Stop or go on email appending?

Stop or go on email appending?

OK, you have a file of your customers’ physical addresses and you want to enjoy the efficiencies and effectiveness of email marketing to them.  How?

You could engage a database company to match postal records to the email records in their database. When a “match” is found the database company will add that record (with the new email address) to what’s called an “append” file.

They usually send a “welcome” email to the entire append file complete with an opt-out only link and then send the file back to you.

Sounds great, eh? A dream come true.

Maybe not.  The file has NOT been properly opted-into and could cause serious delivery problems for you.

If you decide to go that route, Ryan Deutsch of StrongMail Systems offers this advice:

1. Only append active customer files. Do not append inactive or “stale” customer files. These result in poor match rates and are riskier than active customer files. Furthermore, it is critical that these customers pass the PBR (Prior Business Relationship) test. As a general rule, be sure that the customer has purchased and/or interacted with your organization in the last 12 months. If you append bad data you will…destroy your deliverability.

2. Build an append-specific communication strategy. You should not treat your appended email recipients the same way you treat subscribers that have been on your file for months and years. First, make sure you isolate your append mailings from your core programs. While I believe opt-out appends can deliver value to a marketer, we must accept that this file IS riskier than the house file. As a result, keeping it separate limits any negative impact the program will have on your existing email campaigns. Second, develop a series of communications that repurpose email content for the appended addresses, and be sure to place opt-out front and center and continually remind recipients how they ended up on the email list. Be transparent; your customers will appreciate it.

3. Build rules to migrate append addresses to your house file over time. As time goes by, proactively migrate appended addresses into your house file. Migration should be based on specific recipient activity (clicks, purchases, etc.) Companies can build these rules to apply to their unique business models.

Discussion on Ryan’s blog post includes thumbs up and down.  Whatever your choice, deliver quality content to recipients and they’re less likely to unsubscribe or hit the “spam” button.