Study: E-Mail Addresses Found For One In Eight Postal Addresses

E-mail marketing services company FreshAddress, Inc., based in Newton, Mass., intends to release data today showing that in the last year, it's been able to find e-mail addresses for between 5 and 21 percent of customer names gleaned from offline mailing lists.

The study, for which FreshAddress examined 100 million customer records, marks the first time FreshAddress has attempted to quantify its success in e-mail "appending," or tying e-mail addresses to names and street addresses. The average success rate for commercial senders was 12 percent for individuals and 16 percent for households. Efforts to find new e-mail addresses for customers who had changed accounts met with an 8 percent success rate.

Natalie Hahn O'Flaherty, the company's marketing director, said she believes the company--which has been in the e-mail appending business since 1999--is becoming more successful at matching offline and online information than in the past.

Still, the practice remains somewhat controversial, because many consumers recoil at the idea of being sent e-mails when they haven't volunteered their e-mail addresses. O'Flaherty stressed that when FreshAddress discovers consumers' e-mail addresses, the first message it sends asks whether the recipient would like to receive more e-mail communications.



Nonetheless, some consumers find unsolicited e-mail extremely offensive, said e-mail marketing expert (and MediaPost columnist) Melinda Krueger of Krueger Direct/Interactive. "You just have to be careful, because it's such an intrusive and offensive practice," she said.

In February, one disgruntled consumer complained in a blog about Miller Brewing Company's e-mail appending; the entry was then picked up by popular blog site BoingBoing. "I filled out a web form for a contest from Miller using a throwaway junk e-mail address and then, months after I dumped the throwaway account, I got this to my main account! Not sure I like the idea of companies tracking me down like this," griped the consumer.

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