Email Database Check List

Looking for an easy way to make more money from your existing buyer file?  Expand your marketable universe of email addresses.  Now is the time to make sure you haven’t missed an opportunity to communicate through this budget friendly and highly effective mode of marketing.

  1. Are all of your marketable email addresses making their way to your ESP?  There are several ways to be sure.  Compare the number of new buyers with email targetable addresses added to your marketing database with your growth in email addresses in your ESP for the same time period.  With the exception of aggregation differences, they should be close.  In addition, you can compare your email subscriber form submissions with the number of Welcome Emails sent for a given time period to make sure they match.

  2. Grow your email file quickly through Email Append: Do you capture the email addresses of all of your buyers?  If you are a retailer, chances are you do not.  Email append is a quick way to add email address when you have name and land address.  A free match rate report can tell you how many addresses a given vendor can find.  It is common to find 40-60% of the email addresses for a given file depending upon the source of names and the condition of your file. The process will typically include a permission pass email where your buyers will be given an opportunity to Opt-out if they do not wish to receive communication through this method. If you have a limited budget, you can target your best buyers by using a service that only appends to an optimized group of your customers.  The co-operative databases offer email append with optimization to identify those in market and most likely to purchase.  It’s ok to use more than one vendor!  Run a first pass append with one vendor and send the non-matches to a 2nd provider in order to acquire as many as possible.
  3. Maybe they changed their mind?  A lot happened in 2020.  Those who have previously not checked your Opt-in box on your order page may have changed their mind. Send a periodic check in to be sure you have their email preference accurately reflected.  Are you sure you don’t want to receive our emails?  These emails should contain a compelling reason and an incentive for sign-up (i.e. discount code or other special offer).

  4. It’s not all or nothing.  Review your Opt-in or Opt-out box placement on your website and the associated wording.  Do you have a global Opt-in?  Try offering the ability to Opt-in to various types of communications, such as special offers and “first to know” communications.

  5. Ensure communication to the Opt-outs.  If a customer doesn’t want to receive email, that doesn’t mean you can’t include them in your direct mail program.  Some companies are actively including these Opt-out segments into their catalog/direct mail program to ensure they receive some type of communication.  Segment your RFM to include a Yes/No flag indicating those who are in the email program vs. those who are not.  Measure the incremental lift over not mailing for these segments who are not in the email program.  The impact of mail on these segments can often be larger because they are not being “spoken to” any other way.

  6. Found email addresses you haven’t been marketing to? From time to time, marketers will find a glitch in their systems and identify a group that has been erroneously excluded from email communication for one reason or another (see #1 above).  If this is you, consider the following:

    • Many ESPs monitor the size of the email database.  Alarms go off if your database increases beyond a certain threshold in a short period of time.  There are ESPs that will not allow companies to add a large volume of new email addresses all at once for fear of how they were acquired, etc. Check with your provider to see if this will be an issue. If it is, add the newly found email addresses into your database a little at a time instead of in one big batch.  In addition, research other providers who will allow the deployment to new audiences.  This will allow you to simultaneously deploy to the full list of new additions with a second provider as you are building your file with your current vendor.  Realize the incremental revenue, sooner than later, while building your existing database with your current ESP.

    • Avoid a spike in your undeliverable rate with proactive email hygiene. Has too much time passed since when you first collected an email address and when you ultimately marketed to it? Email validation and correction can help improve ROI by removing invalid address, test to see if the address can accept mail, correct typos, misspellings and syntax errors.  Email addresses change.  ECOA (Email Change of Address) can help find new addresses for your existing buyers.  Periodically run ECOA on your undeliverables to see if better email address can be found.

    • For those who have added a larger quantity of addresses, it also may be prudent to check for spam traps and other damaging email addresses that can ruin your email reputation. 

This is not a onetime initiative.  Make this checklist part of the regular assessment of the health of your email marketing program.  Vary cadence of review based upon your acquisition growth speed.  If you are growing at a fast pace, re-assess more frequently (i.e. quarterly).  If you grow at a slower pace, wait until you have added critical mass to avoid minimum charges on the hygiene and append services.

Elisa Berger, Ph.D.

About Elisa Berger, Ph.D.

Elisa Berger, Ph.D is Principal and Executive Vice President, Database Marketing at Cross Country Computer (CCC). Elisa has been successfully helping database marketers achieve their ROI goals for nearly three decades. She earned her Ph.D. in Applied Research at Hofstra University.
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