A CheetahMail New Years’ Resolution: Giving Up Email Append

Ten years ago in December of 2001, I coordinated an initiative with many of the leading email service and data providers to agree upon “Best Practices for Email Append” under the auspices of the Association for Interactive Marketing (a former subsidiary of the DMA).   At the time, my thought was that since few offline marketers had customer email addresses that the process of a marketer sending an opt-out request to receive their communications would give the email marketing industry the needed boost to build commercial viability.  It was also a time when permission-based marketing was still coming of age, and cross-channel permissioning was considered an acceptable means for communication as long as the recipient had opted-in to receive 3rd party offers.

Today, we’re closing the book on that chapter by stating that Experian CheetahMail believes that opt-out email appending is no longer an acceptable practice, and that marketers should no longer use this practice to acquire customer email addresses. 

There are four main reasons for this change;

  1. Even in 2001, most of us viewed email appending as a stop-gap measure until offline marketers achieved critical mass online and no longer needed this acquisition method to bolster their email programs.  Today’s offline marketers collect customer emails at every point of sale, and even through new mobile and social media channels.  There is no doubt that if a customer wants to subscribe to a marketers’ email list, they have ample opportunities to do so.
  2. As one of the first email service providers to become a full member of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), Experian CheetahMail is committed to supporting their best practices and recent policy position against email appending, found online here.  We believe our position is in-line with that effort and is in the best interest of marketers who wish to maintain consistent Inbox deliverability.
  3. In a matter of months, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is going to come into force.    If you were not aware, the new law requires opt-in consent for email marketing, with limited exceptions where there is a prior business relationship.  Because the law does not require marketers to have knowledge of a recipient’s residency in Canada, it is probable that even some U.S. customers who are appended could now reside in Canada and fall under the jurisdictional requirements for Canadian compliance.  As a result, marketers who conduct opt-out email append would run afoul of CASL and be subject to a private right of action in a Canadian court.
  4. Email address turnover continues to increase, as well as the use of formerly active email addresses as ‘spamtraps’ by mailbox providers and filtering companies.  The increasing deliverability risk of mailing to potentially inaccurate or invalid recipients now exceeds the value they provided in the past.


We believe eliminating this practice is in the marketers and consumers best interests.  I can appreciate that many marketers have had success with email appending efforts, however, the opt-out appending process should be discontinued for the betterment of the entire email marketing community.  I appreciate your consideration and support of this change, and welcome any comments, questions, concerns or suggestions on this topic by reaching me at privacyATcheetahmail.com.

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