Here is a piece of ‘harvester’ software that extracts emails from Craigslist. It’s appropriately called Craigslist Extractor. What it does is let you select categories and keywords from Craigslist ads and run the software against your query. You are then rewarded with a downloadable file with hundreds or thousands of email addresses to use for marketing.
Is this legal? I suppose there is a way to send emails to complete strangers and still be CAN SPAM compliant. You would have to show a real return address, a postal address, and offer a way to opt out of the emails (among other things). So the results could potentially be used legally.
How about ethical? Well let’s take a scenario. Suppose you sold motorcycle helmets on eBay. If you extracted the emails of those people who placed ads in the Motorcycle category, it’s possible (although a bit of a stretch) to think a good percentage of them might be interested in your product.
Is it effective? I don’t know – I wouldn’t use it myself. I’m not sure how I would approach these people.
Hi, I scraped your email off of Craigslist and thought you might like…
No.. that wouldn’t work. How about:
Hello, I saw your motorcycle ad on Craigslist and thought you might be interested in …
Perhaps. At any rate, I would much rather send email to people have opted in to hear from me. How about you? What do you think of software like Craigslist Extractor?