E-mail Appends: The Good, the Bad and the Realistic
Q. Is this a household match or an individual-level match?
A. A household match is an e-mail found for the postal address of your donor. An individual match is linked specifically to your donor. If your cause is political or controversial, an individual match is critical.
Q. What type of a suppression file do you use?
A. Ask the vendor if it maintains a suppression file of complainers, bad addresses or spam-button pushers. Also ask if it uses the DMA Email Preference Service file as suppression.
Managing your expectations
Before you pitch the e-mail append to your boss or your board, make sure you are managing your expectations, which means avoiding these common fantasies:
Fantasy No. 1: I will immediately make money!
Yes, the average value of an e-mail address on your file is $7.86 a year. Yes, many organizations are recovering five to 10 times what they invested. But this did not happen with one e-mail; nor did it happen without a strategy. When you mail a 48-month lapsed donor, what type of response rate are you expecting? Look at your audience, and determine realistic response rates. E-mail is a fantastic way to cultivate your lapsed donors at a low cost.
Fantasy No. 2: An e-mail address will be good for all time!
E-mail updates are critical to the health of your file. When’s the last time you considered mailing a file that you hadn’t NCOA’d in the last six months? Out of the question, right? Well, it’s estimated that people change e-mail addresses at a rate of 20 percent per year. Continuing to e-mail addresses that ISPs have bounced back to you is a recipe for spam.
Side note: How does an e-mail update work? Similar to an e-mail append, you send a file of hard-bouncing e-mail addresses to a reputable vendor. It will search its permission-based databases for new e-mail addresses linked to your records. Then the vendor will send a “welcome back” message to those e-mail addresses on its server. It will return only those e-mail addresses that are valid and have not opted out of hearing from you at this new e-mail address.