How to ensure your email list is clean

2nd Mar 2018

Email marketing is an incredibly valuable asset to any business; but in order to be truly effective you of course need to make sure your messages are actually reaching the right people. Many businesses will be familiar with the disappointment of seeing low open rates; as is shown in the table below from the Marketo Benchmark on Email Marketing report, just getting recipients to stop ignoring your emails is a challenge.

One problem that can potentially have a very damaging effect on your email campaigns is incorrect data - so how do you ensure that your email list is as error-free as possible? Let's take a look at some of the best options for clean data in email marketing.

email marketing

The problem with incorrect data

According to a study conducted by Dynamic Markets, 94% of businesses suspect that their customer data is wrong or incomplete; a rather disturbing figure considering that research from Internet Retailer found that 29% of companies have lost customers due to inaccurate data in their email management services. There are several reasons why having clean, high-quality contact data is so vital in marketing, such as:

  • Money-Saving - Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage of bad data is the financial implications; unclean data costs $83 for every 100 records in a database, according to ReachForce.
  • Time-Saving - The Harvard Business Review notes that marketing staff can spend up to 50% of their time hunting for data, looking for and correcting mistakes and searching for authoritative sources in order to confirm data they are suspicious of.
  • Staff Morale - All of this constant searching and editing of databases can justifiably be frustrating for your team, and with bad data leading to less successful campaigns it's not hard to see how they could become demotivated in the long run, and therefore less productive.

Contact data challenges

Outdated info

In today's fast-paced business world, changes are made to company information at astronomical rates. In the UK alone 80 new businesses are founded every single hour, according to StartUp Britain, and just take a look at the graph below from Target Marketing detailing how many business staff had made changes to their - or their company's - details over a 12-month period.

These changes can have a negative impact on your marketing efforts for obvious reasons; outdated telephone numbers or email addresses mean your messages can't get through, or if you can no longer reach a certain employee thanks to a job change it can often mean your 'in' with their company is lost.

Outdated info

Fake Email Addresses

With any kind of opt-in form you run the risk of having spam bots targeting you; this could even be competitors spying on your activities, meaning data cleansing becomes a question of security of your intelligence too.  There's also the issue of users signing up with false emails in order to gain access to the ethical bribe you're offering (such as a whitepaper or eBook), without receiving further communications from you.

Genuine Mistakes

Of course, not all erroneous data is intentional - it's very easy for details to be added to your database with small mistakes, whether these be by your staff or the customer. In fact, according to research from SYNTHio, 5% of manually entered email addresses are done so incorrectly.

Unengaged Users

As is shown in the graph below from SignUpTo, there is a big contrast between email opens and clicks. Of course, this could be because you need to work on your content and/or call to action, but it could also be a sign that your email list is carrying dead weight; users who are simply no longer interested in your brand.

This could be because they signed up solely because they were interested in receiving your ethical bribe, were conducting research before making a purchase, or gave a general work email (e.g. info@) instead of a direct one. Clearly in these situations it's better to focus on the prospects who are engaging with your company; those that aren't are costing you money with very little chance of payoff.

Unengaged Users

Fixing unclean data

According to research from Marketing Sherpas, B2B data decays at a rate of 2.1% each month - that's over 25% a year. This means that regardless of how careful you are in avoiding fake emails or entering information correctly, your data will always need regular maintenance. When it comes to data cleansing there are two options; manual and electronic.

Manual cleansing

Manual cleansing involves a member of your staff sifting through batches of your data and looking for errors such as duplicate entries, spelling or formatting mistakes, outdated entries, incomplete entries and more. The obvious downside here is the time it takes; particularly for those with large quantities of data and/or a few members of staff.

For example, ensuring that all of the email addresses are correct will require visiting an authoritative source such as the company's website in order to check. As is shown in the graph below from the 2017 State of Inbound report, staff members are already spending large proportions of their day performing data entry - not exactly a productive use of their time.

Manual Cleansing

Electronic cleansing

Companies that wish to have their data electronically cleansed can look into computer applications that are designed to find and then fix certain errors in the database, using a set of rules that the software has been programmed with, depending on the needs of the user. For example, the tool could be used to carry out spell checks, remove duplicate records, or remove files that have remained inactive for a predetermined amount of time.  

The main disadvantage with electronic cleansing, along with the costs involved, is that obviously, no matter how sophisticated the technology involved, it cannot compare to a check from careful human eyes, and therefore cannot offer the same degree of accuracy that a manual cleanse can.  

Global Database – A More Efficient Solution

Gaining access to a reputable B2B database is a more cost-effective and time-saving way to ensure your leads are always of the highest quality possible. Global Database is trusted by market-leading companies thanks to our impressive data accuracy rate; one of the highest in the industry thanks to our numerous and consistent validation checks; including those carried out manually by our team of in-house staff.

It's also easy to qualify leads using our range of demographic filter options; allowing you to build targeted lists featuring the direct contact details for those who are much more likely to be interested in your products - leading to better conversion rates and boosted sales. With 64 million contacts and 18 million company profiles worldwide, you're sure to find thousands of new leads for your sales funnel.

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