There was a session at the recent Email Insiders Summit that discussed appending. I wasn’t there, but I’ve been hearing about the session, including one description that involved the term ‘fist fight.’
I have found a couple articles about the session.
I encourage folks to read both articles and watch the video posted by Return Path. I agree with different points by folks on both sides of the debate. Appending can be a useful acquisition strategy for some companies. But we can’t pretend there’s any permission involved in common appending strategies.
Ignoring the lack of permission, I believe that the companies saying it is a successful strategy share some common factors.
- They are companies with high brand awareness
- They are companies with sufficient resources to commit to long term marketing strategy.
- They have a mature direct marketing strategy.
- They have a well maintained customer database.
- They have funds to use a decent appending provider.
Of course most of those factors also mean that those same companies could send unsolicited email to non-customers and have success with that strategy.
My experience, and the experience of many delivery people, is that appending causes a lot of problems. But I’ll be the first to admit that we only see the incidents where it doesn’t work. If an ESPs customer does an append and it doesn’t cause delivery problems, then the ESP will probably never know.
Does this mean I support appending? Not really. I land firmly on the side of permission and that recipients should have control over the email they receive. Unless the recipient is actively involved in the appending process, and giving their permission for their address to be sold to a company, there is no permission involved. So I won’t advocate it, or support its use. I think that opt-out appending doesn’t scale in the same way that spamming doesn’t scale.