In an effort to get a blog post out yesterday before yet another doctor’s appointment I did not do nearly enough research on the company I mentioned selling list cleansing data. As Al correctly pointed out in the comments they are currently listed on the SBL. And when I actually did the research I should have done it was clear this company has a long term history of sending unsolicited email.
Poor research and a quickly written blog post led to me endorsing a company that I absolutely shouldn’t have. And I do apologize for that.
With all that being said, Justin had a great question in the comments of yesterday’s post about data cleansing.
Isn’t this contrary to the good habits we are always preaching? If we send *email people want* to an engaged, opted-in group of people who want our mail, why would there ever be a need to clean our lists?
Yes, a lot of list cleaning services are used to take non-permissioned lists and turn them into lists that don’t cause delivery problems. But there are other reasons to clean lists and even clean permission lists.
I fully believe that mail should be sent to people who ask for the mail. I strongly believe the recipient should have some measure of control over what advertising and commercial email they receive. I also believe the recipient is the final arbiter of whether a mail is wanted or unwanted. I believe a legitimate sender must to respect the recipient’s time and attention.
With those principles clearly stated, when might list cleaning be an appropriate process? List remediation is the big one.
We’re hitting the point where some email lists or customer databases with email addresses have been around for almost a decade. There’s a lot of cruft that can accumulate in a database in 10 years. There are going to be addresses with no audit trail. Even newer databases can have a lot of entries without full audit trails.
Some databases have addresses that aren’t mailed regularly. I’ve certainly had clients that would segment enough that some addresses wouldn’t be mailed more than once or twice a year. These types of databases aren’t always kept up as well as we might hope or like.
For these databases, a list cleaning process is good and even necessary. Bad addresses accumulate on lists. One of the things I do with clients is help them separate out good addresses from bad addresses. But each case is unique and requires individualized treatment. Sure, you can run a list against a database of 300 million addresses and remove some bad ones, the ones that might get you into delivery trouble. But not all bad marketing creates delivery problems. Sometimes bad marketing is just bad. Mail gets into the inbox, sure. The source or the content isn’t blocked. But I think marketers can do more than just get mail into the inbox.
Data cleansing is not just about removing spam traps and bouncing addresses. Data cleansing should be about identifying those people who are going to buy from you. And not everyone who was interested in your product a few years ago is going to be interested in your product now. People change, their wants and needs change. They are not static, but rather fluid. Just removing problem addresses isn’t going to find those customers as effectively as searching for the good addresses in your list.