Return Path, Experian Extend Alliance

Return Path stands to broaden the distribution of its e-mail change of address service, through an expanded alliance with consumer data giant Experian.

The alliance between the two firms will have Experian offering Alley-based Return Path’s service as part of its eSeries product suite, a bundled set of e-business and online marketing tools. The suite includes list management tools, e-mail marketing delivery and campaign management, Web personalization software and e-mail append tools — which add e-mail addresses to offline house files.

Now, built-in support for Return Path’s e-mail change of address service (dubbed ECOA) will provide a way for eSeries clients to continue reaching consumers, even after changes in e-mail addresses.

Return Path was one of a handful of firms that debuted in recent years in response to growing concern over e-mail bouncebacks from customers’ address changes — and the resulting degradation in e-mail lists. Return Path, which merged with competitor Veripost last year, aims to address that problem with a tool that lets consumers register themselves for free with a service that informs friends — and marketers — about their new addresses.

For Return Path, which said it’s signed more than four million addresses since its start in 2000, the move represents an expansion of its strategy to pursue distribution deals with major marketing players. Previously, Experian had been reselling Return Path ECOA, but the new agreement broadens the agreement to software integration.

“This alliance represents a principal relationship in our distribution strategy,” said Return Path chief executive officer Matt Blumberg. “Return Path ECOA has proven to be an excellent strategic fit with Experian’s eSeries suite of online marketing tools, and the initial feedback we have received from Experian clients has been very positive.”

The move comes amid continuing efforts by Experian, a unit of Great Universal Stores plc, to build up its online marketing solutions, which it hopes to cross-sell to its offline clients.

Last May, Experian bought the Exactis e-mail marketing unit of a downsizing 24/7 Media. In previous months, the consumer data and credit processing giant inked marketing deals with and e-mail player FloNetworks, which is now a unit of DoubleClick.

“This powerful alliance strengthens Experian’s suite of online marketing solutions,” said Deborah Zuccarini, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Experian’s marketing solutions unit. “We have integrated our online solutions within our traditional campaign production and management systems so that we can execute seamless online and offline promotions.”

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