I recently wrote about the importance of email as many marketers face new budget cuts and need to stick with proven channels that offer high ROI. Now more than ever, it’s time to make sure your email list is up for the job. Especially since it might not be as clean and accurate as you think it is.
With the recent economic shutdown, there have been massive layoffs and a record rate of unemployment of 14.7% -- the highest since the Great Depression. Even as many businesses across the country begin to reopen, what moves do email marketers need to make now to get in synch with the changes?
The first step is to look at your database. There are millions of corporate email addresses that have suddenly become invalid for employees who have been laid off. Database changes may be pervasive as B2B email lists may now be decaying at a much higher rate than normal.
From my perspective, here’s what every email marketer needs to be doing to reach a relevant audience right now.
Consider the industries you’re targeting and the types of businesses they do business with. While many industries have faced significant challenges and decreased demand, some are running on all cylinders. If a big portion of your audience falls in the latter camp, you may not see a noticeable difference in email validity. But, given the pervasiveness of the crisis, most businesses are feeling some negative impact to one or more of their buyer personas.
If you’ve been working to close a deal with a specific contact and your emails are now going unanswered, it’s possible the person no longer works there. Or if your email delivery and open rates have been less than stellar recently, this may be the reason. Analyze your campaign analytics -- including delivery, open and hard-bounce rates -- to identify any major changes. It may become clear the poor results are due to data decay and need to be remedied. Expect your email marketing bounce rates and performance to decline while layoffs continue, over the next few weeks especially.
We all know that dirty data is bad news, from poor campaign results to wasted time and money. Additionally, bad data can damage your email sender reputation, putting you at risk with ESPs (email service providers) who could blacklist your company, preventing you from emailing at all -- even with new, clean data.
B2B data regularly decays up to 70% per year, which is why at OMI we view data as a Living File that needs to be regularly maintained and updated to accurately reflect the contact person it represents. Now, that mentality is even more important.
Manual data correction is a detailed and labor-intensive process. In fact, manual correction can actually do more harm than good by damaging legacy data and introducing new data entry errors. And for larger databases, by the time the process is completed it will need to be started all over again due to inevitable data decay. The reality is, it takes specialized tools and expertise to get the job done right. That’s why many marketers, especially those with large databases and a high volume of contacts, turn to a database cleansing service to automate the process of removing, correcting and replacing inaccurate data. At OMI, we use data cleansing to maintain the quality of our own business contact records and offer it as a service for our clients’ databases to provide increased deliverability and engagement. In one case for a leading telecom provider with 35 million records, data cleansing improved their email validity and accuracy by 37%. For ongoing accuracy, look for a service that also provides a cleansing maintenance program to continuously optimize data accuracy and validity.
Right now, marketing departments should prioritize replacing lost leads due to layoffs or downsizing. Obviously there are many channels from which to source leads, but in today’s work-from-home environment, acquisition email data has taken on increased relevance. You can use it to target new contacts that align with your buyer personas or mirror your current customers. Look for targets that match your specifications, and of course, ensure the data is clean and high quality. (At OMI, we guarantee 95% email validity for 30 days – well beyond what other data providers offer.)
The bottom line is this: with more than 25 million layoffs already behind us, the time is now to start validating and scrubbing your entire email list to purge invalid records. Clean data is what moves the needle for sales leads and marketing ROI.
And for the most effective results, my recommendation is to use acquisition email data together with a monthly cleansing and contact replacement program. This will enable you to reach new contacts and drive business growth, even in the most challenging times.
What strategies are you using to navigate today’s complex marketing and sales landscape?
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.