ECOA: Tips for Vetting Vendors

Over brunch this past weekend, a developer friend lamented that software wasn’t sexy. I had to laugh because the same is often said about email. However, while the marketing bullhorns tout the latest-yet-often-untested platform, email remains a rock-solid performer that generates tremendous ROI. Yes, it’s a mature channel, but it’s hard to deny its power, especially when you consider that it brings in $40 for every dollar spent.

Deliverability remains one of the biggest challenges email marketers face. Every year, they struggle with unresponsive email addresses and list attrition. In fact, on average, they lose nearly 30% of their subscribers.  The underlying causes range from the benign (a change in jobs, for example) to the worrisome (uneven sending frequency or mismatched interests and content).

Email Change of Address (ECOA) can help businesses reconnect with inactive and lost subscribers by updating addresses with active, engaged ones. All for a fraction of the cost of acquiring new subscribers. If you’re considering working with an ECOA partner, here are a few tips to help guide you:

WHAT TO CONSIDER

  • Consumer Website: Does the vendor operate a consumer website for individuals to update change their email address changes? If not, where  does their ECOA data come from?
  • Reputation: Do they have testimonials, references, and a credible client list?
  • Price: The least expensive solution is not always the best solution. Be wary of cost-savings tactics that may sacrifice quality.
  • Guaranteed Results: The emails you pay for should be deliverable addresses; a credit should be issued for any that bounce.
  • Experience: Knowledge, expertise and hands-on experience are crucial. Ask how long they’ve been in business, which professional associations they belong to, what kind of industry presence they have, who their partners and clients are, and what other services they offer.
  • Data Cleaning/Hygiene: Scrubbing for typos, errors, and other problematic addresses should automatically be part of the process.
  • Preferred Email Addresses: The results you receive should not just be ‘deliverable’ email addresses, but the addresses your customers have identified as their preferred addresses for receiving communications.
  • Permissions: The data your vendor provides you should be 100% opted-in. Your vendor should be able to provide an information source and registration date for each and every record.
  • Unsubscribe List: Protect your customers’ privacy rights as well as your company’s reputation by ensuring your deliverable email results file is accompanied by an ‘unsubscribe’ list.
  • Data Protection: Ask how your data is protected throughout the process and thoroughly read all contracts to ensure you understand what will happen.
  • Legal Compliance: Your vendor should adhere to all CAN-SPAM regulations and run all required suppressions, including FCC Wireless Domains and your own unsubscribe list. Ask what optional suppressions are recommended for your industry.
  • Vigilance: Good vendors are as careful about their client’s reputation as they are about their own. They should ask you where your data is coming from.

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