Advertising, Marketing & PR  March 20, 2015

Enough already! Fix those email lists

Raise your hands, anybody: Have you received the same email from the same organization more than four times in a matter of minutes?

This points to a lack of precision at the organization that’s sending out these multiple emails. The perception at best is that they are shorthanded, and can’t keep on top of their very important database of customers. At worst, a recipient might be grumbling, “Why do they persist in annoying the heck out of me?”

If you don’t spend time to clean your email lists, it just looks bad. I can think of one big entertainment facility in the region that bombards me with repetitive sendouts. It’s aggravating to me and bad for their brand.

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Did you know that Internet Service Providers can blacklist email senders who “over-send” or who don’t follow established email rules? They literally stop emails before they ever reach their intended target.

To you, it’s all about deliverability, so how do you make sure your email gets there once, and once only?

The answer is to put effort into de-duping your lists. Make it a priority. If your database is made up of a number of different groups of email addresses, use a tool or service that will merge them together and then purge the dupes. This is called “merge/purge” and it’s a smart way to detect duplication and keep the best records on file. You can set the criteria that will ensure you retain the most relevant information for the final single record. By the way, many services will also correct common misspellings and add missing characters to the domain name and extensions of your recipient’s email address!

Besides the data hygiene that results from de-duping and correcting your list, you might want to have an outside service update your existing email lists. They can take your old customer and prospect files and bring them up to date by replacing, wherever possible, the email addresses of recipients who have changed. How do they do this? Large mailing houses store the databases of many companies and can cross-index the files to provide each recipient’s new contact information.

Then there’s email appending. It’s not without controversy. Say you have contacts in your database that don’t have email addresses. These large mailing houses and list management firms will run your direct (hard copy) mailing lists through their systems and add an email address to a contact where they have that information already stored in their massive systems. Having an email address for a contact is worth its weight in gold;  it can make your old records come to life again. But what’s the controversy?

Privacy-centric recipients might see adding email addresses to your current contact list as spam. Do this appending with caution if you are in a business-to-consumer environment, especially. Some appenders (if that’s a word) vow to run the discovered email address through a number of filters, such as “unsubscribes” and “do not email” so you are not pinging the inbox of hostile recipients. Still, proceed with caution.

How do you grow your own email list over time? First make whatever you are publishing worth reading. Target your emailers to a prospect’s true self-interest. Also, put a ‘subscribe’ button everywhere you have a digital presence. You can have a page on your Facebook business page that encourages subscriptions to your e-newsletter – even showing the latest edition right there. Make it tantalizing. If you are running a webinar or event, make part of the signup process an option to subscribe to your regular emailings. Show those emailings and make it clear to viewers of your promotions that these are worth receiving.

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

Raise your hands, anybody: Have you received the same email from the same organization more than four times in a matter of minutes?

This points to a lack of precision at the organization that’s sending out these multiple emails. The perception at best is that they are shorthanded, and can’t keep on top of their very important database of customers. At worst, a recipient might be grumbling, “Why do they persist in annoying the heck out of me?”

If you don’t spend time to clean your email lists, it just looks bad. I can think of…

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