We live in an age where more data is available than ever before, which means incredibly big and positive things when it comes to email marketing in particular. According to a study conducted by the IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub, there are literally trillions of different sensors out in the wild that are constantly monitoring, tracking and communicating with one another, providing not only advanced functionality like the Internet of Things but also presenting data to marketers like yourself in real-time. More than that,there are an estimated 30+ petabytes of user-generated data created every day that is stored, accessed and analyzed – and that is just when you take the social networking giant Facebook into consideration.
One of the keys to success in the digital marketing age is and will always be leveraging the power of this data to your advantage. According to a study conducted by Jupiter Research, emails that are actually relevant to the recipient (in that they contain information or offers that are something they actually want, even if they didn’t explicitly ask for it) drive up to 18 times more revenue than traditional broadcast emails. According to HubSpot, leads that are nurtured via these types of email campaigns produce an average of 20% more sales opportunities than those that aren’t nurtured at all.
So once you’ve established that using known customer data to your advantage is very much a good thing, the next question you have to ask yourself is “HOW should I be leveraging that customer data to my advantage?” One of the simplest – yet simultaneously most effective – ways to accomplish exactly that is through a process called email appending.
What is Email Appending?
At its core, email appending is a process that allows marketers to take known customer data and match it against information in a vendor’s database to obtain email addresses that can then be used for targeted marketing campaigns. The most basic version of this practice involves taking known first names, last names and postal addresses of potential leads in order to obtain email addresses.
To be fair to all sides of this issue, email appending is not without its fair share of controversy. The practice’s detractors say that all appending does is generate a list of emails that can then be used to send people messages they never explicitly asked for, doing more harm than good in the long run. Supporters, on the other hand, correctly identify that email appending is a tool unlike any other. It’s not just a way to obtain email addresses – it’s another in a long list of ways that you can use a customer’s personality, their traits and even their very identity to match the right people up with the right content, increasing satisfaction across the board.
Think about it this way: you know the exact type of person that you’re trying to reach. Whether you’re trying to build Christian email lists or prepper email lists or even conservative politics email lists doesn’t matter so much as finding the right people to populate those lists in the first place. Email appending, if done properly and done OFTEN, helps make this process easier than it has ever been.
There are a number of key reasons why you absolutely should be appending as often as you can.
Email Appending Removes Bounces
Perhaps the biggest reason why email appending not only matters but matters often is that it has been proven to significantly cut down on the types of bounces that stand to derail even the most strategically sound campaigns. “Soft bounce” is a term used to describe a situation where an email recipient’s inbox is full, meaning that the message you’ve sent is never actually delivered in the first place. “Hard bounce” is a term describing a situation where you send an email to a recipient with an address that doesn’t actually exist, which not only wastes a great deal of your valuable time but also may get you blacklisted if you’re not careful.
By taking advantage of appending services often, you can help kill both of those proverbial birds with one stone. Again, appending doesn’t just let you reach as many people as possible – it’s another way to help make sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that your message is efficiently getting in front of the eyes of the people who want to read it the most, whether they realize that yet or not.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Another one of the reasons why you should be practicing appending as often as you can is because it helps make sure that you continue to engage with both existing clients and potential ones. Think about it from this perspective: according to a study conducted by The Radicati Group, there are approximately 196 billion emails sent by human beings every day. The average adult in the United States alone will receive an average of 35 emails over that same period of time. This is just talking about email contact – when you consider the phone calls a person may take or the text messages a person may receive, their attention is constantly being pulled in dozens of different directions to the point where if you don’t make contact with a lead at exactly the right time, there’s a very real (and understandable) chance they may forget you exist entirely.
Email appending, on the other hand, is a wonderfully efficient way to make sure that doesn’t happen. It helps to guarantee that nothing is standing in the way between your client and the exact moment where engagement can be the most efficient, helping to always keep your business, your product or your service at the forefront of their mind precisely when you need it to be there.
As previously stated, one of the keys to marketing success in the digital age is getting the right message in front of the right person. Email appending is also a terrific way to do this, as it allows you to gain more insights into the demographic and psychographic info on your customers that you wouldn’t have had access to through other means.
People naturally change over time. Their favorite TV show today might not be their favorite TV show next week, their magazine subscriptions change and they may not always have the presence of children in their homes. These data points are certainly an oversimplification of this idea, however, the core concepts are very much something that marketers have to deal with on a regular basis. Email appending helps make sure you always have a complete picture of who your consumers are just as you’re ready to hit “Send” on that latest email message. Additionally, these same data points can be obtained and are applicable for marketers who prefer direct mail and telemarketing.
It Helps Protect Your Enterprise
Another one of the reasons why email appending is so important is because it helps reduce your chances of being blacklisted or perceived as a spammer (or worse – an amateur marketer). Appending helps make sure you always have the most accurate information to work from and we’ve already mentioned how effective that can be at reducing both hard and soft bounces.
While critics of appending do say that it is a powerful tool that can be abused to sign people up for email lists that they never explicitly asked to be a part of, this is only true if you choose to use it that way. Any tool can be abused by someone with malicious intentions. If your intentions are true (as they would be with any quality marketer who actually cares about what they do and how they spread their message), appending is a powerful ally to improve the quality of your message and to increase engagement across the board.
And for those of you who have postal addresses and seek emails to cut down on your marketing costs, reverse appending services exist to help you reach your customers via email (right after a permission pass).
The Multi-Channel Approach
Speaking of “across the board,” perhaps the most important benefit of email appending has to do with how it gives you a true multi-channel approach to marketing to your consumers. Using the insights made available by appending often, you can now design different contact intervals for different channels, for example.
You don’t have to worry about turning off a potential lead because they received a piece of print marketing in the mail, got a phone call from a member of your support staff AND received an email all on the same day. Though that would undoubtedly be rare, it does happen and the results can be catastrophic.
Email appending essentially provides a similar function to something like CASS or NCOA, which print marketers have been relying on for years. CASS (or the Coding Accuracy Support System) helps standardize address data to make sure your mailing list meets automation rate specs to qualify for USPS discounts, while NCOA helps make sure you always have a person’s most up-to-date address to work from.
With all of these tools working in tandem, you now have everything you need to know exactly when to make contact with someone for maximum effectiveness. Using information from NCOA you have their updated postal address and thanks to email appending, you have their accurate email address, too. It’s a perfect storm that results in you having the most complete, actionable information to form as the foundation for all of your strategic decisions moving forward.
Email appending also acts as a powerful step towards the true cross-channel marketing enterprise you’re likely trying to build. Multi-channel marketing makes it easier than ever to reach leads and increase conversions, but only if every channel is optimized to its fullest potential. Appending lets you to precisely that in terms of your email efforts, which can then allow you to spend time focusing on other channels like mobile, direct mail, website, PPC and more in the future.