Yesmail Debuts Append Service

E-mail marketing services provider Yesmail is expected to debut an e-mail appending service today consisting of a database of 43 million addresses.

Yesmail claims the database is 100 percent opted in and compiled from numerous unnamed sources.

E-mail appending is where a direct mailer's house file of postal addresses is matched to a file of supposedly opted-in e-mail addresses to add e-mail addresses to the postal records. Industry-wide, matches are said to be 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on the quality of the file.

Yesmail claims its file will achieve 15 percent to 20 percent match rates.

Demand for e-mail appending has spiked recently because customers who do business through multiple channels are known to spend more, and with marketing budgets still slashed, businesses are trying to shift their contact with customers to the fastest and cheapest channel.

However, appending is considered by many in and out of marketing as marketers' way of saying it's OK to spam as long as it's only done once. Others contend that appending 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 meaningless 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.

Also, though multichannel buyers are known to spend more, it doesn't necessarily follow that a marketer can make a customer spend more simply by adding an e-mail address to their file.

In any case, the Direct Marketing Association's Association for Interactive Marketing last month signaled that the industry is moving full-speed ahead with appending when it released a document outlining what it considers best practices for e-mail appending at the DMA/AIM Conference & Exhibition in New York.

Yesmail claims its service exceeds those guidelines.

Yesmail thinks its experience in e-mail retention marketing will help it overcome some of e-mail appending's perceived shortcomings.

“You can't just pluck a name off a list and think that's adding value,” said David Menzel, president/CEO of Yesmail, Chicago. “We intend to manage this database with the same standards with respect to permission and privacy as we've managed the Yesmail file.”

He estimated that Yesmail's clients have on average the e-mail addresses of 10 percent of their customers.

Menzel added that the initial match rate of the appending process is not the key issue.

“The issue is how effective your retention-based e-mail is,” he said. “That's where our expertise comes in.”

Yesmail began to position itself as a CRM/e-mail retention-marketing services provider in August 2001 after the business-to-consumer e-mail list rental business began drying up.

Yesmail plans to charge 25 cents to 75 cents per matched name for its appending service depending on quantity, with no run fees or setup charges. The company claims it will turnaround file matches within 48 hours.

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