Are Your Customer Email Addresses MIA? A Short Primer to Email Append & Validation

email-appending-banner.jpgEmail is an integral channel for customer acquisition and retention. According to a survey by Marketing Sherpa, 60% of marketers view email as currently producing a return on investment, with an additional 32% who believe that email will eventually produce an ROI. That is 92% of marketers who believe in the profitability of email marketing, yet few are truly maximizing this channel.

A successful email marketing strategy separates acquisition marketing from customer marketing with each presenting its own unique challenges and opportunities. With customer marketing, the biggest obstacle most marketers confront is that they do not have enough customer email addresses. Acquiring customer email addresses organically from web forms, direct mail, e-signups, point of sale, or other methods is limited, slow and logistically challenging. That’s why many marketers turn to email append service providers to add email addresses to their marketing databases.

6 Steps to Getting Started With Email Append

Before you embark on an email append project, here are a few things you should know.

On board your new email addresses slowly and thoughtfully through an “on ramp” process. Remember these customers did not volunteer this information to you, rather you found it. Though they may welcome this form of communication, your messaging should indicate that you would like to have the privilege of communicating with them by email in addition to, or in lieu of, phone or snail mail. Slowly assimilating this group into your mainstream email marketing communications will provide better results.

The address that is appended may not be your customer’s primary email account. It’s not unusual for people to have three or even more personal email accounts. By engaging your customer via a non-primary account with relevant and timely messaging, they may ultimately provide you with the email address they use for regular communications.

Attrition on appended email addresses will typically be higher than on email addresses provided directly to you by your customers. Keep in mind the added benefit of those who continue to engage with you, not opt-outs or email accounts that close. If you append email addresses to 25% of your file, and 50% of those email addresses lead to meaningful interactions, your net result is a 12.5% increase in the number of engaged customers.

After the initial permission pass or introductory message to your newly appended email addresses, set up a preference center so customers can choose which types of communications they want to receive, for instance:


Discounts or sales

New product announcements

Tip or How-to Emails

Conversely, don’t wait too long to load your newly appended email addresses into your customer database and start the “on ramp”, on boarding process.

Keep your email data fresh. Customers change email accounts due to moves or better offers from competing service providers. Plan a regular email hygiene schedule to verify that the email addresses you have are accurate, or append newly changed email addresses.

Why Email Validation is Essential

The measure of email marketing success, whether it is a CRM or new customer acquisition campaign, is engagement as measured by Open Rates, Click-thru rates and ultimately Conversions.  One of the often overlooked steps to a successful email campaign is email validation where you evaluate the deliverability of the email address.  Validation should be a must for every email campaign to any email address you have not successfully delivered to in the last 4+ months.

Direct Marketers would never send out a direct mail campaign without confirming the postal address through Delivery Point Validation (DPV) and National Change of Address (NCOA).  The cost of undeliverable mail is easy to quantify.

The Cost of Bad Data

The cost of emailing bad addresses (i.e. undeliverable addresses, spam traps, etc.) is harder to quantify and many marketers only consider the small cost to deploy emails.  Even good email addresses have a shelf life and go bad at a rate of 20-30% per annum as people switch ISPs, jobs or abandon/switch their consumer email address (e.g. Yahoo, Gmail, MSN, etc.). The real cost of bad email data is much larger and impossible to quantify.  Savvy email marketers see the benefits of a regular email hygiene service which include:

Better overall deliverability leads to better response rates E.g. if your campaign has 25% bad email addresses, not only will you not reach those 25%, but it will impair the deliverability of the remaining 75%

Clean email data will preserve your IP Sender reputation, resulting in more emails reaching inboxes

Flagging bad emails prompt marketers to find alternate or replacement emails

Use this two layered approach to make sure your email data is clean and deliverable.

Validate and correct email at point of capture using an API-based real-time email validation service

Develop a structured email data hygiene process that takes emails that have not been deployed in 4+ months through an email validation process before deploying

Email marketing is thriving and has the potential to produce huge ROI. But only if you are marketing with clean and deliverable email addresses. Take some time to get your emails in order and reach your audiences with one of the most effective methods of customer and prospect communications.

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