From Hoarders to Tidying Up, Americans are obsessed with the struggle to organize their ever-expanding collections of stuff. Most of this stuff is disposable and, in the words of Marie Kondo, doesn’t spark joy.
Email marketers often need a good dose of tidying up, too. Marketers work hard to build up their lists, and then hang on to those lists long past their usability.
Hoarding your email lists can only bring trouble:
- Higher spam scores
- Incorrect customer information
- Old or outdated customer profiles
- Cluttered CRM and marketing automation tools
- Reduced sense of calm and joy
Okay, that last one may be an exaggeration, but just as decluttering your junk drawer can bring a sense of calm and accomplishment, so can tidying up your email lists.
Data in any form degrades quickly. We’d like to think that once we’ve got an email address we have the key to the customer, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
You can expect a significant portion of your data to be out of date within 3 months of gathering it, and 22 percent of your list will be outdated in a year. It’s better to proactively remove those folks from your list instead of just waiting for those emails to bounce.
Start tidying up your data and get better-targeted email lists, starting with these six types of data purges.
1. Bounced addresses
You should be purging bounced email addresses after every send, but sometimes we get lazy and forget to clean out our current lists. Bounces can raise your spam score and mess with your metrics, so go ahead and get rid of those email addresses now. It’ll increase your open and click rates for future emails, too.
Once you’ve cleaned the bounced emails from your email service provider (ESP), flag these email addresses for an update in your CRM. There’s no reason to keep bad information in your CRM if you’ve already verified its inaccuracy with an email send. You may, in turn, need to flag those CRM contacts for updates and verifications by phone or social media outreach.
2. Date of last engagement
Do your contacts delete your emails without opening them? Send your calls straight to voicemail and never return? Okay, well, stop bothering them. Some folks won’t even put in the effort to unsubscribe from emails, so you’ll need to update your lists on your own. Purge these folks from your CRM and your email lists. If you’re afraid of getting rid of those hard-earned contacts, then separate these out from your master list and put them in an archive.
Some folks suggest sending a re-engagement email. Often, these emails just end up confirming what you thought would happen. But remember, these folks don’t normally engage, so they’re probably not sparking joy. Time to get them off your plate.
3. Customer lifetime value
Some of your customers are going to be more valuable than others. There are plenty of reasons why customers spend money differently, but you should know who your big spending profiles are and pay attention to them.
These are the folks that you do greater personalization for, that you send exclusive content, that you invite to your user conferences, and that you probably take out to dinner when you’re in town. Pare down your list so you can see who those big spenders are.
That doesn’t mean that you purge all but the top one percent of spenders, but there are going to be some customers that buy something from you once and then never come back. Invest in the folks that are invested in you, and they will reward you by spending more.
4. Coupon chasers
Are some customers just in it for the discounts? These folks may actually end up costing you more than you think. With a good marketing automation system and a little vlookup spreadsheet magic, you can get a pretty clear view of the folks that are only interacting with your coupons and discounts.
Discounts are no way to grow revenue, so think about getting rid of the folks that rely on you for coupons. Once you filter and focus your email lists, you may find you don’t have to give away discounts at all.
5. Missing information
Got an email address but don’t have a name, address, title, phone number, or another piece of information attached to it? Update it or purge it. Get rid of it.
Missing information on your contacts turns them into junk. You can’t segment with just an email address—you have to have some sort of context there, too. Don’t have time to update all of your contacts? This is a great job to outsource to a VA or an intern. Validate that data.
Not ready to throw away all that precious data? Segmentation is a stepping stone to a data purge. Split your CRM data into lots of different lists, and you’ll have an easier time of throwing away one or two of those lists later. Afraid of letting all those hard-earned contacts go to the digital junkyard? Archive the least important lists and discard any list that you don’t use after 6 months.
Every single article about email marketing ever talks about segmentation, so why am I repeating it here? Because it’s important, and not enough people are doing it. Segment your lists. Split them up, make sure you’re targeting the right people for the right products, and remove people from other lists so they don’t receive ads for products they don’t want.
Here are a couple of ways you can segment:
Product interest segmentation
Unless you only have one product, you should segment your email lists by what current customers have already purchased. This doesn’t mean that you send them more messages for the same item they just bought. Instead, use your knowledge of the target audience or your shopping platform’s AI to generate product suggestions based off of purchase habits.
Whether you target your audience based on customer profiles, job titles, or company description, look to your customer types and your data to build tightly focused email lists for your outreach. Which of your customers don’t fit inside your customer profile? Are you wasting your email sends on these folks? Which are absolutely necessary?
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