Seven Questions for Co-Registration Service Providers

While maintaining e-mail lists and developing a growth strategy during a down economy, don’t overlook co-registration.

If you search for co-registration services, you’ll find sites offering to build your list immediately with high quality leads. You’ll also find contradictory information. One industry expert says their analysis shows that it’s ineffective, while another says 32 percent of co-registration leads perform as well as house list addresses.

To make sense of this, let’s start with being clear what we’re talking about. Webopedia defines co-registration as “arrangements between companies to collect user information. Usually this would be a separate check-box on a Web signup form where the user can opt-in to receive messages from a third-party.”

Now what could possibly go wrong with that? If your co-registration is a reciprocal arrangement between your organization and a few others in related areas, almost certainly nothing will go wrong. Effective and honest data collection is in everyone’s interest and no one benefits by gaming the system or cutting corners.

Such potential partners are few and far between, however, meaning it’s expensive and time consuming to set up partnerships on an individual basis. As a result, most organizations that use co-registration work through a third party that makes the arrangements, processes the leads, and sells them.

Anytime money is involved, you’ll find less-than-scrupulous people. The combination of marketers looking for a quick-fix way to grow their list and suppliers looking to sell as many addresses as possible can lead to significant problems that you must be aware of and defend against if you’re going to enter co-registration.

Before contracting with a co-registration provider, find out:

  • Is this is truly co-registration and not list purchase or rental? Some vendors have a hard time separating the two concepts. Co-registration is where individuals opted-in to your list on someone else’s site. A vendor can’t have thousands of addresses for you immediately; if they do, that’s a major red flag.
  • How does their sign-up process work? Try it out with a throwaway address and see what happens. Can you choose lists individually? Does the vendor honor those choices or do they sell your address elsewhere as well?
  • How do they validate signups? Do they use confirmed opt-in (also known as double opt-in) or will they be selling you potentially invalid addresses?
  • What other data comes with the address?
  • Will you receive any other demographic or contact information? Will the data include where and when the subscriber opted in? That is which site they signed up at, when they did it, and what IP address they used.
  • Who else will receive the same addresses? The point of co-registration is that the subscriber signs up for multiple lists. Will you have any control over, or visibility of, which other organizations are receiving the same address?
  • What happens in the event of complaints and non-deliveries? Will you be compensated for recipients who complain? What about for non-deliveries?

Even if all these things look good, take some more defensive measures.

Try Before You Buy

You must verify that you’re getting what you expect. In the most egregious cases, vendors have been known to forge co-registration addresses. Ensure that the economics don’t give incentives to the unscrupulous. To that end, you should pay for addresses only after you’ve sent to them.

Monitor Your Sources

If a particular vendor or site goes rogue, or even if the site is scammed and starts providing poor quality data, you must be able to identify it quickly and immediately segregate those addresses to prevent damage to your reputation.

Follow the Money

Track ROI (define) for your co-registration addresses and sources. Keep the ones that work; drop the ones that don’t. List size is far less important than the ROI you get from it.

Despite claims to the contrary, co-registration isn’t a quick fix or shortcut for list growth. It requires significant planning and maintenance to keep the program running well. However, if your partners and vendors are well chosen and monitored, it can be a solid way to grow your list beyond what you can achieve through more traditional means.

Until next time,


This column was first published on March 19, 2009.

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