Your Email Address Is Not Good Enough for Us.

low-brow email addresses need not apply

Low-brow email addressees need not apply? What’s up with that? Some content owners have started getting fussy about the addresses their prospects give.

My colleague, Merle Tenney, announced his upcoming presentation in a webinar some weeks back. It was sponsored by a content quality software company I’ll call Katzenjammer, just because I’ve been itching to use that as a pseudonym lately.

Merle says important things, and I want to hear them. I went to the registration form on the Katzenjammer site.

I sign up for several of these events each month, so it was with considerable surprise that I beheld the response after I clicked the Submit button:



Requiring an email address from a “non-free provider” struck me as a bit cheeky. I felt like Johnny Halladay singing “Quoi ma gueule ? Qu’est-ce qu’elle a ma gueule ?” So, what’s wrong with my email address? So what if it’s free?

The marketing managers at Katzenjammer have probably worked out that people who use a Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, Hotmail or otherwise unpaid email address are not very serious prospects. If you have a free email address, you probably cannot afford Katzenjammer’s products, and if you can afford them and use a free email address anyway, then you’re probably still not a good prospect.

I suppose it works for them.

Free email users are lousy prospects

I thought it uncool of Katzenjammer to decline my email address so brusquely. Am I a lousy prospect for them? Sure, but if all you want are prospects with a high probability of conversion, why issue a cattle call for attendees? Many are called, but few are desirable, I guess.

Besides, Katzenjammer wasn’t the draw; Merle was. “Merle, we want you to headline our webinar, but we’re not going to allow people to register with a crummy email address, because it doesn’t serve our purposes.” Is that how they pitched it to him?

I guess Katzenjammer knows that most people flick in a throwaway address that they rarely check. On the one hand, I understand Katzenjammer’s thinking; on the other, if they provided only valuable content – like Merle’s webinar – and focused more on what’s in it for attendees than what’s in it for Katzenjammer, they wouldn’t have to worry about what they consider sub-standard email addresses.

Blame it on the email provider

Some weeks later I tried to sign up for a free webinar from MarketingProfs, that venerable fount of marketing wisdom. They too are tired of cheap email addresses, but they’re using a perfectly Teflon pretext and blaming their email provider:

MarketingProfs complains, “Sorry, your email address is being blocked by our email provider.” Of all the nerve.

I could be wrong about this. Maybe there are spam issues at work here. Maybe the script kiddies soak up all the available seats in the webinar and cause admin headaches. But if that were the problem, wouldn’t you use a simple Captcha?

On the other hand, if I want the webinar badly enough, isn’t it worth giving up my non-free address, then just unsubscribing if I don’t like whatever else they send me?

If it’s free, then you’re the product.

…says Chris Dancy, and he’s right.

There’s a tacit understanding that, if the webinar is free, then I’m the product. But if I pollute my value as the product by using a free email address, the deal is off now. What does that bode for deviously clever sites like, which obligingly give you an address for an hour, and even let you play a game while you wait for your reply?

Are you dissing prospects with free email addresses? Is it working out for you? How many hours have you spent tinkering with that, instead of just generating arrestingly valuable content?


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”