Getting ready to go back to school reminds me of data maintenance and list hygiene. At the end of every summer, I take inventory of the school supplies list, see what we have at home and buy new supplies to get ready for the upcoming school year.
This year, as I helped get my 6th grader prepared, I realized that crayons just don’t cut it for middle school. Actually, they didn’t make the cut for 5th grade, but I wasn’t ready to let go of the fact that maybe, just maybe, she would need a crayon or two throughout the year. The unopened box came home at the end of 5th grade in the same shape it was sent in and just took up space cluttering her desk.
As marketers, our buyers’ needs evolve and we must be able to adapt. Just like the abundance of new 6th grade supplies – locker shelves and locker mirrors (where were those when I was growing up?), new contacts and buyers are out there.
If we have too much clutter with crayons that don’t serve any purpose, we may not have room for the shiny new locker mirrors. And in middle school, those mirrors can make or break you. So why does this have any relevance and why does paying attention to your database matter?
Constantly maintaining your email list and keeping it clean, active and engaged will ensure you are not getting weighed down by non-responsive, inactive and low quality addresses. Keeping these addresses in your database can hurt your overall delivery and campaign performance, leading to decreased revenue. Email addresses that are stale or inactive, that no longer respond to your mail, or no longer fit your buyer profile, can hurt your overall sender reputation and your deliverability.
Establishing good hygiene practices is of paramount importance to the long-term success of your program, and can help avoid revenue loss due to deliverability challenges of not reaching the inbox. Failure to manage your email lists makes you susceptible to spam traps, high unknown email addresses, and users that may no longer fit your buyer profile. Keeping the quality of email addresses in your database pristine will benefit your bottom line.
Data hygiene and list management is effective when used during initial registration or upload, and when constantly reviewed monthly, quarterly or annually based on your needs. Salesfusion hosted a webinar last month featuring Leadspend discussing best practices for list hygiene. In addition to the webinar, here are some simple tips you can incorporate now to keep your lists clean and active
Keeping your list clean at the point of acquisition:
- Check email addresses upfront, prior to any first send. Look for malformed addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), bad addresses (email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org) and role accounts such as abuse@, customerservice@ to eliminate bad records from your list prior to sending.
- Focus on quality over quantity. Make sure that your methods for collecting leads are opt-in and producing quality results.
- Clearly state your opt-in permission request. Ensure all addresses in your database have provided affirmative opt-in permission to receive ongoing messages from you.
- Be upfront and set the expectations of why you are capturing the email address and how you plan to use it in future communications.
- Provide incentives within the first email so that recipients will provide a valid address. Don’t force people to give an email address to access free information or just browse your site – this type of address collection yields fake addresses that will not provide quality results.
Ongoing list maintenance:
- Mail frequently enough to your database so that your list will normalize by continuing to remove bounced addresses.
- Plan for a routine review and inventory of your database. Devise strategies to re-engage or remove addresses that have not opened or clicked in some time.
- Periodically reevaluate your signup process and metrics to ensure your list sources are capturing quality results.
- Make your opt-out request simple and easy. Remove opt-outs and abuse complainers immediately. Provide preference centers to enable contacts to adjust frequency and content of sends rather than unsubscribe.
Pay attention to your database and maintain it, by putting a plan together and taking action. Adjust your list and maintenance strategies so that you can effectively maximize your ROI and revenue. Embrace the change of evolving contacts to keep your database active and thriving. Leave those crayons behind.