Best Practices for Electronic Email Appending

b2b-email-append-igd.pngEmail communication offers many benefits including lower communications costs and higher response rates. But the time and effort required to capture email addresses can seem daunting. In just a few weeks, though, an organization can substantially increase — even double — its number of valid email addresses using an email appending service. This article explains the email appending process and best practices for a successful email append project.

The email appending process

Email appending is the process of adding an individual’s email address to his or her record in an organization’s database(s). An organization sends a file of data with the names and physical addresses of constituents to an append service provider. The provider then matches the data against a permission-based database containing postal and email addresses to produce a corresponding email address match. The append service provider then returns a file of data to the organization that includes the newly added email addresses.

Best practices and standards for the email append process

Consider the following when planning an email append project:

Email appending is ethical if the recipient is a constituent of the organization, such as a donor, member or activist.

The data maintained by the append service provider should be permission-based in that the contacts are provided notice and choice regarding the acceptance of receiving third-party email offers.

The append service provider should maintain infrastructure and policies to prevent accidental and otherwise unauthorized use or release of the client data. Email append vendors should send and receive client data via a secure Web site. Organizations should request that the append service provider hold constituent files in strict confidence and not disclose or use them for any purpose other than the append process. A data confidentiality agreement to affirm this is a good idea.

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Once files are matched, notify the email recipients to provide them with opt-out options. Two options include steps where:

individuals receive notification and have to take action to be added to the organization’s email list (such as clicking on a check box); and

individuals are notified that they have been added to the list and are given the option to opt-out of receiving future email communications.

The append service provider should exclude invalid and opted-out email addresses from the data returned to the organization. The service provider should also send the organization a separate file of data (with name and mailing address information) about individuals who opted out or who have undeliverable emails addresses. Organizations can use this information to manage subsequent direct mail or telemarketing programs for email address collection.

Typically, the organization and the email append service provider share responsibility for accepting and responding to any communication initiated by the recipient arising from the email append process. For email communication with a recipient after an email append project, the organization is responsible for managing opt-out requests and other inquiries regarding email permissions and preferences.

The first email message sent by an organization to the recipient of a matched email address should clearly express the intent of the email solicitation.  Additionally, the organization should provide the recipient the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of receiving its future email messages.

The email addresses obtained through the append process should not be made available to outside organizations. Organizations should carefully consider how its various departments, programs and affiliates will use the email addresses.

Using an email appending service, any organization can quickly gather constituent email addresses. And, by following a few simple best practices, the organization can ensure an effective and ethical online relationship with its constituents for years to come.

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