Your database is only as good as your email marketing strategy. Your email list may be cluttered with irrelevant contacts who aren’t interested in your offer.
Incorrect, incomplete, invalid, out-of-date, inconsistent, or otherwise unusable information may plague your email list. Here’s how to assess your list, with common problems and solutions.
Evaluating Email List Hygiene
Here is a list of indicators to help you assess your email list’s hygiene:
- A high hard bounce rate indicates invalid email addresses. They aren’t delivered, whether they came from a vendor or were manually entered. Bounce rates of 3% or more are considered a sign that your email list needs cleaning.
- If you notice reduced customer/prospect engagement with your emails despite targeting the right audience, your contact information may be incorrect.
- This should be done at least once a year to check for unsubscribers if you haven’t done it recently.
- Is your contact list full of junk or blank fields? Cleaning your list horizontally is as important as vertically.
- Validation controls for each data field on your lead/contact forms.
- If your email marketing team’s cost-to-return ratio is too low, it’s time to review your lists.
Common Problems and Solutions
Here are some common email list issues and how to fix them.
1. Find Duplicate Contacts
Perhaps the most critical aspect of email list cleaning. The same person usually has multiple contact records. You can have separate contacts for their work and personal emails, or you can create new contacts rather than update old ones.
Use data matching to fix it. You can use an obvious unique identifier in your email list to match contacts, but this is rare. Teams buy data matching tools that use phonetic, numeric, fuzzy, or other proprietary algorithms. Once matched, you can choose to merge contacts or purge them from your email database.
2. Look for application inconsistencies
Companies commonly use CRM, marketing automation, and webforms. Multi-end data generation and storage causes inconsistencies. Because no single database is used throughout the organization, you doubt the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Fixing it: Dump the cleaned email list somewhere centrally accessible to all departments. Also, use standardized fields and validation controls when creating contacts. This will ensure that all contacts are validated consistently.
3. Look for inexact, incomplete, or invalid data
Observe the following cases to find these issues:
- A lot of empty fields
- Numerous typos and misspellings
- Data fields that don’t match the pattern
Fixing it: Begin by profiling your list. This will highlight issues and possible solutions. A data profile should show you how many records have blank fields and how many fields in a column do not match the pattern. Pattern matching is important for detecting invalid email addresses or phone numbers. Having a data profile for your email list will help you plan your cleaning tasks.
Effects of Bad Email List Hygiene
Unclean email lists can cause serious issues for an organization, such as:
- With duplicate records, your email marketing team will send the same contact twice, affecting brand reputation. Duplicating marketing efforts wastes time and resources.
- Sending emails to invalid addresses will cause ISPs to block the sender’s domain, preventing your content from reaching your audience.
- An unclean contact database may not comply with GDPR, CCPA, etc.
- Affected business intelligence processes, such as extracting actionable insights.
Data cleansing is vital to successful email marketing campaigns. While it can be done manually, it is best to use a tool that can profile, standardize, match, and purge data. Less time spent cleaning your list means more time reaching the right audience.