We all use the catchphrase “spring cleaning,” but usually we’re talking about doing it around the house: hauling boxes of junk out of the basement, re-organizing the garage, power-washing porches, and raking the winter detritus from the yard to make way for summer plants and flowers. But it’s a seasonal project that’s appropriate for businesses too, giving an excuse to take up the housekeeping tasks everyone has intended to do for months.
When cleaning time comes around, email databases are great candidates for de-cluttering, scrubbing, vacuuming, and then polishing to a fine sheen. And doing these tasks diligently gets the list looking its best with plenty of time to spare before the all-important fall and pre-holiday marketing initiatives.
A Time for De-cluttering
Even though cleaning an email list is about more than de-cluttering, in most cases it’s a perfect first step. The task often takes the form of purging duplicate email addresses that seem to be dragging down nearly every database’s performance. A sophisticated de-duping process will also catch email addresses containing typos, bad characters, and misspellings that are not always obvious with the usual surface sweep.
Now Get Out the Ajax
After de-cluttering, there’s usually some heavy duty scouring and cleansing to do. This is where the elbow grease comes in, to scrub out and throw away email addresses that include known squealers and screamers, emails with bad MX records, and EMPS (DMA’s “do not email”) suppressions that shouldn’t be messaged.
When Only a Vacuum Will Do
Now, get out the heavy-duty vacuum cleaner to dig deep and suck out incomplete and/or uncorrectable email addresses, bogus and malicious addresses, and possible spam traps and honeypot addresses that will cause problems with your reputation, the ISPs, and your ESP or in-house messaging department.
If your list is dirty or contaminated, ISPs won’t just block or bounce the one problematic email. They’ll end up blocking your entire campaign or, worse yet, blacklist you from being able to get future email campaigns through! This situation has happened to many of our current clients prior to their coming on board with FreshAddress and any serious marketer will attest to the fact that the weekly cost of being blacklisted can easily run in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
Finally, think of doing a little polishing, repair, and refurbishing. Maybe some of the messy email addresses have typos, missing characters, or bad formatting that can be fixed up to be as good as new.
When Only a Professional Will Do
Homeowners all know that there are times when do-it-yourself is not going to provide the best result, and they call in professionals to tackle their heavy-duty projects. Leave it to cleaning experts to handle the most dangerous and toxic parts of your list in a cost-effective manner, performing analyses and corrections that your internal team neither has the expertise nor time to do.
Just like your home, your email database is one of the most valuable assets you own, and it’s worth doing the work to keep it in shape. And because many people lack the time, resources, or expertise to drag out the extension ladders and clean the gutters, re-caulk the windows, or exterminate, you should call in professionals to tackle the dirty jobs. Your customer database will sparkle—and so will your marketing programs!