Back in the day of direct mail, nearly all marketers had seed names on their lists in order to monitor the delivery time of mailed campaigns, as well as how authorized partners were using their list. Today, the only group I consistently hear speak of seed names are list vendors using them to monitor the number of times and how lists they rent and sell are being used.
Though most of us set up test groups—people within our organizations who will review our test sends—not as many of us have purposefully added names to our lists for monitoring the whole of our business's marketing activity.
Seed names are fictional (or real) names you plant in your lists in order to monitor how often and how the list is being used. As the manager of an agency, you can pepper your lists generously with seed names known only to you and use these for monitoring your department. (If you share seed names with others, you may find they get omitted from sends.)
When you receive email sent to these seed names, behave as a customer might and complete forms, visit pages and start shopping carts in order to audit effectively. Inactivity on your part could cause your seed names to be omitted due simply to lead scoring and decay rules. If your marketing department has multiple people with permission to send, seed names play an important role in monitoring and it's easy to set up.
Seed names are valuable incoming as well as outgoing. When you subscribe to other lists—especially those from peers who you're using as a source of ideas for your own campaigns—monitor how those businesses are using your information by creating seed names. You may need your local IT guru for this, but by accessing a catchall email address, you can subscribe to lists with specificity such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for Target Marketing Magazine and Amazon respectively. Using this method, you can easily see from where the subscription originated and whether or not these companies are using your data in the way you expected.
Email marketing is the most effective way to increase sales, improve service, and keep your customers engaged. Email campaigns are best bolstered through an integrated strategy that crosses channels and meets your constituents where they congregate and in the media they prefer. “The Integrated Email” provides best practices and ideas for developing strategies and deploying email campaigns and initiatives while keeping an eye on revenue attributable to marketing.
Cyndie Shaffstall, founder, Spider Trainers, is a successful entrepreneur and prolific author, with many books, dozens of eBooks, and hundreds of articles to her credit. She is the former founder of ThePowerXChange, editor and publisher of X-Ray Magazine, and the current founder and managing member of Spider Trainers, a managed automated email services provider for companies around the world. Connect with Cyndie on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or join her LinkedIn Group, the Marketing Resource Library for daily links to marketing-critical resources.