4 E-mail Appending Best Practices
If you've been in the e-mail marketing space for a while, you've no doubt heard numerous debates on using e-mail appends to grow your list. If you're just entering the space and wondering what I'm talking about, it involves adding a missing e-mail address to a customer record in your database, which typically is done through a third-party provider.
Sounds easy, but it's controversial. The e-mail append process isn't so straightforward and can be a risky endeavor with no guarantee of reward. On the other hand, done responsibly, you can minimize the risks and boost your list size in the process.
I'm not going to tell you whether e-mail appends are right for your business. But if you are considering them, here are some things to think about:
1. Know your list. It might seem obvious, but make sure the customer list you send to an e-mail append vendor only contains active subscribers. If the customer wouldn't recognize a prior relationship with your brand, you shouldn't try to append the record.
2. Know the vendor's reputation. You can minimize some of the risks by researching the various e-mail append vendors to determine which have the best reputations. Once you think you've found a good one, ask about its list acquisition practices as well as how it handles bounces, unsubscribes and complaints.
3. Opt-in vs. opt-out. After the e-mail append vendor makes the match, it will send either an opt-in or opt-out e-mail to the matched addresses letting recipients know your intention to connect with them via e-mail. If you go with opt-out, you will get more addresses but likely generate a number of complaints that can damage your e-mail reputation. Opt-in is definitely the safer and preferred route. By asking recipients to opt in, you know you are building your list with individuals who are interested in hearing from you.
According to StrongMail Systems customer Equifax, which performs e-mail append services for its clients, you can expect to append addresses to approximately 12 percent to 18 percent of your file.
4. Protect your house list. In order to protect your house list, you should keep the addresses received from the e-mail append separate. Not until recipients respond should they be integrated with your housefile. In fact, I recommend sending to the append list from a separate IP, just in case you get a bad batch of e-mail addresses.
Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services for Redwood City, Calif.-based StrongMail Systems. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.