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Enterprise Email Marketing: 5 Rules for Proper Data Cleansing

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No email address is permanent. People change jobs, switch Internet providers, or abandon their accounts due to continuous spam. Large enterprises have to stay ahead of these changes by regularly conducting data cleansing of their email lists to ensure a low rate of bounce backs and a high rate of email deliverability. A clean email list also improves your sender reputation with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), keeping you off their blacklists.

Companies frequently ask us about email best practices when handling big subscriber lists. Large organizations typically maintain frequently updated email lists containing hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers, which makes regular data hygiene crucial for enterprise email marketing success. Keeping your list in good health requires efficient email marketing technology and procedures.

Enterprise Email Marketing Data Hygiene Process - Single Entry Point
Data Hygiene for the Enterprise - Single Entry Point

Email best practices suggest that most procedures should be handled by your email marketing provider throughout your campaign. If you process duplicates, syntax or bounce errors manually, you’re already falling behind.

Five Rules for Success in Enterprise Email Marketing

  1. Remove duplicates and process incorrect addresses. Your list might attract new subscribers from a variety of sources including:
    1. Lead forms on your website
    2. List mergers with other divisions
    3. Forwards from your past viral email campaigns
    4. CRM acquired data
    5. Direct mail and catalogues
    6. Tradeshows & surveys
    Regardless of their origins, duplicate email addresses should be automatically removed and emails with incorrect syntax flagged. Rather than removing incorrect email addresses permanently, store them as inactive records. This approach allows marketers to access and correct them individually in future customer support inquires. This rule is especially useful in business-to-business (B2B) scenarios.
  2. Verify your list for domain validity through DNS lookups. If you are sending emails once a month or less frequently, we recommend running this data cleansing procedure before each email. You’ll be surprised how many domain names become invalid after one month. For these broadcast frequencies, schedule the DNS verification to run automatically at regular intervals so your next campaign will run with a clean email list giving you the best chance of solid email deliverability.
  3. Handle unsubscribe requests as soon as they’re received. In a multi-division organization, ensure that these requests are implemented company-wide.
  4. Process soft and hard bounces as they happen. Repeated soft bounces should be treated as hard bounces and removed from your active lists. Before converting them, allow three consecutive soft bounces—or even less if you want to play on the safe side. Hard bounces should be removed as they happen. Ignoring hard bounces is a quick way to destroy your reputation as a respectable email marketer. Contact the bounced recipient for an updated email address via phone or regular mail.
  5. Handle email replies and complaints individually. Regardless of how clear your instructions are on how to unsubscribe, or where to contact you, your recipients will push the 'Reply' button to ask you general questions, make unsubscribe requests that cannot be captured programmatically, or request customer support for completely unrelated reasons. Your email marketing technology should filter and process incoming replies based on your needs.

What is a Soft Bounce?
An email message that reaches the email server but gets returned, usually due to errors such as the size of the message or inbox capacity being reached. Email servers will attempt its delivery a few more times before giving up.

What is a Hard Bounce?
An email message that is returned to the sender having never reached the recipient, usually because the email address or the domain does not exist. No other attempts for delivery are made.

Single Entry Point offers fully managed enterprise email marketing services—hosted on enterprise-ready servers capable of handling millions of contacts. Each account is configured for 100% branded email marketing, deploys its own database, and uses a dedicated IP. Contact us to design an email marketing strategy that will align you with your vision.

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Mike LascutMike Lascut is Principal of Single Entry Point® Marketing, focusing on the search, email and analytics practice and leading the development of the Single Entry Point Email Marketing next generation product. Mike's professional career spans over twenty years, including twelve years of intelligent search and email marketing and over a decade and half of software architecture and development. When he's not pointing businesses in a smarter direction, Mike spends his time pointing his lens at wildlife. Connect with Mike on Linkedin, read his Nature Research Photography blog, or reach him via email or phone.