Home  › Email › Email Marketing

Is Your E-Mail List Clean or Dirty?

  |  June 13, 2005   |  Comments

The hows and whys of e-mail list cleansing.

I've talked a lot about getting email delivered and presented strategies for working with ISPs. Today, the topic is list cleanliness -- or lack thereof. A basic reason your email may be not getting through is your database is dirty.

The folks at FreshAddress, an email building and updating firm (much like Return Path and DirectMailers), shared some case histories illustrating how they've helped turn clients' dirty lists into clean, deliverable ones that produce results:

  • Leading hotel chain. A leading hotel chain had 1.5 million email records that consistently yielded very high bounce rates. Efforts to reconnect with past customers were becoming less effective with each passing month as the list grew older and more stale. Using FreshAddress' email change of address (ECOA) system, the company was able to update 155,000 records with deliverable email addresses. The hotel was able to reverse the trend and see positive results from its email program.

  • Online publisher. An Internet publisher had an old but working list of over a million records on a hard drive. The company wanted to see what it could salvage to use email to generate revenue. Most would simply delete such an old database. Instead, the publisher was able to identify, correct, and update almost 70,000 records. This cleaned segment now provides viable revenue and more than justified the cost of cleaning the list.

  • Rewards provider. A rewards provider had a bounce problem with 250,000 records. Using the ECOA, it corrected 52,750 email addresses (21.1 percent of the bounces). The list is now useable again.

The lesson is simple: you've got to spend time, effort, and money to keep a database clean. Otherwise, it will vanish over time.

"You can expect, on average, to recover 5 to 20 percent of your undeliverable email database, depending on age. The key is to regularly run your list through an updating service so you can reconnect with your customers before your competitors find them," said Bill Kaplan, CEO of FreshAddress. "It's like preventative medicine; take some now to keep your bottom line healthy." Kaplan suggests quarterly updates to keep lists squeaky clean.

Chances are you spent a fair amount of effort and money to build your database. If those names performed well for you in the past, keep them clean. Doing so minimizes bounces and customer defections; Increases open and click-through rates; and minimizes chances of being blacklisted.

The NCOA process typically performs the following types of hygiene on your list:

  • Identify e-addresses that are no longer deliverable ("dead" addresses).

  • Identify and correct obvious typos, such as bfoley@hotmial.com or ssmith@yaho.com.

  • Identify test and prank records, such as asdf@yahoo.com and test@msn.com.

  • Find and remove records such as abuse@hotmail.com that somehow snuck into your database.

  • Remove duplicates (you'd be surprised how many there are!).

These services typically charge a nominal one-time analysis fee, plus a charge of $0.40 to $1 for each record cleaned, depending on volume.

If you think about it, the cost to reconstitute a clean, ready-to-mail, no-bounce list may be significantly lower than acquiring a new customer or prospect with an online acquisition program. Do the math and figure out whether having a clean, deliverable database of consumers who have maintained a relationship with your company is worth the investment.

Keep reading...

Vote for your favorite products, services, and campaigns! The ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards recognize ClickZ readers' choices for achievement and innovation in online marketing technology, solutions, and execution. Voting runs until Wednesday, June 22 (EOB, EST).

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...