I was standing on a train platform last night and overheard one half of a conversation that goes to show the importance of keeping your data maintained. The conversation centred on a customer who had signed up to receive emails in 2009 but had then opted out in 2010. The person I overheard was talking to a colleague explaining that the customer in question had earlier in the day received a marketing email four years after opting out and quite rightly had complained.
What wasn’t certain was whether the company in question were using a list they had purchased or if it was just an unfortunate error on their part. Either way they have a customer who has raised a complaint against them and would more than likely discuss their annoyance with their friends and colleagues.
All this is born out of a situation that in reality is easily managed. Data captured through email signup or opt in requests is highly valuable and should be treated with care and respect. It allows you to communicate with your customers advising them of offers and promotions to help drive sales and increase turnover and profit.
In reality managing or cleansing your data base is a simple task and should be made part of your weekly/monthly routine. Any un-subscribers should be regularly removed from the send list to avoid any potential problems and as a result allows you the opportunity to get the most from your email campaigns. If your database is managed by an agency or third party then you should ensure they send you a list of both new and unsubscribes each month for your own records and reference.
This also highlights problems that can be caused when you purchase lists from a provider and such lists should come with a health warning. Whilst the majority of companies that sell this type of data are reputable and would not intentionally sell old data there is no precise way of knowing how old the data is or even if the information on the list is relevant to your industry.
There is a strong possibility that you could be wasting your money not only on the cost of purchasing the data in the first place, but also that a percentage of your emails will never be opened and/or the recipients have long since opted out. Both of these scenarios mean your hard work, time and effort would be wasted and leave you susceptible to complaints.
One thing this overheard conversation has confirmed is the importance of both capturing and managing your own data. You should have an email / newsletter sign up prominently placed on your website and send out marketing / promotional emails at least once a month. When users un-subscribe (as they will from time to time) thank them for signing up in the first place, say you’re sorry their leaving , give them the option to identify why they are opting out and let them know they can sign back up at any time.
Have you purchased marketing list in the past? Did you experience any problems with them?