If you work in marketing or sales, you’ve dealt with database issues. We all know what it’s like to have a database that’s missing names, email addresses, phone numbers or information that’s of any value for segmentation and analysis. When you’re staring at customer data with a bunch of holes, it often turns into a blame game among sales, marketing and maybe even IT over who isn’t using the CRM correctly and who is responsible for the terrifying task of cleaning up the data.
Or maybe you’ve faced another scenario: You send a marketing email to a list you’ve had for a while and the bounce rate is so high, your ISP has actually banned you from sending email ever again. (Okay, that’s an extreme situation, but it happens.)
Fear not, inbound marketers. There are solutions to your database woes. Read on for five common database issues and how to fix them.
Maybe in the past, you relied heavily on direct mail—postcards, catalogs, etc.—to reach your customers. Because of the cost of doing so, or because you want to take a multi-channel approach, you want to start sending emails. However, if the majority of your contact records are missing email addresses, what do you do?
The Solution: There are many, many ways you can start to grow your email list organically over time. Utilizing as many touch-points as possible to collect email addresses will help you build your list on a go-forward basis, but what about all of those existing contacts you’ve spent years collecting? Consider talking to an Email Append provider. Pick a good one, because they will be able to talk you through how to properly onboard your new data. You can also trust that the new email addresses you acquire are current, valid and permissioned email addresses.
Email providers like Gmail track the number of spam traps or spam complaints a mass email sender has been hit with. If too many are attributed to your sender IP address, your messages are more likely to go to the spam folder or be blocked altogether.
The Solution: There are several things you can do. First, email your list regularly (once or twice a month) so uninterested parties are given plenty of opportunities to opt out. Second, make sure you’re sending the most relevant messages. Segment your list well and know your buyer personas. Third, have your email list cleaned by a reputable Email Validation provider, who can identify spam traps and likely “complainers” and suppress them from your list.
Did you know that the average churn rate on email addresses is 30 percent annually? That’s a lot of email addresses that change every year. And “invalid” can mean a lot of things—the email address could be fake, contain typos, has been deleted or it could have simply been abandoned, so it might seem valid, but no one is actually checking it.
The Solution: Again, make sure you are sending email on a regular basis. Your email client will likely manage the bounced emails for you. If you haven’t mailed to your list in awhile, or if you’re starting with a new email client, have your list validated by a reputable provider. The better validation providers also offer Email Correction, which can help fix misspellings or syntax errors, and an Email Change of Address (ECOA) service that can help you deal with those abandoned mailboxes.
What are you going to do, segment them based on Gmail vs Yahoo! Mail? (In some circles, that might be considered enough information…) How can you deliver targeted, relevant messages if you don’t know anything about the people behind those email addresses?
The Solution: Start to ask smarter questions on your web forms. If you use HubSpot or something similar, you can even use Smart Forms or progressive profiling, so you can continue to gather information from leads throughout the nurturing process without making them complete the same form fields repeatedly. There are also email data companies that can attach demographics and other information to an email address, helping you fill out your customer profiles and enabling better segmentation and targeting.
This isn’t a database issue per se, but is the result of a poor marketing database. Sender reputation is a measure of the extent to which you follow the standards established by Internet service providers. If you’re consistently bouncing, sending email to spam traps or getting flagged as spam, your sender reputation will suffer and you’ll be less likely to make it to the inbox of your intended recipients.
The Solution: The best way to maintain a good sender reputation is to follow the solutions already outlined. Keep a clean and current email database, segment your list well and send targeted email messages on a regular basis.
Have you faced database issues before? How have you overcome those hurdles? Leave us a comment below!
Photo Credit: a_sorense
With a decade of marketing experience, Meghan Sullivan is a Senior Consultant at Kuno Creative and is passionate about developing and executing inbound marketing strategies for her clients. When sheís not doing that, sheís probably curled up on the couchwith her dog and iPad, or exploring Clevelandís incredible food scene. Connect with Meghan on Twitter or LinkedIn.