Email Data Maintenance: Why & How to Do It?

Published by

An important and often overlooked aspect of email marketing is email data maintenance. It’s essential that you include different email data maintenance practices within your email marketing strategy to keep a clean and healthy list. In this blog post we will look at different opportunities for email data maintenance along each stage of the lifecycle of a recipient and the logic behind it all.

The Sign Up Process

Let’s assume you use a Maxemail sign up form on your website so people can sign up to your newsletter. We can start cleansing the email data here even before the data is used within a campaign by using a confirmation opt-in subscription method. This means that rather than add the user to the main mailing list straight away, we send them a confirmation email to make sure they want to subscribe.

Why is this necessary? Firstly to get rid of mistyped email addresses. If the user types the address incorrectly, the confirmation email will be sent to said incorrect address and as such the user won’t get the confirmation email and the incorrect address can never be added to the main mailing list. Secondly, it provides a new level of verification for automated form submission spam bots trying to submit email addresses into random forms.

How do you set this up?

  1. Create a Maxemail form that submits to a list called “Non confirmed opt-ins”. This form will be the main form you use to subscribe new users. This will gather the email address, and any other necessary profile data you need.
  2. Create a trigger email that is linked to the above form. This will be the “click here to confirm” confirmation email.
  3. Create a second confirmation form that can submit to your main mailing list.
  4. Grab the form handler url of this second form and on the end of that URL add: ?email_address=[recipient:EmailAddress]
  5. Add this url as your “click here to confirm” confirmation link in the triggered email. This will then, once clicked, add the user to your specified list.
  6. You can even add another trigger email to the confirmation form just to confirm to the recipient that they have been subscribed. This is optional.

If you’re a Maxemail user and would like a more detailed step by step walkthrough on creating a confirmation opt-in subscription method, please contact our support team who will be happy to assist you.

Email Data Cleansing

A useful service for email data cleansing is BriteVerify.

They offer email verification, you can upload from a list or from the cloud and it will process the list and offer some unique reporting on list validity. They even have an API, so with a couple of lines of code added to a sign up form you can actually verify email addresses on the fly! Doing a Google search for “email verification” reveals many cheaper alternatives to BriteVerify but most of them seem to lack the reporting, API and support features that BriteVerify offers.

Inactive Subscribers

Every good gardener knows that for a tree to flourish you need to trim back the deadwood. It is hard for some marketers to say goodbye to part of their list total. Especially in larger companies where politics is rife and people who may not necessarily understand the intricate ins and outs of email marketing make the decisions, but think of it this way. Why would you want to continue wasting your credits on people that don’t open your emails?

Besides it’s not really saying goodbye. You can still keep inactive subscribers and run a re-engagement campaign with a catchy title, a flash look and a nice discount just for them.

Read our recent blog post on what to do with inactive subscribers.

Why Do I Need to Do Email Data Maintenance?

Well it benefits you in many ways. Besides the obvious of saving email credits, it can actually boost your reputation with major email providers. Imagine your reputation like a credit rating. If you’re continually sending emails to people who never open them, to people who junk them, to addresses that have expired or don’t even exist, this can negatively affect your reputation and your deliverability as a result. Too many times we’ve seen companies that refuse to trim the fat in search of the highest list total and start to see poorer deliverability with email providers like Hotmail or Yahoo. Maybe you’ve seen this yourself with your own email marketing? There isn’t a quick cure, but take heed of my advice and you will start to see it turn around.

About Nick Everitt

Senior Campaign Executive at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP.

  • Maintaining something isn’t very exciting. It is far more exciting to make sweeping changes or implement major new strategies. However, I agree with you that the methodical day to day cultivation of data is so vitally important.

  • Chris Minett

    Double-opt-in is so important to keeping a good reputation. A bad email address is still going to be a bounce against your Customer Space, but it won’t happen in a big chunk when sending an email campaign. Many ISPs deliberately slow down their acceptance of emails when a lot of invalid addresses are attempted in a short period of time.

    Plus, you can show your potential new subscriber an example of the sort of content you send!