Four Steps Email Marketers Should Take Before Using Old Customer Data
A crowd of people gathered around a cornerstone of a building in Brooklyn. They could barely contain their excitement that October day in 2014.
A time capsule from 1950 was about to be opened, revealing mysterious contents. No one knew what to expect. Historical treasures? Letters from the past? Maybe even gold bars or valuable collectibles? The crowd strained to hear what officials would announce to the crowd as they opened the container.
“It’s all full of mud!” the city officials exclaimed to the crowd, as the box was unearthed and opened. Photographers clicked away at the mottled contents. While underground, water and dirt had crept in to the metal box, leaving the crowd in 2014 with not much to see but oxidized orange sludge.
A few illegible newspapers, ruined microfilm, and a coin were found, but the contents were roundly considered a bust.
Email marketers must feel much the same excitement mixed with uncertainty when they receive old contact lists to open up and add to their email lists. This is a scenario many email marketers face.
This kind of legacy data could come from various circumstances:
- One company joins another, and submits legacy data that could be fruitful, but most likely needs attention and management.
- Unused legacy data starts looking more appealing to re-use around peak sales times, when every email that goes out could spell more sales.
- A new member of the sales team submits new contacts that have never been added to your database.
- An existing business unit’s data is combined with yours due to new processes that remove data silos for full integration across your organization.
It’s not something that happens all of the time, but eventually in email marketing, you may have to decide how to handle legacy data.
Whatever the source, legacy data needs your attention to derive value. Just as the archivists who opened the 1950s time capsule remarked that a little waterproofing could have gone a long way, your data needs care and management so it won’t risk your existing email marketing programs. Contacts that are on one of these legacy lists could easily have changed their email addresses, or forgotten they were ever on these lists in the first place.
Here is the one part of this blog post that you should not skip over: The first thing you should do is explore the actual sources of this legacy data. If the sources indicated that these email addresses were opted-in initially, then you can proceed with the next steps listed below.
If you cannot find any evidence that these contacts ever opted in to email communication (perhaps the list was purchased before you were ever involved), definitely leave that data alone.
Moving forward with any kind of contact to these email addresses could be a violation of the US CAN-SPAM act, or the newer Canadian CASL law. Sending to even one of those old email addresses could greatly hurt your email marketing efforts as whole.
Once you know the opt-in status of your legacy list, the most important things to consider with legacy data are validation, cleansing, and opting in these contacts anew.
Email list cleaning helps remove invalid email addresses (especially when 30% of email addresses change on most contact lists year over year). This is done through email validation, a 4-step process that checks for email standards in the address and determines if a domain name and username both exist. By validating your contact lists, you avoid a high bounce rate, which can hurt your overall email marketing efforts by bringing down your sender reputation.
Using email hygiene to perform list cleaning will remove any possible threats to your sender reputation. Email hygiene works as a forensics unit for your email contact lists. It lets you find suspicious email addresses so you can remove them – before contacting them. This kind of bad contact data is especially likely to show up in legacy data.
You should do these two steps – email list cleaning and email hygiene – first, before you ever email these legacy contacts.
Finally, use some creativity to send these contacts an email asking them to opt back in. It is best to send these out in small batches over time, instead of all at once. Any contacts who do not respond should not be contacted any longer.
Obviously, all of these steps will drastically reduce the number of contacts on your legacy data list. However, contacting these previously opted-in email addresses without taking any of these steps is not wise. Many of them are likely to report you, because they will not have opted in to your communications, or won’t remember doing so.
Don’t be disappointed like the openers of the time capsule, who were let down when nothing too exciting was found. Follow these steps to bring down the risks that legacy data can create, and you can find value.
Every email marketer needs to know how to protect their organization’s sender reputation and reduce the bounce rate for better customer communication. Phone numbers and mailing addresses are also key pieces of the contact record that need to be verified before they are used and on an ongoing basis.
How does that work? To learn more about validating your contact data in real-time and using it to communicate with customers in the channels they prefer, attend this live webinar coming up on May 21. Informatica Data as a Service representatives will be showing you each step to reduce costs, reach more customers, and manage your data quality.
Webinar May 21 at 2 pm EST: Register Now
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