email list cleaning myths

Bulk Email vs Spam

If you want to get into a heated debate, then discuss bulk email vs spam. This topic will continue to be controversial as long as email remains the #1 ROI (Return On Investment) in the digital marketing world. To begin to understand the difference, we have to look at the definitions as a starting point. Before we do that, let’s look at a few Bulk Email Myths that will get answered along the way.


Bulk Email Myths

  • Everyone tells me bulk email is illegal – False
  • bulk email is the same as Spam – False
  • Is bulk email a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003? – False
  • I can bulk email without following the rules – False

Spam is without question one of the most abusive sources of email we get everyday in our inbox no matter how strong we set our inbox spam filter. The problem, nobody can even get the definition of spam correct, not even Merriam-Webster. Using the part of the definition that is correct, we define it as the following;


  • (noun) irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.
  • (verb) send the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet.

How is Bulk Email Different?

So that is the same as bulk email, right? Wrong. We will use an analogy that we can all relate to. You walk to the mailbox to get your mail. You open up the box and there are all the flyers and credit card offers and catalogs that you hate to get because you never look at them so you just have to throw them away.

Some of those ads just sent out to all addresses blindly without regard to who might be on the other end. You want to call or send a letter to the company to stop receiving those ads, but there is no phone number or address on the advertisement. Finally, you get in touch with the company to remove yourself from their mailing list, but you keep getting the ad week after week with no end. You file a complaint and even talk to anyone who will listen to get yourself off of the mailing list. All to no avail. That is spam.

Bulk Email & CAN-SPAM

Bulk email, by comparison, are ads that you receive, but they are clearly marked as ads. When you want to no longer receive these ads, you have a clearly defined way of stopping them. These can be sent to unsolicited recipients (any address) as advertisement for products or services, but you have to follow the rules. In fact, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 clearly and explicitly states that recipients can receive unsolicited mail as long as you adhere to the guidelines found in the Act ( That is the difference between Bulk Email vs Spam.

Since the Act was passed, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has largely not enforced any of these guidelines anyway. It is still important from a liability perspective to make sure that you follow the rules. Nobody likes “junk” mail, but as long as it is effective companies will continue to use it for a good reason. It produces results. That is where an ESP (Email Service Provider) who is knowledgeable on the rules and guidelines comes into play. Bulk email is not the same as spam, but it can easily cross over the line and become spam which opens you up to liability.

ProShark is an expert in email services, list cleaning and email management. Bulk email wisely.

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First Step to Successful Email Marketing

Email Marketing Mastery

Everyone says email marketing works great, but my results are horrible. I get nothing but complaints, I get shut down all the time and I get almost no response. What am I doing wrong?

Email Marketing

Still the #1 ROI in marketing, email is the absolute best way to reach the largest audience

Do It Right

Why doesn't it work for you? Because people don't know how to do it right. Learn more...

Warm List vs Cold List Marketing

One of the biggest lies you have been told is that it is not legal to market to cold lists or that there is no value in marketing to cold lists. While you will always get better response and click-thru rate from a warm list, you have to start somewhere. There is nothing wrong with marketing to a cold list as long as you follow the laws of the country where you are emailing.

Hot List

A hot list or warm list is a list of emails and contacts that have chosen to receive your marketing messages. Even if you are mailing to a double opt in list, you can still get spam traps, but how? Do hygiene.

Cold List

A cold list is a list of emails / contacts that you have not marketed to before. It is still legal to market to this list. Just make sure you clean the moles, seeds, traps and honey pots first, then do it right.

First Step to Great Email Marketing

Email marketing is relatively simple, but then why do so many people have a problem emailing or building their lists or getting a solid return on their email marketing platform investment? That answer is simple too. They have been learning all the wrong things. While email is simple, it is complex in the sense that you have to do certain things to make sure it will work for you.

First of all, let me be clear. Emailing, like any other marketing tool, is an investment. It is not a one time and I will be a bazillionaire marketing method. In fact, there is no marketing method that is a super tool - send it out one time and I will get a ton of returns. It all takes effort and persistence.

Email is no different. You have to send campaign after campaign, and you want to test and segment. You want to see what works and improve on that while seeing what doesn't work and avoiding that. "Well," you say, "that is all fine and dandy, but I don't know how to do any of that." That is okay, we do.

You probably want to start with our managed email services where we do all the work for you. In fact, you can work along side of us until you get the hang of it and then begin creating your own campaigns. Or perhaps, like many of our other clients, you are happy with us doing the heavy lifting.

Campaigns can be as simple or complex as you like, but really there are only 2 simple goals when you run campaigns. We will get into those with the next blog.

So what is the FIRST STEP to successful email marketing? Simple. Take care of your list. If you have a warm list that you have been using for a good length of time, the general rule of thumb is that you clean it once every six months to a year at a minimum. "But it is an opt in list", you say. "How do I get spam traps in my opt in list?"

What happens on an email list is that sometimes emails that are no longer used by the recipient revert back to the isp who will then use the email as a trap to put a stop to spammers. The problem is that you pay the price because this email, even though once valid, is now a spam trap designed to get you onto a blacklist. We will explain blacklists in more detail later in the series.

So you either need to despam your warm list periodically or you need to verify your opt ins on a regular basis. Either method will work, but the re-opt in method will cost you more potential subscribers.

On a cold list, email cleaning isn't even an option. Most email platforms won't even let you upload your own list for the very reason that you will contaminate their platform with spam traps. If you want a cold list friendly platform that lets you upload your own lists - here we are.

Why are spam traps so damaging? Think of it this way. You have an alarm company. If someone tries to break into your house, the alarm goes off and the police are notified. Getting on a blacklist is the same thing and it will significantly diminish the delivery of your email servers. A spam trap is a trick to get you listed on a blacklist. Once you are there, it isn't easy getting off. Let us know if you need help.

Is Validating the same as List Cleaning or List Hygiene? No and this is a very common misconception. List validation goes through and verifies that either the email exists and won't hard bounce. Validation can also often include checking the domain or email for invalid configuration.

List Cleaning or List Hygiene on the other hand, runs an email through multiple algorithms including external lists, email configuration and role removal to remove moles, seeds, spam traps, keys and honey pots to make sure you stay off of blacklists.

So be prepared to take the first step to successful email list marketing and CLEAN YOUR LIST. How much does List Cleaning / List Hygiene cost? That depends on the size of your list. Get an exact price here - Less than a million, select a price on the left side. More than a million select the amount on the right side.

Learn more here. If you have any questions, please contact us here.