Practical Ecommerce

Understanding Email and Data Appends, for Marketing

Marketing professionals often ask me about email and data appends.  Both can help grow new email subscribers and improve the information about existing ones. In this article, I’ll describe how email and data appends work, and how they can improve your email marketing campaigns.

Email Appends

An email append is simply the process of adding a valid email address to a contact in your database. These contacts typically fall into one of four categories.

  • Contacts for which you have no email address but you have their first and last name and physical address.
  • Contacts with old or outdated email addresses.
  • Contacts that have become dormant and you are not sure if their email address is valid.
  • Contacts that are not responsive to the email address on file, but they may have a more current one.

Data Appends

A data append is a reverse email append — you add data about the subscribers based on their email address. For example, perhaps you want to start a “happy birthday” email campaign, but you do not have the birthdate for many subscribers. You can add that information via a data append. (Birthdates, however, can be obtained only on the month someone was born, not the exact day.)

For Omaha Steaks to send this "happy birthday" email, it first had to append a subscriber's birth month to her data file.

For Omaha Steaks to send this “happy birthday” email, it first had to append a subscriber’s birth month to her data file.

Other data points — age, income, address — can be added and used for segmentation, personalization, or other email-marketing purposes. You can also use the data for analysis, to better understand demographics of your customers.

Email Appends: Getting Started

Append email addresses only to individuals that:

  • Opted-in to receive emails from your brand;
  • Have a prior business relationship with your brand, such as a purchase or an inquiry for more information;
  • Have not opted out of any email programs from your brand.

To conduct an email append, first establish the segment of data to add email addresses. Run an email hygiene report to identify the segments. Then, conduct a verification to see if the email addresses on file are current and active — flag records that are not.

Next, find a reputable company that offers email verification and append services. Consider using multiple providers for additional records or contacts, assuming that their data does not materially overlap.

The provider will then process the data and assign the email addresses to those that are missing. Depending on the data freshness and the provider, the percentage of available addresses will fluctuate. Typically most append projects will range from 10 to 30 percent, meaning new email address are added to 10 to 30 percent of the file.

After that, send a “permission pass” email to all of the new email addresses.

This "permission pass" email, from Hotel del Coronado, asks the recipient to unsubscribe if not interested in future communications.

This “permission pass” email, from Hotel del Coronado, asks the recipient to unsubscribe if not interested in future communications.

A “permission pass” informs contacts that you will use their new email address. It also provides the option to unsubscribe. This initial communication is important. It identifies undeliverable emails and facilitates unsubscribes. Once the permission-pass process is complete, add the remaining, updated email addresses your campaigns.

Data Appends: Getting Started

Data appends can be done for individuals or households. For individuals, you simply look for an exact match of that person. For households, you check for other members of that household if your list contains no individual matches.

For example, if your email address for Bill Smith is undeliverable and there is no new email address available for Bill, a household check may identify an address for his wife. In that case, you must decide whether contacting a spouse is appropriate, given the business or product. Most appends are for individuals.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Bill Kaplan January 19, 2017 Reply

    Great overview, Carolyn. For companies looking to grow their email databases and/or supplement their customer files with additional actionable data, email and data appends can provide a significant boost to one’s email marketing program and revenues, provided these services are performed in a careful manner by only the most reputable provider.

    Due to the proliferation of questionable companies that have jumped in this space over the years, it’s critical that companies perform extensive due diligence before choosing a partner to work with to build and update their customer database. Matching the wrong email address or data will not simply be a wasted marketing investment but could result in one’s email program being blocked or blacklisted so be sure to do your homework before proceeding.

  2. Renato Roschel Ribeiro January 22, 2017 Reply

    Thank you, Carolyn Nye. I am from Brazil and I try to be updated with digital marketing news. I am starting from now on follow you in your articles.

  3. Tom Belhumeur January 31, 2017 Reply

    Carolyn – Great post, thanks for sharing. You mention data appending mostly in the context of email campaigns which makes perfect sense and can create significant value. I would argue/add that appending data for the purpose of segmentation and personalization like you touched on can provide even greater value.

    The more data/information a marketer can link to an individual customer creates better understanding of who their customers are, what a loyal customer looks like, what campaigns acquired them, how they behave and engage with your brand, etc. Marketers can use all this information to create a better customer experience to increase conversions for upsell, cross-sell and renegadememt campaigns.

    It’s important to keep in mind this data NEEDS to be appended at the individual customer level to realize this additional value, aggregate data won’t do it.

  4. rupesh February 15, 2017 Reply

    Thank you, Carolyn Nye. The above article on “Understanding Email and Data Appends, for Marketing” was really helpful in understanding the main aspects what an Business or a Individual may need to start and focus on Data Services, Marketing.
    I feel you need to have a look at http://www.gilbertdb.com , the information on data appending, email appending, Technology users list as well as Health Care List.