CoolSavings Debuts E-Mail Append, Claims True Opt-In

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Online direct marketing company CoolSavings is expected to debut an e-mail appending service called MatchMaker today that offers 7 million addresses.


E-mail appending is where a direct mailer's house file of postal addresses is matched to a service provider's file of supposedly opted-in e-mail addresses to add e-mail addresses to the direct mailer's postal records.


CoolSavings claims that a key difference between its append service and others is that it is truly an opt-in model. After CoolSavings has found all the names of people in its database who are customers of the MatchMaker client, CoolSavings will send those people an e-mail explaining that it is contacting them on the client's behalf and that the client would like permission to contact them, the company said. According to CoolSavings, unlike other appending services, the e-mail recipient must click through and actively give permission to be contacted by the client.


"Most of the other services don't take that step," said Ken Treske, chief marketing officer, CoolSavings, Chicago.


With many other e-mail appending services, permission for the client to contact is assumed if the recipient doesn't click through and opt out of future contact. Though that may produce extra volume, Treske said, the e-mail addresses may be worth little, or even potentially damage the brand.


"We counsel clients that you want to make sure [recipients] are engaged in your brand from the get-go," he said. "Seeking their permission and getting an affirmative response is a great step in creating that engagement."


As a result, CoolSavings' service is about four times as expensive per name than others, Treske said. Price varies by volume and other conditions, but marketers can expect to pay more than $1 per opt-in name.


News of CoolSavings' e-mail appending service is one more in a series of such announcements as demand from the client side for appending grows, and companies with databases of consumer e-mail addresses look for ways to squeeze every nickel out of them.


E-mail marketing services provider Yesmail, for example, debuted an e-mail appending service in June consisting of a database of 43 million addresses. Also in June, online lead generation service provider Aptimus Inc. debuted an e-mail appending service of 20 million addresses.


E-mail appending is controversial because of concerns over spam, but has been gathering steam in the direct marketing industry as companies seek ways to reach their customers less expensively and through multiple sales channels.


Appending's proponents contend that it is fine as long as an offline relationship exists with the person being contacted and they have a chance to opt out of future e-mail contact. But privacy advocates argue that the existence of an offline relationship with a customer is irrelevant and that without opt-in permission to contact a customer via e-mail, any e-mail sent to an appended e-mail address is spam.


The Direct Marketing Association's Association for Interactive Marketing in May signaled that the industry is moving full speed ahead with appending when it released a document outlining what it considers best practices at the DMA/AIM net.marketing Conference & Exhibition in New York.


All companies known to DM News that have debuted an e-mail append service claim to exceed those guidelines.


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