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Email Append Best Practices

Email Append is the single fastest and most cost effective way to build your customer email marketing database.  Email append is the process of merging a database of customer information that lacks email addresses with third party email append databases in an attempt to match name and postal and append an email address.  Email Append is supported by the DMA and 100% Can-Spam Compliant assuming you follow these best practices.

Customers YES, Prospects NO
The practice of email appending is only acceptable if the recipient is a customer or has initiated a previous business relationship with the marketer.  By the loosest definition customers are individuals who have purchased a product or service from the marketer, donated to the marketer, or signed up for the marketer’s subscription service. A previous business relationship may be established based on prior correspondence initiated by the recipient, or requests for information from that individual, or a response to a questionnaire, or a response to a survey, or a responses to sweepstakes/contest, or some sort of proven offline contact initiated by the recipient.

If you run an email append on a prospect file to people who did not willingly volunteer their information to your company you are breaking the law.  Following the rules of Can-Spam are simple, but if you initiate in an email append to prospects you will invariably get in trouble.

Choose Carefully
Email append can be cost effective, but choosing the wrong append partner can be the most costly marketing mistake you ever make.  Therefore, choosing a legitimate append partner with expertise in permission email marketing and privacy policies is extremely important.  This append partner should have a thorough understanding of the DMA’s guidelines surrounding email append and be able to demonstrate this expertise.

Understand the Matching
Are you matching based on string level logic or is it based on a more complicated algorithm?  Your append partner should be able to explain this in relatively simple terms.  If they cannot explain this initial question, imagine how difficult things will be if a more complex situation arises.

Household or Individual
There are two types of matching for consumer based email append campaigns; Household matching and Individual Matching.  A Household match means that the last name and the street address successfully matched and email.  An Individual match means that the first name, last name, and the street address successfully matched an email.  Household matching yields a much higher matching percentage; however it may not be appropriate for certain business models (e.g. Financial Services).

Source of Appended Email
Insure that your append provider can provide the source of the email address should you have a problem with a consumer in the future.  The number of complaints generated by an email append is typically very low, however if someone complains you want to be able to provide them the source of their name first and remove them from your database immediately.

Prior to sending a welcome message to successfully appended email addresses it is important to run a series of suppressions.  First, you should suppress your Can-Spam database. Second, you should choose a provider who can run a global suppression which will remove bounces, known complainers, blacklist email domains, DMA do not email file, and additional domain suppressions.  These levels of suppression will insure a smooth delivery of your welcome mail and minimize any complaints.

Scrub Bounces
It is standard industry practice for the append provider to send an initial email (also called a Welcome Mail) to remove any bounces from the appended database.  This is standard industry practice, and any provider who does not wish to do this is likely questionable.

The “Welcome Email”
The Welcome Email sent to consumers may be their first exposure to your brand in an online atmosphere (also called Permission Mailing or Permission Pass).  Keeping that in mind, you should set a strong permission tone in the message and be very clear about your future intentions with their email address.

  • The From Line should be the Advertiser’s Name
  • The Subject Line should be succinct, relevant and never misleading.
  • You should list the benefits of future messaging to the consumer within the body of the email in a concise fashion.
  • You should NOT try and sell anything to the recipient in the Welcome Mail.  The purpose of this email is to gain their permission; you will have plenty of time to sell to them later.
  • The message MUST contain an opt-out link allowing anyone who wants to opt-out of future messaging to do so.
    The message must contain the Advertiser’s postal address in order to be Can-Spam Complaint.
  • We recommend this message should stay live for a minimum of 10 days to allow consumers the optimal amount of time to opt-out.
  • Do not treat reply requests as unsubscribes
  • Collect all opt-outs and add them to your Can-Spam file to be suppressed against future mailings.

Start Messaging Immediately
It is paramount to have messaging prepared in advance to send to your new database once the course of the Welcome Mail is complete.  You have just initiated a new dialogue with these people and you need to strike while the iron is hot.  If you sit on this data too long post Welcome Mail it can become stale and unresponsive.  You should have a retention mailing prepared to send within a week of receiving the appended records (post Welcome Mail).

The appended records should perform a lot like your existing retention database, however it is important to track them separately from your organically grown database.  The more tracking that you make available, the more knowledge you will have of your customer base and the easier it will be to demonstrate the ROI of the appended email addresses.

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