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Ken Magill

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What I Mean By Ensuring Email Data Quality

By Ken Magill
Some 52 percent of marketers in a recent Campaigner survey said improving click-through rates and email interaction was their No. 1 priority in 2015.
This is compared to 13.68 percent who said improving data collection and management was their No. 1 priority, according to the email service provider.
The survey had 103 respondents so it’s unclear how representative it is, but if we consider it in relative rather than absolute terms it’s probably pretty darn close to on target.
While improving clicks and “email interaction” is an understandable goal, doesn’t it stand to reason that improving data collection and management would go a long way toward accomplishing it?
Too often, discussions in email-marketing circles about lifting click rates and other so-called engagement metrics jump directly to removing inactive subscribers from the marketer’s list—a highly risky proposition as far as I’m concerned.
Lately, I have been asserting that data quality at the point of address collection should be email marketers’ No. 1 priority.
However, it has occurred to me I haven’t really spelled out what I mean by ensuring data quality at the point of address acquisition. 
By my definition, ensuring data quality at the point of address acquisition is taking steps to ensure subscribers willingly provide accurate email addresses at which they expect to receive promotions and/or information they think they will probably find valuable enough to tolerate the marketers’ messages arriving on a regular basis.
Notice I didn’t say “making sure subscribers really want to hear from you.” That’s a phrase used commonly by anti-spammers who have no clue how marketing actually works. Few “want” to hear from the vast majority of marketers, even though they may find the messages of value.
If my premise stands, then the topic is vast. There are countless conceivable ways to address it. Don’t buy email lists is one. Consider employing the services of a data-services firm to validate incoming addresses is another.
Sending confirmation emails to new subscribers and deploying welcome massages are ways to help ensure data quality.
Setting new subscribers’ expectations will also help ensure data-quality.
On the other hand, prechecking permission boxes—now illegal in Canada—during the online checkout process or pressuring people to hand over their email addresses are surefire ways to assure a lack of data quality.
Setting list-volume goals for email marketing managers and tying their compensation to them is another way to ensure a lack of data quality.
Pressuring retail sales associates to collect email addresses is another way to ensure a lack of data quality.
My point is that when marketers say raising clicks is their No. 1 priority by far over improving data collection, I suspect they are in actuality saying they plan to take steps—such as culling their file—that they may not have had to take if only they had been more careful up front.
If marketers focus on being more methodical in the way they build their email lists, common sense says an increase in key performance metrics such as conversion rates will naturally result.
As always, I welcome reader input.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Michael
Date: 2014-12-17 14:30:56
Subject: Canada

You mentioned one of the new restrictions imposed by CASL. Retailers will start paying more attention to the new restrictions in Canada once a couple of them get fined.
Posted by: Steve Mintz
Date: 2014-12-17 07:14:02
Subject: Fine post!

Thanks Ken. Very nice post. Right on the money. And you did it without any snarky comments. Heck you did not even make a back-handed remark at Canada when mentioning the pre-checked boxes. Are you maturing? Keeping the Christmas spirit? Brain been taken over by Dudley Do-rite? Maybe not as entertaining as it usually is, but informative as usual. Thanks as always for your insight. Steve