussion-forum on the Internet is that any messages posted to the list reach the subscriber in-boxes immediately as opposed to waiting for the subscriber to log-in to the forum to check for responses.

In order to keep the mailing list updated with interested recipients, a technique called “List-washing” is employed. List-washing aims at removing individual entries from mailing lists, specifically those who have registered complaints to be taken off the mailing list. Since only a tiny percentage of those inconvenienced by the unasked-for emails actually end up registering complaints, many of those who have not subscribed voluntarily continue to stay on the list and complainers get regularly weeded. This leads to a usable “complaint-free” list of e-mail addresses that spammers often use. However, when Internet Service Providers forward complaints to the spamming party in an effort to take the complainant off the list, they end up aiding spammers in list-washing.

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