Building an email list is still a good way to create a base for contacts, no matter what business you are in. You can use the list for simple announcements, providing offers for discounts, or creating leads for your business.

There are some pitfalls to creating the list, especially if it is from emails that you receive through your website, however.

First, there are some things you need to know about email. For simplicity, here is a rough idea of how you get email.

A person sends an email through your website. That email goes through an email server at your website host. That email server looks up the email address you are sending to and then forwards it to the email server closest to that email address. Sometimes it will go directly to the recipient, but most of the time, receiving email servers validate the email address first for security reasons. (For more specific information, you can get it at WikiBooks, Internet Technologies/Routing Email.)

Spammers like to phish, (“fish”), for valid email addresses so that can use them for their own purposes. For instance, once a spammer knows an email address of is valid, they will open a domain name, establish any email account they want and then as an alias, send out hundreds of thousands of email using

What effect does that have on you? Anytime an email address is marked as spam by incoming email servers, in short order that email address is shown on blacklists which all email servers refer to. Show up on a blacklist and your email starts bouncing back to you. To get yourself removed from blacklists is another subject entirely but rest assured, it requires a lot of work to get your email accepted again.

So what does all of this mean? You have to be very careful when sending email out using email addresses you may have gotten through your website. Spammers will complete your website form simply to verify the email address on your website is valid so they can start using it. Sometimes the email will bounce back and they won’t use it, sometimes it will. So if you answer an email address, you just validated it and they know it is a good one.

It can complicate things more if you do mass email. If you send out a mass email to 40 email addresses, and one of those email addresses you included happens to be a spam email address, you just contributed 40 occurrences of spam using your email address. So even if your email address is valid, and your intent was not to send out spam, you just did and risk blacklisting your own email address.

So the bottom line is this: Make sure the email address you include in your email campaign list is valid. If your website form contains a phone number, look it up and see if it matches the email address or name of the person that supposedly sent it. Do a simple Google search for that email address and see if it shows up. Just verify the information you are using and you should be safer in using it.