Finding "lost" customers with e-mail append

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As we all know, it's much easier and more profitable to reactivate an old, "lost" customer, than to acquire a new one. We have learned that finding these customers, and bringing them back home through e-mail append is the most successful and cost effective way to do that.

Let's first quickly define the different types of append services that exist today.

Traditional e-mail append: You have a large customer database containing names and postal addresses of your customers…but are missing e-mail addresses. This service will match your file with a permission-based e-mail database, and provide you the e-mail addresses of your customer.

Reverse e-mail append: You have a list of e-mail addresses compiled from online Web site registrations, but don't have full name and postal information. Your subscriber file is matched with a permission-based e-mail database, and the name and mailing address of the subscriber is added to your file.

E-mail update (also called ECOA or e-mail change of address): Like many marketers, you have a robust e-mail database, but lose around 30 percent of your e-mail addresses per year because of bouncing e-mails. By using E-Mail Update Service, your invalid e-mail addresses are updated with a new deliverable e-mail address for the same customer.

AMPlify (Append, Model, Prospect): During any e-mail append project, your matched customer records can be appended with demographic and lifestyle information. This information can be used to build a profile of your online customers, which can then be used to select look-alike prospects from permission-based acquisition e-mail lists.

E-mail is such a cost-effective medium that many companies use it to help increase the value of the lower performing segments of their file or to help win back customers that have been lost.

Look at your customer database and compare the lifetime value of those customers whom you have an e-mail address for versus those that you reach only through direct mail or retail channels. The lifetime value of their customers that also receive regular marketing e-mails is three to 10 times higher than those customers who do not receive e-mail.

First we analyze how a client's homegrown customer file performs.

• Opt-in online buyers generate an ROI of 15 times the marketing investment.

• Inbound telephone buyers who then provide e-mail for offers generate a return of 10 times the marketing investment.

Here's some results from customers whose e-mail addresses were appended:

• For e-mail addresses that come from e-mail append processing, individual matches resulted in a 500 percent return over the marketing investment after one year. Household matches still generated a net return of 200 percent.

• Using e-mail update services has also been very profitable. Previous online buyers that had their e-mail address updated with a new deliverable e-mail address resulted in a 700 percent return on investment after one year.

Imagine the results if this client also had access to their most-active offline buyers.

I'd like to be 100 percent clear about something. I'm not saying that any company should stop direct mail campaigns to customers that haven't purchased from you in two years. I fully believe that e-mail is incredibly effective as part of a multichannel strategy. I also believe that e-mail has a short- and long-term branding impact.

What is obvious is that e-mail is an effective way to expand communications to your less active customers and to begin to see a monetary value from them once again.

As a marketer, it is critical to your success to get the word out about your products through various marketing channels, and to let your customer decide where and how they wish to respond. If the rising cost of printing and sending direct mail doesn't allow you to dig deep into your customer file, then sending e-mails can be a great way to re-engage these customers.

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