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Tactics to Improve List Hygiene

  |  May 7, 2012   |  Comments

An interview with Craig Swerdloff of LeadSpend.

In a recent survey by my firm we asked marketers which acquisition sources they used to acquire email addresses, and the top response (52 percent) was email marketers cite their own website. While acquiring addresses online is an effective means of acquisition, it also can drive list hygiene issues, as users may enter their address incorrectly, or worse, they may intentionally enter false information. I sat down with Craig Swerdloff, CEO and founder of LeadSpend, a firm focused on improving email hygiene.

David Daniels: While it is easy to set up an email registration page, I know every marketer including me is often burdened with sifting through email addresses to determine the valid from the bad. Unfortunately it seems that most marketers don't do that hygiene check before sending and they experience higher email bounce rates as a result. Craig, tell me how this hygiene issue starts and about how LeadSpend approaches the issue of email validation.

Craig Swerdloff: There are two ways in which marketers (unintentionally) collect invalid email addresses, but luckily both can be addressed with a single solution. First, 2 to 5 percent of the time users accidentally mistype their email address on website registration forms, checkout forms, etc. Second, people intentionally enter an invalid email address because they don't trust that the website will handle their information properly. This second challenge is actually more common and can be much more destructive to a company's sender reputation. With LeadSpend's email validation solution integrated into the forms on a website, invalid addresses can be identified before the marketer sends any email. If a visitor enters an invalid email address, they're prompted to reenter a valid one. This not only reinforces the company's value proposition to the consumer, but it also improves the quality of the data collected and ultimately improves the company's sender reputation. The result is fewer hard bounces, less complaints, increased engagement, and better email marketing performance.

DD: How long does it take for your technology to validate an email address? Are visitors left sitting on registration pages and what is the experience like if the email address they enter is bogus?

CS: Across our client portfolio, we see invalid email addresses 2 to 20 percent of the time. Our process of validating an email address typically takes less than a second. To avoid leaving visitors hanging, clients bind our service to the email address field rather than waiting for the visitor to hit submit. This allows us to process the address and return a result while the visitor is still on the page filling in any remaining fields of information.

DD: How does this integrate into my existing email registration process?

CS: It's so easy and smooth as our JavaScript snippet can be installed and bound to your current form(s). Implementation is very simple and we stay with the client every step of the way.

DD: Beyond the real-time validation that you do at the point of registration, what about names that I acquire through other sources, co-registration, and/or list rental?

CS: We have an API for processing leads generated via co-registration, call centers, in retail stores, and other off-site methods. We also have an automated FTP for fast processing of larger email address lists.

DD: What are some suggestions that you have to ensure that my email database is clean and that I am doing all I can to engage with valid email addresses?

CS: There are three simple steps to a clean database. First, we recommend cleaning data at the point of collection before entering it into your database. Second, subscribe to ISP feedback loops and remove hard bounces and complaints. Third, remove or separate non-responders after a period of time; that length of time should be no less than three months and no more than 18 months. Marketers want to ensure their emails reach the inbox. List hygiene is one of the simplest ways to improve deliverability, increase sender reputation, reduce bounces, and increase ROI. We aim to be that hygiene partner for marketers.

DD: Craig, thanks for your time, do you have any final thoughts that we have not covered here?

CS: Email is still No. 1 for marketing ROI. Getting your email delivered to the inbox is essential, yet increasingly difficult. Responsible marketers deserve better tools to help ensure success and I am proud of what we have accomplished at LeadSpend on their behalf.

Thanks for your insight.

Until next time,

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David Daniels

For more than 20 years, David has been an industry proponent. Direct Magazine said David is "one of the most influential experts in email marketing, if not the most influential." Co-author of "Email Marketing An Hour A Day," David has held senior level positions at Forrester and JupiterResearch, Apple, Anthropologie, MacWarehouse, Proteam, and retailers that dotted the early days of CompuServe. David advises many industry organizations including the OTA, DMA, eec, and has been a contributor to the Weekend Today Show on NBC. Learn more about connected marketing and download free research with registration here. Follow David on Twitter @emaildaniels and learn more at www.relevancygroup.com.

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