Debt collectors added digital communications to their omnichannel outreach strategies as soon as regulators gave the green light on emailing, texting and other forms of digital communication. While each channel has its pros and cons, testing can help you identify which channel may work best for different types of consumers. For example, some people may be more likely to open and respond to emails than a text or letter. Emailing can also be less expensive than sending texts, direct mail or making phone calls. To successfully incorporate email and ensure right-party contact, you need a verified and up-to-date email list.

What is email append?

Email append is the process of adding email addresses to contact information in an existing database. An email append service can do this by using a proprietary database of consumer contact information to match an email address to a contact’s name, phone number and physical address. Reverse email append can also be used to find a consumer’s physical address based on their email address.

Marketing companies and departments have used email append to build their contact lists for years, as emails provide inexpensive and direct access to consumers.

Around the world, 72 percent of business leaders say they rely on email when trying to reach or stay in touch with customers. And 59 percent said email data would be the most important type of contact data to have over the next year.1

Now, debt collectors can benefit from email as well. For example, Experian has worked with a collector to conduct an A/B test by adding email to the collector’s current phone-based outreach. As a result, 25 percent of debtors on the test population paid by email.2  

Read: Tip sheet: Strengthening Your Debt Collection Strategy

Why add email to your digital contact strategy?

Email can help you reach consumers on their preferred channel at their convenience. You can convey a large amount of information in an easily scannable email, which consumers may be more likely to read than a text message. And if you’re using automated collections via self-service portals and chatbots, you need to consider how to get consumers to your website. 

Our previous analysis found digital outreach can work well when combined with an online recovery system:3  

  • 52 percent of consumers who visited a collector’s website agreed to a payment schedule after receiving the right offer. 
  • 21 percent of consumers visited the website before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. 
  • 56 percent of consumers who committed to a payment plan did so on their first visit to the website.

Email can be one of the best ways to reach consumers who prefer interacting with your website or portal outside standard business hours. Additionally, as a low-cost channel, you can incorporate email into an optimized strategy based on your current objectives, such as minimizing monthly expenses or maximizing dollars collected. 

Watch the tech showcase to find out how Experian® Optimize and PowerCurve® Customer Management can help collectors increase profitability and improve operational efficiency.

Keeping your email list clean and updated

Sending emails to addresses that are undeliverable or unused can waste time and money. Verification can help to ensure your messages get to the intended recipients, avoiding potential third-party disclosures. Additionally, email service providers track your outreach. If your emails frequently bounce or get marked as spam, future emails could be automatically block-listed or sent to spam. 

  • Email verification: Verification solutions can look for and correct mistakes in email addresses, such as an extra space or typo. They can also scrub your email list for addresses you don’t want to email, such as a consumer’s workplace email, and test email addresses for deliverability. 

Ideally, organizations can collect and verify emails in real-time during onboarding. However, this may be easier for creditors than collectors. For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Credit Card Market report from 2023 found:

  • In 2022, 88 percent of cardholders had a valid email address and agreed to receive emails from card issuers. Only 59 percent were eligible for text message communications.
  • 63 percent of the cardholders receive at least one email related to debt collection.
  • 36 percent of delinquent cardholders who received an email opened the email in 2022 — an increase from 32 percent in 2020.4  

Collectors might not have the same initial access and ongoing communication with consumers, but they can still create a compliant email list with email append.

Experian can help build your email list

Our email append services can help debt collectors improve their digital contact strategy and increase right-party contact via email. Some of the benefits of our services include: 

  • A collections-permissioned database: We've been collecting email data for over 20 years and created a database with approximately 2.1 billion email addresses, provided by consumers that have opted in for marketing, including over 275 million emails for U.S. adults. Some email databases are only permissioned for marketing or identity purposes. Our database is also permissioned for collections and we can help you stay in compliance. 
  • Freshest data:  We update our database with 10M to 40M records monthly and verify every new email address. You can append several emails to each contact as many consumers have multiple active email addresses.
  • Reverification before appending: Verified emails that are appended to your contact list are reverified again to ensure the address is valid and can receive your email. 
  • Flexible delivery options: Use our real-time API with your online CRM or back-end systems to append and verify emails or use a batch service to append emails with a one-time or recurring engagement. The per-email pricing ensures you’ll only pay if there’s a matched and appended email. 

Connect with an expert to learn how you can leverage these email append services.


  1. Experian (2022). Global data management research
  2. Experian. Return on investment for collectors using email
  3. Experian (2017). Getting in front of the shift to omnichannel collections
  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2023). The Consumer Credit Card Market

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