November 23, 2022

Customer Data Management and Marketing Emails

By: Mary Hiers

Customer data management begins with accurate customer data. Managing data that is incorrect, outdated, or unauthorized is a wasted effort.

The only kind of customer data worth managing is clean data. Clean data is accurate and placed correctly in your database. 

For most companies, customer data for marketing emails is a major business asset. The less accurate it is, the less successful your email marketing efforts will be. Here’s how to put customer data management to work to improve your email marketing.

How Bad Customer Data Management Causes Harm

Using bad data for your marketing emails is like using dirty oil in your car. When motor oil is old, non-viscous, and dirty, it can actually make your engine wear out faster, leaving you stranded. Even before that, however, your gas mileage will suffer, and your engine might overheat.

If you don’t practice routine customer data management, your email marketing will start to break down. Emails won’t get where they should. Or worse, they get labeled as spam. Marketing emails will lose their effectiveness, and marketing ROI will suffer. 

Not only can your business reputation suffer, but depending on where you operate, you could also run afoul of laws like the European GDPR or the U.S. CAN-SPAM law. Avoiding these problems means ensuring you use clean customer data.

Even Minor Customer Data Problems Can Annoy

Women who worked in engineering and technology before the age of email can attest to the amount of mail they received addressed to “Mr.” ____ _____. And most people have had the minor annoyance of a company misspelling their name on an email or journal subscription. This type of error may not be catastrophic, but it can portray a company as uncaring or cavalier toward accuracy.

Some businesses have accounts with one account holder but multiple users. For example, an eCommerce account may be in one person’s name, with additional customer names of the account holder’s spouse and children. 

Their emails can cause confusion when automations don’t manage customer data correctly. An email to the account holder about, say, a plane ticket purchased by a spouse or child may lead the customer to wonder if the ticket is in the correct name. Phone calls, emails, or online chats may be necessary to clear things up.

This kind of inadequate customer data management won’t get you in trouble with a CAN-SPAM violation, but it could be off-putting to the customer, eroding their trust in you. 

Benefits of Clean Customer Data Management

Marketing emails sent out based on clean customer data are more likely to land in the correct inbox. This is good for your business reputation not only with the customers who receive the emails but also with email service providers, which monitor “sender reputation” through the data they collect. 

Enjoying these benefits means you must first collect data in ways that support clean customer data management. Additionally, you must manage the data so it is used correctly by the automations that power your marketing emails. 

Collecting Clean Customer Data

More than half (53%) of businesses collect email data on their websites. Around 34% of businesses collect data for their email lists at in-person or virtual events. Some use e-receipts at the point of sale to collect email addresses, while others depend on the direct sales team to collect them.

The less direct the collection, the more likely it is for errors to creep in. For example, taking someone’s email address from a sign-up sheet at a meeting may mean misspelling their name if their penmanship is bad. Hence, verifying email addresses before they go into the database is essential.

The amount of data that companies collect for marketing purposes can also influence how clean the data is. Most organizations (58%) collect first names, last names, and email addresses. Some also collect phone numbers, postal addresses, product preferences, or preferred contact methods. 

While information beyond first name, last name, and email addresses may seem helpful, it is best not to collect it unless there is a specific use for it. Otherwise, it can introduce more errors. 

Customer Data Management for Data Cleanliness

Just like milk, customer data goes bad over time. Having a customer data management plan keeps the bad data to a minimum, so you’re less likely to annoy customers or have emails reported as spam. Here are some best practices.

  • Audit your email database regularly and delete inaccurate data.
  • Standardize email sign-up forms and minimize the data the forms request from customers.
  • Use a “double opt-in” process where the person signing up must verify their email address.
  • Know how your automations work and which data states trigger them.
  • Validate email contact data by checking
    • Email address syntax
    • Email domain validity
    • Deliverability (a test many ESPs offer that validates deliverability without actually sending an email)
    • Presence of disposable email addresses (Tools exist to identify these.)
    • Comparisons to known valid email addresses to suss out bots and fake accounts
  • Re-engage or remove inactive email addresses. Some hosts, like Gmail, automatically send emails to the spam folder after a certain number of messages go unopened by the recipient. Re-engagement is time-sensitive!
  • Segment your email campaigns for better engagement. This not only prevents annoying uninterested recipients but also improves open rates. 

Make Auditing Easier Going Forward

Standardizing how your company collects data for marketing emails is a simple way to prevent dirty data. Ask for only the information you have a defined use for, and have each enrollee verify their email address. 

Schedule regular times during the year to determine which recipients are inactive. For these email addresses, have a re-engagement plan ready to go, or delete the addresses altogether. Naturally, every company wants a big email list, but a smaller, more accurate email database can lead to better engagement and deliverability.

Customer Data Management Is Worthwhile

Marketing emails are highly effective and deliver great ROI. Don’t risk these great results with a lack of customer data management that reduces deliverability or gets your emails labeled as spam.

You are far better off collecting only the data you need than collecting extraneous data that can introduce errors. Keep it simple and you make customer data management easier. 

If you need advice on digital marketing including marketing emails, set up a call with our team. We know how to help our clients reach the right people at the right time so that they maximize their digital marketing ROI.

Having a strong digital marketing plan is necessary but not sufficient for success. The data you put into your marketing emails, for example, can take your efforts to the next level. We would love to show you how. 

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