The Effects of Dirty Email Data

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Inaccurate or incomplete data often means less return in email marketing. A recent report shows how some marketers are cleaning up their email records.

Email remains at the core of many marketing plans, but in the past year more than 73% of companies report having problems with deliverability. That's according to Experian Data Quality's recently released study, “The 2015 Email Data Quality Trends Report.” Those surveyed say poor deliverability leads to a number of issues, including the inability to communicate with subscribers (41%), poor customer service (24%), regulatory hurdles (22%), unnecessary costs (22%), and lost revenue (15%).

“Email data quality is a key component of ensuring deliverability,” Spencer Kollas, VP of global deliverability for Experian Marketing Services, said in a release about the study. “If you have bad data coming in, then the email results are diminished. The high degrees of inaccuracy we are seeing in email databases means that many companies are missing opportunities to interact with consumers, build brand loyalty, and generate revenue.” In fact, analysts from Experian warn that poor email deliverability also results in missed opportunities that stem from lost opens and impressions, as well as cascading negative effects on the sender's reputations, list health, and, ultimately, sales.

Respondents did, however, list several ways they're improving their email interactions with customers. The number one method is increased personalization (50%), followed by improved customer intelligence (43%), better quality email addresses (39%), more relevant content (36%), better customer name data (35%), and the use of marketing automation (20%).

The report also lists varying ways that email marketers are managing their email databases, which often can suffer from incomplete, inaccurate, or out-of-date data. Some of the top management strategies include validating new email addresses (55%), implementing reactivation campaigns (45%), removing hard bounces (41%), suppressing inactive email subscribers (39%), and following CAN-SPAM guidelines (36%). Interestingly, respondents say that the top reason for difficulties managing their data is simply human error (64%).

Other findings include:

Thirty-seven percent of respondents say spam trap hits are a sign of deliverability issues; other signs of deliverability problems include trouble reaching the inbox (29%), customer complaints (20%), and sender reputation (19%).

Those surveyed cited several methods for tracking the success of email campaigns. The top three are tracking leads that come from email campaigns (46%), tracking revenue connected to email marketing (45%), and tracking opens (42%).

Twenty-one percent of respondents say they clean their email data daily; that's closely followed by cleaning at the point of capture (20%), and then monthly (16%), sporadically depending on the channel (11%), and never (5%).

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