Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where do prospect names come from for e-mail campaigns

This is a common question I get from clients and prospects regarding where our prospect names come from for our e-mail campaigns. Eveyone has the preconceived notion that there are bots out there, combing every e-mail server harvesting names left and right. Those names are then placed in a massive database and sold. Actually, this does in fact happen and as you might know, these lists are garbage. We ONLY use double opt-in e-mail addresses. What is the difference between a harvested e-mail list and a double opt-in mailing list?

Basicially a double opt-in mailing list is created by someone REQUESTING information on a given topic not by them having their e-mail address "stolen" from them. Maybe they are interested in boating, hunting, cars, furthering their education, or changing careers. The process for obtaining these names is simple and straight forward.

People start by searching the web looking for educational opportunities, they find our web site(s) or maybe they receive an e-mail asking them if they are interested in getting a degree in xyz field. They click the link and fill out a form asking that they be put on the mailing list for educational opportunities in that field of study. There are over 60 fields of study that we track. This is step one in a a double opt in system.

For the next step they will receive a follow up e-mail asking them to confirm that they did, in fact, want to receive further e-mails from us that are related to educational opportunities. (Or any other of a hundred interest areas.) If they click accept, a cookie is placed on their computer so that further e-mails from us will bypass their filtering system and be delivered to their inbox. It's this confirmation step that makes our database a double opt-in program. This process also makes our lists Can-Spam compliant.

One other key factor to consider is that most  people own multiple accounts. These e-mail addresses tend to be home/personal addresses, but I know in the case of my wife and I we have 9email accounts between us. I have two business accounts and 5 personal accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) and my wife has two accounts (Yahoo, AOL). At any given time I use multiple addresses for form completion or when asking for more information. So it is very possible that someone may have filled out multiple requests using different e-mails. There is no real way of eliminating the duplicates, but where there are duplicates you are assured that they will be receiving your request. We typically e-mail 10% more e-mails than are ordered to cover bounces, but our bounce/non-deliverable rate is typically less than 10%.

One last thought. Many e-mail lists that are created by bots have an infinite life. They use them over and over and over again, even when the address has gone dead. We however, send a confirming e-mail every two months to every e-mail in our database (yes, millions of conformations) asking the recipient if they still have an interest in whatever topic they selected. If they say no, they are removed from the database, if they say yes, they stay. Each e-mail campaign also has an opt-out option at the bottom of the page. A recent campaign of 182,000 e-mails got 24 opt-outs. Not a significant number, and a testament to the quality of the names on the list.

I hope this helps! Contact us for your next e-mail campaign and we will help you reach your needed student prospects.

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