Every year, marketing email lists churn at a rate of 25-30 percent. Despite this fact, many marketing lists are still full of zombie contacts—those leads that appear to be alive because you just keep sending messages to them. Zombie contacts are a plague on your contacts database because they affect the overall health of your marketing efforts.
When you send emails to zombie contacts, your deliverability rates go down while your spam reports and bounce rates go up. But how can you save your list? Well, here are four ways to prepare for a zombie contacts apocalypse:
The best way to prevent zombie contacts is to make sure the contacts entering your database don’t turn. By creating segmented lists, you ensure individuals are receiving messages most relevant to them. You don’t want to send an email about dog food to a cat owner. And because segmentation also applies to web content, you don’t want to a website visitor who’s a vice president to see a message targeting managers.
Proper segmentation maintains your contacts’ health by preventing an infection of irrelevant information. When they only receive the specific information they need, you’re saving contacts from becoming zombies who ignore every message—even the relevant ones—because most aren’t for them.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, contacts start to turn. To stop the spread of the irrelevant information infection, create new offers designed specifically for people on your list who are at risk of churning. And be upfront about it. Identify that you know the contact hasn’t engaged with your brand when you send them the new offer. A little extra attention goes a long way toward saving a contact.
Even with segmented lists and new offers, you can still have zombie contacts in your database. Your next step is to clean your list. Services like Data.com can be used to clean contacts in your database completely so you have the proper business intelligence behind your segmentation. And if an email address is either incorrectly input or simply out-of-date because a contact left the company, an email validation service can help you determine which contacts are still alive and which ones are really zombies.
Finally, when all else fails, it’s time to purge the zombies. If you can’t re-engage a lead or verify the contact information, take a look at which contacts haven’t engaged with your brand in over a year. Then purge them from your list. The only thing they are doing is lowering your open, click and conversion rates. This can be a hard call for someone who has built up a large list over time. But if you’re following inbound marketing best practices, you’ll have new contacts entering your database on a regular basis. Who knows, some zombie contacts might just come to your website then and spring back to life on their own.
photo credit: Through Painted Eyes
Dan Stasiewski is Technology Director at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan viaTwitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.