6 Tips for Curing Email “Back Pain”

Lead progression can be a twinge in any marketer’s side. Email is often marketers’ channel of choice for soothing the process. According to the “2015 Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study,” 87% of the more than 130 B2B marketers surveyed list email as one of their top three channels for driving leads through the funnel, followed by SEO (65%) and social (47%).

But even email isn’t perfect. Indeed, the channel can be a real sore spot for marketers, especially when data hygiene issues are involved. Consider the following from the “2015 Marketing Data Benchmark Report” by Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex: 62% of companies’ email deliverability rank as “questionable” at best.

Derek Slayton, VP of marketing for the data services company, likens marketers’ email ailment to back pain and blames the pang on poor data hygiene, limited staff and resources, and beliefs that data partners are expensive.

“I always refer to it as back pain. You just learn to live with it,” he says. “There are certain exercises that you just don’t do because you know that it hurts your back, you don’t have time to go to the chiropractor, and you think that it’s just too much money and healthcare won’t cover it. I think data is kind of the same way.”

But there are things marketers can do to lessen this strain. Here are six tips for curing email marketing back pain.

1. Cleanse data regularly. According to Slayton, data decays up to 3% per month—that’s about 36% a year. So, it’s vital that marketers practice data hygiene on a regular basis. Not cleansing your email-related data, Slayton says, can result in poor customer experiences and ESP issues. But it’s not enough for marketers to just dust around the edges. To really have an accurate and actionable data set, marketers need to cleanse the whole thing.

“[Marketers] just have bad data in their database and they don’t know which is bad and which isn’t bad,” he says “So, they try to quarantine off the worst and not use it, even though inside of that quarantine there’s really healthy things that they’re not using.”

2. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty. Even though maintaining data hygiene can seem like a daunting task, marketers can do a little sprucing up themselves. For instance, Slayton says that marketers can import their data into an excel sheet and search for bad characters or offensive language to get rid of basic errors. 

3. Capture the data that you need. Data incompleteness is a major issue for many B2B marketers. According to Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex’s report, 84% of the 223 million records analyzed were missing revenue information and 82% didn’t have employee data. Other key, missing data points included absent website domains (72%), industry information (71%), phone numbers (54%), and titles (34%). Slayton recommends that marketers ask their customers for the data needed to segment and then target them with relevant content. Housing all of the contact data in one central location can also help marketers maintain a consistent view of their customers, he adds.

4. Ask the right questions. Every customer has his or her data collection threshold, Slayton says, and many will abandon a Web form once that threshold has been crossed. That’s why he encourages B2B marketers to be thoughtful with their Web form questions and to only ask questions that drive the most personalization—not questions where marketers can find the answer elsewhere (such as through a data partner).

“Don’t ask me how many people work in my company,” he says. “Ask me what my number one pain point is with CRM software.”

Not only can this alleviate tension, but asking thought-provoking questions can also give prospects a clearer idea of how a company can serve them. “If you’re asking me how I structure my analyst relations program, then I know that you’re probably going to help me with my analyst relations program,” Slayton explains.

5. Have a system in place to prevent duplication. Marketing technology is making it easier for marketers to avoid duplicate records. In fact, 90% of files have less than 10% of duplicates, according to Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex. To resolve this problem, it’s important for marketers to have a specific process in place. One approach Slayton recommends is quarantining duplicates and then having a human being review them. However, he discourages marketers from deleting a file without review.

“If you kill one of the records, you might be killing the record that has all of that history that indicates what that person has done,” he says. “In some [cases] you’ve got two records and one has some history, [while] the other has other history; you want to put them both together.”

6. Establish a clear target market. If companies want their data to be aligned, they have to be aligned internally. For instance, Slayton says that it’s important for the entire organization to have a “crystal clear” idea of who their target market is. While he admits that this may not help marketers drive more leads, he says that it will help them pass along higher quality ones.

“If you do that,” he says, “your emails, by definition, will have higher resonance with the people you send them to.”

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