DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: Best Practices in Appending

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Adding e-mail addresses to marketing files, better known as e-mail appending, has become common because of the immediate direct savings in direct mail and call expenses. Is appending right for your company? If your customer and prospect databases are large yet contain few e-mail addresses or if there are a large number of prospective buyers or influencers, then an e-mail component makes sense as part of a multimodal marketing approach.


E-mail usually is the most cost-effective component in reaching prospects continuously over the long term. To be appended, a file should contain the full name and postal address of each record. Here are tips on best practices, how to avoid traps and how to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act:


Business versus consumer appends. Consumer e-mail appends typically are done by matching the name and address of each record to a large database of consumer names with existing e-mails. Where a match is found, the e-mail is appended to the marketer's file. Most providers in this space have built - or license access to - sites providing consumer information or giveaways to attract large numbers of consumers.


Because few business executives would register with a consumer information or giveaway site, consumer appending does not work well on business files. Business appends typically are done by creating a "profile" of a company's e-mail address format and applying this profile to the name, which creates the likely address. The person then is asked whether his e-mail may be included in the marketer's file on either an opt-in or opt-out basis depending on the marketer's specifications.


International considerations. U.S. CAN-SPAM rules are more lenient and generally allow an opt-out approach as long as the legal requirements specified in the act are complied with.


European laws are generally opt in, which means that the marketer needs specific permission from the recipient by telephone or direct mail before an e-mail may be sent. A request e-mail to ask whether the recipient may be opted in is generally not allowed in Europe, thus increasing the cost of the e-mail append service.


Asian countries vary significantly in their laws. Counsel should be retained to research each country's policies if e-mail will be sent internationally.


CAN-SPAM compliance. There were past abuses in the creation of marketing databases that CAN-SPAM specifically makes illegal. Though it is unlikely that an e-mail append company with a good reputation would engage in such practices, you should check to be sure. Specifically:


· Harvesting of e-mail addresses from sites or the WhoIs directory and then e-mailing these addresses is not allowed. Though marketers commonly hire service providers to extract names and other marketing information from sites - there now exists a whole industry involved in eDiscovery - sending directly to harvested e-mail addresses is illegal.


· Compliance with CAN-SPAM rules is essential. This includes ensuring each e-mail sent has an opt-out mechanism, your company name and postal address must appear and deceptive forging of the sender's information is not allowed, among many other requirements.


· Once a recipient requests to opt out, her e-mail address must be saved in perpetuity for suppression against any e-mail campaigns. Implement a way to safely store and back up opted-out addresses and include the recovery of this data in your disaster planning as it is crucial to compliance with CAN-SPAM.


Typical append rates and costs. The typical append rate for a consumer file is 8 percent to 14 percent. Business append rates vary between 6 percent and 40 percent depending on whether the appending company uses a consumer append process or specializes in business append processes, which yield a much higher success rate.


Costs vary dramatically by e-mail append company but the rule of thumb is 5 cents to 30 cents for consumer e-mails and 30 cents to 90 cents for business e-mails depending on volume, required accuracy and reputation of the append company.


Finding a good append provider. There are many good sources including searching on the Web for keywords such as "e-mail appending" or "business e-mail appending" if business to business. The Source Directory at the back of each DM News often lists append providers.


E-mail appending is a tried-and-true method to lower marketing costs while increasing reach and frequency, but it is important to have a strong working knowledge of the legal requirements. Adhere closely to best practices to ensure e-mail marketing is a profitable long-term component of your marketing mix.


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