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From the author of Purchasing or Renting Names

Purchasing or Renting Names

Not all email promotions are sent to existing customers. Many customers supplement their opt-in emailings with mailings designed to solicit business from new customers.

Now, this type of mailing isn’t exactly opt-in—but, if done correctly, isn’t exactly unsolicited either. Let me explain.

When you want to solicit new customers via email, you need to locate a list of consumers who have agreed to receive mailings from another company and also agreed for that company to share their names with other organizations. This typically takes the form of a "would you like to receive special offers from our partners" sort of option, which a surprising number of people check. Names gathered in this fashion can be sold or rented to other companies—which is where you get all those new names to solicit.

This use of names and addresses from people who opted in at another site is called co-registration, and it’s widely used by online marketers. Co-registration can be effective if you choose your partners carefully—that is, if you share names from a site that has a similar demographic to yours. You’ll get less successful results if you use a random list of names. (Although that random list will probably cost list than a more targeted list.)

You can send two types of mailings to these shared names:

  • One-time special offers, where you try to sell directly to recipients
  • Sign up offers, where you instead use the mailing to solicit recipients' approval for you to send them further mailings

Obviously, the first approach is likely to generate faster revenue than the second. The second approach, however, is probably the best for building a long-term mailing list You'll get a higher response rate when people don't have to buy anything.

Where do you find lists of names you can use in this fashion? There are lots of legitimate firms offering co-registration services, as well as many pseudo-spammers operating on the fringes. A good place to start is with the Email Sender and Provider Coalition (http://www.espcoalition.org); their website lists member firms who ascribe to the organization’s ethical practices.

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