To Append Or Not To Append

Last week, Ali Swerdlow discussed email practices. Beyond defining the way we spell the word, what other standards should be set? This week, we open the discussion to the "gray area" surrounding email appends. Should they be set as standards for appends moving forward?

1. Know your vendor. Their experience and their reputation. Why? Even though sender filters would block the append vendor doing delivery, the recipients will also be complaining about you. You may find your company name touted on discussion boards as a spammer and ultimately, be added to dozens of blacklists if not handled correctly.

2. Know the source of the names. Unlike postal mail, household matches may not necessarily reach your customer. Question whether the vendor has explicit permission to mail to these individuals--and what their match logic is. Loose logic will generally cost less, and generate far more appended names. However, you significantly increase the chances you will append the wrong name.



Checking whether your vendor is on IP blacklists or URL blocklists through a reputable delivery source is a good first step, followed by a preliminary "baseline" delivery audit of the vendor.

3. Use a vanity domain instead of your main URL. The append vendor permission pass emails should not include your primary URL/domain, due to the risk of having them added to URL blocklists. Rather, it should be a secondary, similar, vanity domain that would not harm broad mailing efforts if added to a blocklist (e.g. Note: this can re-direct to your primary domain/Web site.

4. Ask for an opt-in when possible. Once you are ready to send that first email, it is recommended the vendor-sent permission pass is opt-in, not opt-out. If opt-out is the only option, the need to track inbox delivery becomes critical. You should first request the vendor provide you with their bounces, so you do not append those names. By design, the opt-out permission pass requires action from those who do not want your messages. You can't opt-out of something you do not receive.

5. Sit tight. For those acquired via an opt-out approach, you should wait at least one (and ideally two) weeks to mail to ensure those that did get the permission pass have had an opportunity to read, and take action on it.

6. Isolated your appended email from your house list. Isolate and mail your appended records from their own separate IP address. Do not risk your good mailing IP address by adding these names too soon. As you begin to mail to these names, you can gradually migrate those that click onto your primary list. For those that are perpetual non-openers/clicker, take a hint and let them go. Even if they are the right person, odds are good they are not interested in your emails.

7. Bottom line on appends. A careful, methodical approach is critical. It is not just about the cost per email appended--it is also about the potential cost of your company's reputation. Don't forget that email does not operate with an 80/20 rule, but a 99/1 rule: If less than 1 percent of your customers complain that your emails are spam, mailing the remaining 99 percent is in jeopardy.

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