Append to raise revenue from house file

Which of your marketing programs produces the greatest ROI as a percentage of sales? For most mailers, the answer is the house file e-mail program. Customers and prospects who have provided their e-mail address to you are a gold mine. This is a quantifiable fact that few marketers can argue. That fact makes the disparity between the return from a house e-mail program and the effort direct marketers put into building their e-mail list difficult to reconcile.

It always disappoints me to hear a client say it would be great to increase the size of its house e-mail file but the task has not risen to the top of the to-do list. Even with time and resource constraints, expanding your house e-mail file has never been easier. You could even enjoy the benefits of doing so this holiday season.

You can achieve this by focusing on existing customers whom you have not previously e-mailed because you lack their address. How, you ask? Append e-mail addresses to customers for whom you have only a postal address.

E-mail append is a mainstream process and one that produces results for marketers of all types. It lets you communicate with a customer who already has transacted with you. After all, existing customers are always your best prospects for future orders.

I constantly hear that “e-mail append is not right for my customers because they cherish their privacy.” The argument is always: “If my customer wanted to provide their e-mail address, they would have done so already.”

Typically, customers don’t consciously decide to not provide their e-mail address. More often the Web site failed to adequately ask for it. A marketer should use all acceptable, ethical methods of e-mail capture and, most importantly, ask for the address.

However, even with an aggressive capture program, you probably still have a number of customers for whom you lack an e-mail address. That means you have a chance to increase the house file by appending e-mail addresses.

E-mail append is a database marketing project involving matching your customer’s physical address with an external opt-in e-mail database. A matched record also will receive a permission mailing advising the customer of your business’s interest in communicating with them electronically.

Reputable providers of this service adhere to the Direct Marketing Association’s e-mail append best practices guidelines and comply with CAN-SPAM. This level of regulation and your own scrutiny of the process will protect the integrity of your customers’ privacy needs and rights.

As for results, our clients have found that an appended e-mail name will not produce the same results as an e-mail name gathered naturally. However, an appended e-mail name usually produces better results than any other prospect name. Our experience has shown that appended names require a different contact strategy than your existing names, and you have to determine the frequency of contact with those names to make them profitable. Your existing-buyer reactivation strategy gives you a great starting point.

E-mail append should become part of your ongoing house e-mail program. The potential ROI is there, and the requirements on your internal resources are modest. As a way to communicate with existing customers, it makes perfect sense. As a way to provide a boost on the house file for the holidays, it is well worth the investment.

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