The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email
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Debunking Co-Registration Myths

Co-registration is sometimes known as cost-per lead (CPL) or cost-per-acquisition (CPA) service.  A website and advertiser form a relationship through an intermediary to exchange consumer contact information—essentially sales and marketing leads. The advertiser gets the leads, Co-registration leads are gathered when someone registers for one thing (e.g., a free membership, or a magazine subscription) and then is offered more information on a topic that is contextually relevant to the website. In another case, a website visitor might be presented with a popup asking if they would like to receive information on related products by email.

Nearly all Internet users have come across co-registration in one form or the other. If you’ve signed up for free email through Yahoo!, you’ve mostly likely come across page asking if you’d like information on related Yahoo! services. That’s co-registration in its simplest form.

Essentially, co-registration is an “up-sell.” Website visitors who are interested can “opt-in” to receive more information via e-mail newsletters or other form of direct marketing. With one simple step (a checkbox for example), the online marketer gains permission to email these customers about requested services.

Benefits of co-registration

Many website publishers have taken notice of the revenue opportunities available through co-registration, resulting in a swift and steady increase in the number of sites where it’s offered. The benefits are significant; with co-reg, marketers:

Find and reach new customers beyond their existing lists and web traffic Zero in on customers who are genuinely interested in their products or services Efficiently build a solid customer database Drive brand awareness and customer loyalty Increase traffic to the company website

Co-reg is attractive because of its affordability.  Some networks sell co-registration anywhere from  .10 to $1 per email address. The price usually gets higher when additional information is collected such as name and address. From a lead generation standpoint, this affordability enables advertisers to convert only a small percentage of a co-reg list and still turn a profit.

In spite of the relatively low price, co-reg yields an immensely high volume of leads from prospective customers, generally on an ROI-friendly cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per lead (CPL) basis.

Opt-in rates can range as high as 15 percent to 20 percent and result in thousands of new leads on a daily basis. Co-registration allows you to build a house mailing list for about the same cost as a few rental email lists.

Another advantage is that people who opt in via co-reg are genuinely interested. They have expressed interest in a product or service by taking time to check the box on a co-reg form.

Disadvantages of co-registration: why the bad rep?

Clearly, co-reg has major advantages. But while CPL programs are among the least understood and most underused tools available to the email marketer, co-reg leads are used by some of the biggest businesses (e.g., Amazon, Yahoo and Savvy marketers understand how big the lead generation business is, and how ready vendors are to sell their leads as co-registrations.

Yet small marketers are reluctant to use these programs because they mistakenly think that it’s spamming.  So why the bad rep? Unfortunately, some unscrupulous vendors have used sneaky ways to get more leads. The worst offenders use opt-out rather than opt-in methods to gather co-registrations. Opt-out leads are unreliable and problematic because the prospects did not proactively request information (the box was checked automatically).

Other vendors advertise “free leads,” luring marketers to their sites in the hopes of up-selling other products. Unfortunately these lists are sold under false pretenses and rarely contain true co-registration leads. Either these email addresses have been given away over and over again, or they were “harvested” unethically and contain old or abandoned emails. Software is often used to troll the web, searching for email addresses from websites or the WHOIS database. “Free lead” vendors then sell CDs full of harvested emails as if they contained legitimate co-registration leads.  In most cases, however, these lists are worthless, further giving co-reg a bad reputation. Another problem is that some leads that were acquired legitimately may be “aged.” This means the prospects submitted their opt-in requests request many months ago, decreasing the probability of subscribers responding to the offer.

On the other end of the price scale are brokers who drive lower-cost subscriptions through affiliate relationships, with very little if any quality control regarding who these affiliates are. One problem some advertisers might encounter is foreign subscribers ending up on your list. In this case usually some enterprising affiliate has translated an offer into other languages in order to tap new markets.

Co-registration best practices: how to do it right

Email experts at Gold Lasso suggest the following best practices for ethical co-registration:

Use only confirmed opt-in. This is an absolute must. Never have the opt-in box pre-marked, and don’t use a network that endorses this practice. You only want subscribers who have expressly given permission through their own action. While this will naturally decrease your ultimate numbers, the leads you do get are of much greater quality and much more likely to buy from you.

Follow up quickly—and steadily—with your leads. Co-registration provides you with a steady stream of leads; it’s up to you to convert them into customers. Leads obtained through co-registration have likely never been to your website and may quickly forget that they have signed up with you. It’s the classic case of “out-of-site, out-of-mind.” Be sure to get in touch with them quickly, and remind them why they are hearing from you.  Know where your opt-in email addresses are coming from so that you can reference the website in your introductory email. Have a plan for future communications, as well.  You’ve got to maintain momentum.

Keep it simple—but make it enticing.  Typically with co-registration, you only get one or two sentences to describe and promote the service for which prospects are signing up for. Make sure your copy and information requirements are geared toward gaining qualified leads, not lifelong customers. Think about including a promotion, such as a sweepstakes or freenewsletter to increase opt-in rates.

Make sure your messages are accurate, relevant and compliant. If you offer a weekly email, make sure subscribers don’t end up on your daily list. When contacting for the first time, they may not know who you are, or even remember that they have requested information. So develop a quality auto-responder campaign and follow through on what they were expecting to receive. If you offered a free report on negotiating a mortgage, that is what they are expecting. The auto-responder should be CAN-SPAM compliant and offer subscribers an easy way to remove themselves. 

What to look for when choosing a co-registration network?

Because co-registration is such a simple way to get a bounty of leads, there are a lot of network providers to choose from. Make sure you find one that is ethical, reputable and uses only best practices. Here are some fundamental guidelines for your search:

Be sure the network you’re dealing with clearly states it will not resell your leads. Make sure the network discloses where your offer will be placed. Networks should be able to post real-time leads for immediate follow-up. Confirm that brokers and networks are 100% opt-in (and ask how they define “opt-in”)

The key to successful co-reg programs is transparency and interactivity between all three participants – publishers, advertisers and registrants/ subscribers. Subscribers need to be made aware of their options so they can actively participate in sharing their email address, and publishers need to be aware of what offers are being presented to subscribers. This fundamental component of co-registration programs will ensure both advertiser and publisher goals are met with success.


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