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Email Data Hygiene: The Key to Effective Email Campaigns

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Establishing a market presence for your enterprise can be difficult nowadays, not least due to the competitiveness of the modern company. However, through e-commerce, burgeoning enterprises have a way of gaining direct access to their target consumers, regardless of their geographic location.

To maximize this opportunity, businesses worldwide are turning to email marketing as a way of garnering attention and generating engagement for their brands. However, though email marketing provides a clear path to business growth, actually rolling out an email strategy is nowhere near as simple as it looks. 

In truth, email marketing has developed into something of science in its own right, and there are many aspects which must be taken into account if you are to achieve genuine success with your campaigns. Chief among these aspects is email data hygiene, as it plays a direct role in your ability to reach your subscribers with your copy.

What is email data hygiene?

Email data hygiene encompasses a range of activities and practices through which you maintain your subscriber mailing lists. This is a primary element of a modern, ethical approach to email marketing, and a core aspect of how marketers optimize email marketing campaigns. For this reason, good email data hygiene is considered a pillar of what constitutes an effective email marketing initiative.

When data hygiene is discussed, the term is often conflated with email list cleaning, also known as list scrubbing. This is a process of regularly removing unhelpful email addresses from lists, usually once every month. While list cleaning is related to email data hygiene, it is just one component of it and must be combined with best practices in order to achieve optimal results.

How can email data hygiene affect campaign effectiveness?

As was mentioned before, email data hygiene plays a considerable role in the eventual effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. This is largely due to how it helps preserve your deliverability – the likelihood that your messages will successfully arrive in user inboxes.

When users allow their email addresses to become invalid through disuse, internet service providers (ISPs) routinely convert them into spam traps, which are designed to punish questionable sending practices. In addition, misspelled addresses also frequently lead to spam traps. Should you have such addresses on your list, they will cause your messages to bounce, and this will harm your reputation from the perspective of mailbox providers (MBPs) and increase the chance that your emails are caught in spam filters and end up in users’ junk folders.

By the same token, when users stop interacting with your content and fall into inactivity, they harm key metrics such as open rate and click rate. These are also taken into account when MBPs assign you a reputation score. That means that continuing to send messages to inactive addresses is also detrimental to campaign effectiveness.

To reduce such risks and ensure that you can consistently reach your subscribers’ mailboxes, you must remove such addresses when necessary and take preventative measures to ensure that your lists need as little scrubbing as possible.

How to maintain good email data hygiene

The best way to maintain good email data hygiene is to adhere to email marketing best practices. Among others, these practices include the following:

  • Use organic mailing lists

Buying email lists is a highly problematic practice that often does more harm than good, so it’s advisable to grow your lists yourself through organic means. This involves using a permission-based subscription method, preferably a double opt-in.

By employing a two-step system, a double opt-in will ask users to confirm their consent to being placed on your list. This helps to avoid the risk of hitting on typo spam traps and ensures high levels of engagement that will reflect well in your performance metrics.

  • Provide opt-down and opt-out mechanisms

Making it difficult for your subscribers to opt out or customize email frequency will frustrate them and potentially result in a spam report for you. Obviously, this could be catastrophic if enough subscribers elect to do this, so it’s best to put the control in their hands.

By offering convenient opt-down and opt-out links in your emails, you can allow your lists to curate themselves to some extent, thus preserving their quality.

  • Segment your subscriber base

Your lists may be organic, but they are not impervious to degradation. Once active addresses can become spam traps, and promising leads can go cold. This is an unfortunate reality of email marketing, but you can take measures to reduce the risks associated with list degradation.

Using your email marketing platform, you can easily segment your subscribers by analyzing engagement metrics. This will enable you to know ahead of time when an address is becoming dead weight, and subsequently remove them during list cleaning. As a result, you can protect your deliverability and maintain campaign effectiveness. 

Wrapping up

To make a lasting impression on your target audience, you have to be able to reliably reach them. Deliverability is critical in email marketing, and for that, you need good email data hygiene. By being attentive, following email marketing best practices, and carrying out frequent list scrubbing, you can maintain a high level of data hygiene to achieve optimal campaign effectiveness.