“Should I use a data append service?”

That’s a great question, but before it can be answered you need to answer a few other questions. Why do you want to append that data? What data do you want to append? And, how do you intend to use that data?

First let’s look at the Why. Most likely it’s for marketing purposes. You may want to have the ability to achieve better segmentation for targeting or better personalization to increase response rates. You may also be looking to create personas to help with finding lookalike audiences. In any case, understanding why you want the data is the place to start.

If you have a list of prospects with enough information to reasonably know who they really are, then you could use a 3rd party service to append email addresses. Set your expectations. Your match rate won’t be great but it might be pretty good, and with any data append, you are likely to get some false matches. The more information you have about your prospect to provide to the append service, the more likely you are to get a correct match.

Should you care about a false match? A false match means you will be marketing to people who are not at all who you think they are and potentially mixing the personal information of your true prospect with an unknown party. Potentially an embarrassing mistake, but also one that could start a fight with the individuals whose information is involved. Be prepared and have a solid understanding of current legislation in any geographic area where you are marketing (more on that here).

If you intend to use the appended email addresses to deploy marketing emails, you will want to exercise particular caution. We have worked with marketers who have done significant damage to their email sending reputation by sending out unsolicited emails to appended lists. Open rates for unsolicited emails can run at a cringeworthy 2% or less. Even more concerning is that complaint rates can run 2-5% or higher. That’s a recipe for getting blacklisted quickly. Recovering from this kind of reputation damage can take months or longer. The bottom line is, fiercely protect your domain and IP address reputation.

If you are starting with an email address and trying to augment your data, you are probably generally safe in terms of backlash from your prospects. You may be looking for demographic, psychographic or firmographic information. Here you are much more likely to find value. The right partner can help you create personas that can be used to craft relevant, targeted information that is likely to increase response rates across many forms of media. In addition, understanding your basic customer segments is a major win for developing and targeting lookalike audiences.

When considering what data to append, more is not always better. Rather you should only gather or append what you actually intend to use. Keep in mind that as your collect and retain more data, your exposure goes up in the event of a data breach. This means you need to be very confident in your policies and procedures for data management.

If you are considering an append, be sure to vet your data provider thoroughly. There are some trustworthy sources and some just out to make a quick buck. Check references and be sure you understand their policies for data collection.

If you have questions, reach out to an emfluencer and we can help you navigate the waters.


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