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Say Goodbye to Email Appends

RKD Group is no longer providing email append services to our clients.  In other words, we’re breaking up with email appends.

It… it’s not you, email appends.  It’s us.  (Okay maybe its kinda you, but we’ve grown apart, so we’re going to say it’s us to make it less awkward.)

Appends come in many different forms—augmenting your existing data through 3rd party data services.  Nonprofits have used appends for decades to help build a deeper data stack.

If you have an address, you can append a phone, email or other data points through 3rd party services.  This practice has allowed nonprofits to create multichannel strategies.

Further, in our own analysis, we’ve seen that donors who are ready to receive various forms of multichannel communication have a long-term net (LTN) value that, in some cases, can be as much as 971% greater than those who are not.Certainly, we can all agree that the more data points you have about a donor, the deeper the relationship.  Having additional data is a good thing.  How you obtain data, and how you use data, are intensifying challenges and have prompted RKD to discontinue offering email appends to our clients.

What is behind RKD’s decision?

Earlier this year we posted about the rollout of GDPR in May 2018 and called for greater data strategy on behalf of nonprofits.

A key obstacle with email appends is explicit opt-in collection.  When you append data, you are adding that data without consent and explicit opt-in at the point of collection.

In June 2018, Blackbaud (who offers email append services) updated their Acceptable Use Policy with more strict language around obtaining consent when using third-party lists.  Engaging Networks has a similar policy in place.

MailChimp (#11 on the 2018 Forbes Cloud 100, btw), and other commercial tools, are even more strict.  Their policy states the following under prohibited actions:

“Upload or send to purchased, rented, third-party, co-reg, publicly available data, or partner lists of any kind.”

The market is moving to a higher level of thoughtfulness towards how we handle and process data.  The risk associated with email appends has too great of consequences for nonprofits to continue the use of email appends as a means to collect and build an email marketing file.

The use of appended email addresses increase risk of spamtraps and lowered deliverability --  and can violate CAN-SPAM laws.

One bad apple (or in this case, appended email) can ruin the whole bunch.

So, we’re breaking up with email appends.Instead of appending email addresses, here are a few ways you can build your email marketing file:

  • Create and promote lead generation campaigns that maximize your content authority.
  • Optimize your direct marketing campaigns to include ways to connect with you (through email, mobile, social and other communication avenues).
  • Be strategic. Each touch (events, volunteering, phone calls) are opportunities to add constituent data.

What about appending other data points?  Definitely. Keep it up.  But make sure to optimize your data practices and data strategy to be in line with GDPR compliance.

Justin McCord

Justin McCord is the Vice President of SMarketing at RKD Group, leading the sales and marketing teams. Justin oversees brand management, business development and content marketing for RKD, and he hosts the award-winning Groupthinkers podcast. He is also a regular speaker and contributor to nonprofit marketing events, helping shine a light on current issues and progressive strategies to align channels and improve connection.

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