Appending Email, Part 2: Appending to Appends

As you might imagine, feedback on my last article about appending email to snail mail addresses was voluminous and spirited. In the end, we must agree to disagree.

I’d like to follow up with some additional notes that I think will be valuable to you as you proceed into this arena.

Bounces, or Undeliverables

There are some pretty unhappy campers out there. They went through the append process but when they deployed the list, they found that they paid for email addresses that were undeliverable. Here’s what to do. First, discuss this issue with your service provider and find out what it guarantees and how it will respond if your list has a high bounce rate. If you pay for a service, make sure you get to the list quickly and with a compelling offer. Hook them early, and at the same time validate what you paid for. The churn rate on email addresses, coupled with your customers’ short memory, may reduce the effectiveness of gaining email addresses if you don’t act on them. Have a plan already in place for your next series of communications.

Although you will pay a bit more if you go through a partner to a direct provider, you should consider this method with regard to your experience and your budget. With all the discussion of permission-based email, you want experienced, reliable people helping you through a new process. A few companies I did not mention last time that might be of assistance are e2 Communications and Naviant. Whitehat is also fairly big in list service. These aren’t intended to be recommendations, but they will provide you with additional resources.


Some of you wrote to say that I was a bit soft on this issue. Die-hard permission people believe append services will cause the downfall of email marketing. They think it will push consumers to demand stringent, costly regulations for unwanted email.

As one reader mentioned, permission is not transferable. I agree. I also agree that companies and list owners need to be clear at the time of sign up as well as when those addresses are used as to how customers are linked to the process. If you’re concerned, ask if there is a way to send that first email message “from” the list owner. Let the owner create the statement about the existing email relationship, then make your offer. Be advised that if you take this route, you will probably need to make this an opt-in offer to keep it clean. This will lead to lower response, or opt-in, rates. Consider your policies and how to best proceed.

Lists and Their Sources

Some companies have better and more stringent guidelines for partners that provide email addresses. If the permission issue is a concern, find out how the names are compiled. Learn the details of the privacy and permission-related statements used in the gathering process for the lists you work with in the append process.

Hope this information helps. Go forth and multiply that list… but do it wisely!

— Jackie G.

Related reading