As a marketer, you work hard every day to grow your e-mail list. You run promotions, solicit Web registrations, fight battles with other departments and basically do anything you can think of to build your list. Unfortunately, not all the data you gather is sound. People make mistakes on registration forms. Customer service reps make keystroking errors. There also are bad apples out there intentionally trying to cripple your list.
And what happens over time? What was once a predominantly healthy list begins to ail. People move. Individuals change jobs. E-mail addresses change.
It’s up to you to keep your e-mail housefiles healthy. The good news: Once you understand the symptoms of an unhealthy list, you can treat them.
Understand the Symptoms
The continued vitality of your e-mail list depends on you noticing the following signals of decay:
Bad e-mail addresses seeping into your list. FreshAddress has been in business since 1999 and has processed more than a billion e-mail addresses for clients. In that time, we’ve never seen a perfectly healthy list. Typos (firstname.lastname@example.org) and bogus entries (email@example.com) are everywhere.
In most computer environments, people are becoming more reliant on technology to catch typos. We’ve come to take for granted the precision of spell-check, the scrutiny of grammar-check and the speed of Microsoft Word’s autocorrect. Unfortunately, those same technology assists are not usually available on Web site registration pages.
In a recent study, FreshAddress registered the same 13 invalid e-mail addresses on 50 top retail Web sites. Not one site tested offered a correction for common spelling errors (e.g., yaho.com). Also, no Web site blocked more than 37 percent of the invalid e-mail addresses entered. Most sites overlooked misspellings, syntax and formatting mistakes; “dead” domains; and bogus e-mail addresses.
The potential ramifications of bad data in your list include: