Well over half of the clients who come to me with delivery problems admit at some point that one of the ways they collect subscribers is through co-registration. They typically have widespread delivery problems at the major ISPs as well as SBL listings.

John Levine posted over the weekend about his thoughts on co-reg.

So a friend asked, is it possible to do coreg that doesn’t stink?
After a variety of more complex suggestions, I offered a simple criterion: if it’s one opt-in, it’s one opt-out. That is, if I signed up in one place, and I later decide that I don’t like all the mail from Our [Trusted Marketing Partners], I want to unsub once and have it all stop.

Therein lies the rub. Most companies selling addresses through co-reg will tell you that they can’t take any responsibility for what happens to the address after the sell it. They will point out it is not financially viable for them to track what happens to their subscribers. The question I have never received a satisfactory answer to is: If you don’t know what your trusted marketing partners are doing with the addresses you are selling to them, how is a subscriber expected to give informed permission

On the flip side, companies who buy co-reg usually have a rash of excuses for why they will not take responsibility for gathering permission from the recipients. They don’t want to send welcome messages. They won’t tell the recipient who sold them the address. They won’t ask sellers how many other senders this address was sold to. They will not confirm the recipient wants mail from them. In my, admittedly biased, experience the entire co-reg industry is about obfuscation and hiding from recipients. This goes equally for the sellers and the buyers.

Over at the Exacttarget blog, Al talks about a successful way to do co-reg.

Direct co-registration is far less problematic. That’s a scenario wherein a site explicitly asks a registrant if they want mail from company X, Y or Z, and then, if the registrant only agrees to mail from company X, only company X is given the registrant’s email address. Sounds like opt-in to me.

His experience matches with mine. If there is transparency in the transaction, that is both the seller and they buyer inform the recipient what is going to happen to an email address then the recipient can make an informed decision. However, when the recipient is just told that their address will be shared, there is no informed opt-in and the recipient treats the mail as spam.


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