Third-party email acquisition is a lesser-known traffic type within the partnership world. It offers a high degree of scalability and allows brands to access consumers in one of the most intimate mediums: the inbox. Across the top networks, there are anywhere between 200 to 300 million unique US-based email addresses. Because of the intimate nature and scalability of the channel, it can be a costly channel and usually works best for high LTV products and services where paying, at times, close to $100 for an early lead, is still economically viable. While not all mailers require that much of an investment, there are brands that are willing to pay that high across the same set number of emails delivered, so this channel scales best for brands with high LTV customers.
How it works
Third-party email networks have access to submailers who collect millions of opted-in personal emails. This could be a content site that has a newsletter or an online mortgage calculator that requires a user to give their email address in return for an estimate. When a user checks off the box to complete the form submit, they are agreeing to receive marketing offers from external partners. This allows the mailer to email the user with relevant offers. Mailers work with networks to see a range of offers they can promote to their email database. For any leads that come from the emails sent, brands – our clients – pay them for that lead or sale. These mailers often work on a cost per email delivered basis, or for specific industries or offers that they are confident will resonate with their audience, they can work on a cost per action basis too.
Scalable Opportunity with Close Monitoring Required
Launching third-party email as a channel within your partnership program is more challenging and involved than other channels. Launching a program includes ensuring suppression compliance as emails are legally sent from the advertiser, which means consumers who have opted out of emails from the brand cannot be emailed. This alone can represent a challenge for brands as they are now sharing sensitive information with third parties. Will emails be hashed in MD5 or SHA-512? How does a more stringent security requirement impact the cost and scale of the program? Likewise, as this channel has historically not been deployed by leading brands, submailers are often used in delivery strategies that are not brand-friendly. Ensuring mailers are within our clients' guidelines requires working closely with networks. Finally, optimizing the payouts and budgets based on the performance of a given submailer requires working through a massive amount of data and often connecting it with internal LTV data to be able to make effective commissions decisions. Collectively, these challenges make email a high-reward, high-bandwidth channel. For the right brands, it's an incredible opportunity if scaled cautiously and managed closely.