Co-registration: Should you be making more from your opt-ins?

Whatever direct marketing techniques you’re using to bring people to your website, once they get there, chances are you ask them to opt in, sign up, or otherwise register to receive future communications from you. (In the past, we’ve discussed tips for encouraging registration.)

The latest trend in on-site registration is something called “co-registration.” Websites doing co-registration give visitors the chance to opt in not just for the site’s own mailing lists but for lists of partner organizations as well. Your company may able to defray some direct marketing costs by helping to build partners’ lists this way, but there are some risks to co-registration as well.

Here’s how co-registration works: After the customer has provided the information needed to opt-in for your future communications and accepted an opt-in agreement, he or she is given the opportunity (usually with a series of checkboxes) to register for your partners’ email communications as well.

Of course, no company wants to dilute its own mailing list by sharing names with potential competitors. For this reason, partners should be picked carefully. The best partners are companies that offer complementary products or services (you sell ink cartridges, they sell copier repair services; you sell pet supplies, they sell veterinary care insurance). Make sure that partner companies are in compliance with CAN-SPAM regulations, since visitors are likely to recall signing up at your website, and it will reflect on you if they receive unwanted emails.

Partners can pay you for collecting opt-in names through a variety of business agreements. These include paying per opt-in name or maintaining a reciprocal opt-in mechanism for your company at their sites. Some companies provide opt-in choices for generic mailing lists (“check here if you would like to receive offers for pet owners”) and later offer these opt-in names to other companies. However, observers in the direct marketing industry are reporting that names gathered through generic opt-in generate lower return — and are therefore less valuable — than opt-ins that have agreed to receive mail from clearly identified companies.

Should you get on the co-registration bandwagon? It’s certainly worth exploring, but only if you can keep your registration process user-friendly and guarantee that your valuable opt-in names don’t get spammed by a partner company.

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