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How to Keep your B2B Lists Clean & Accurate

How to Keep your B2B Lists Clean & Accurate

Is your email marketing campaign struggling to attract attention? If so, the problem could lie with your B2B lists. Unless you are regularly engaged in database cleansing, your marketing efforts could vanish into a void.

Could You Have a “Dirty” List?

A “dirty” list is a dataset that contains a high proportion of bad or irrelevant data.

Unfortunately, this is likely to be a common problem – it’s possible for more than half of your database to lose its value within a year.

With your B2B lists, the following types of bad information will be especially prevalent:

Corrupt Data – caused by typos, incorrect entries, misspellings and duplicates.
Fake, Malicious or Spam Entries – often caused by bots.
Outdated Information – people change their jobs, addresses and phone numbers more often than you think; a key contact for a promising lead may well have moved on to a different role.
Inactive Subscribers – includes unmonitored email accounts and contacts showing low engagement with your campaigns.
Ignored Opt-Out Requests – leaving contacts in your B2B lists when they have requested removal.

Remember that poor database cleansing can afflict the most successful of businesses, sometimes more so. If sales are growing with cash rolling in, it’s easy for you to overlook the underlying mechanics driving that success. Tasks such as a data cleansing project can drop down on the list of priorities, storing up problems for the future.

Why does Bad Data Matter?

Marketing with bad data can be more costly than you think.

First of all, there are direct costs to your business. An email marketing provider (EMP) will typically charge on a per email basis. So every email you send to an invalid address is a deadweight cost.

Your EMP may also penalize you for repeatedly high bounce rates. In a worst-case scenario, this could halt your entire email marketing campaign.

Similarly, email service providers could blacklist you with a low sender reputation – especially if you incur a high percentage of spam complaints.

Bear in mind that the industry benchmark for such complaints is as low as 0.1%, so it doesn’t take much to get you noticed. Failure to remain below this threshold may prompt email service providers to direct all of your email traffic to the spam folder – even when delivered to engaged subscribers.

What is the number one cause of spam complaints? Repeated delivery of emails to disengaged subscribers. Inactive data is risky also – old email addresses can be repurposed as “spam traps” designed to ensnare mass spammers.

Second, bad data can ruin the design of your marketing campaign. Composing content around completely the wrong priorities – or for people you can’t sell to – means you are effectively marketing to ghosts.

A bad dataset can also make the interpretation of your marketing metrics more difficult. For instance, if you struggle with a low engagement score, you wouldn’t know if this is because you are marketing the right message to the wrong people, or the wrong message to the right people.

Finally, bad data could mean that you miss out on connections with genuine clients. For instance, failure to correct a mistyped email address could result in eager prospects never hearing your marketing message.

Cleaning your B2B Lists

There are three key steps that you need to take in order to keep your B2B lists as clean as they can be:

– Enforcing point of entry protocols.
– Monitoring email campaign metrics.
– Regular database cleansing.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Point of Entry Protocols refers to measures that will block bad data from populating your B2B lists.

The number one rule in this regard is to build your B2B lists solely on an opt-in basis.
In fact, unless you have a contact’s explicit permission, you should never include their email address in your campaign. This includes a lead already connected to you in some other way, e.g. a follower on social media.

Second, you want to make sure that your landing pages and opt-in forms are designed to attract only genuinely committed subscribers. For example, use double opt-in to help filter out spam bots.

Third, data validation will correct or remove invalid entries. This can be done manually for smaller lists, but larger datasets will probably require a validation service or data scrubber. This can filter out spam traps, generic email addresses, invalid addresses, etc. in bulk.

Monitoring your Campaign Metrics will help you to ensure that only engaged contacts remain in your B2B lists.

Here are the most obvious, telltale signs that your database is afflicted by bad data:

High Bounce Rates – your emails are returned undelivered.
Low Engagement – e.g. poor opening and click-through rates.
High Rates of Deletion that are sending your emails straight to the trash.
Spam Classification – probably the most obvious sign of rejection!
Poor Conversion Rates.

Any email campaign showing several of these traits together almost certainly means you are overdue for a data cleansing project.

Hard bounces should be fixed or removed at the earliest opportunity. Instigate a process to ensure that opt-out requests are addressed promptly.

With other metrics such as engagement, consider segmenting your subscribers based on their rates of engagement. As time goes on, you can expose the most engaged leads to regular marketing material. For those showing lesser rates of engagement, you can reduce the frequency while orienting your content towards renewing their interest.

If there are no signs of improvement after a set period of time, you can run an explicit re-engagement campaign, asking disengaged subscribers to reaffirm their inclusion. Should there still be no response, it’s time to remove the contact.

Finally, Regular Database Cleansing will ensure your information remains accurate and up to date. For larger datasets, a data cleansing service can assist you.

There is no ideal frequency for undertaking this exercise. Instead, your campaign metrics should be your guide: the sooner that bounce rates or deletions begin to rise, the sooner you are likely to need some database cleansing.

Cleansing your B2B lists should be like nurturing a garden. Watering, weeding and planting will produce a pristine lawn or the prettiest flowers. But let it slip, and you can soon find yourself in a jungle.

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