Email List Cleaning Tips

VoloMP “sat down” (over email) with Bryan Jenkins of Email Oversight to talk email list cleaning. This a great read for anyone super serious (or who isn’t but SHOULD be) about cleaning your email lists. At Volo we strongly encourage our clients to stay on top of list hygiene.

Interview with Email Oversight

What sets Email Oversight apart from other email hygiene services?

EO’s combination of both validation level scans (removing hard bounces) and threat assessment scans(removing traps, disposable emails, complainers, bots, etc) puts our service in a different category than traditional Verification ONLY and Hygiene ONLY vendors. Most offer just one or the other and some offer a bit of both, but no one is really doing both at an extremely high level like Email Oversight is.  Also our ability to connect via real time provides our clients with more accurate responses and less false positive returns.

How long has EO been in business?

3 years, but we’ve all been around data, email, and hygiene for more than 13 years.

Why did you open shop?

We felt there was a need for a single service that could include all things related to data services. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of services out there that offer the verification side of things to validate for hard bounces. And then there a few out there doing the hygiene level scans for traps and harmful emails, but no one was really doing both on a large scale. We had tested so many services and while each had their own strengths and weaknesses, the idea of using multiple vendors was time consuming. So the brain-trust here decided to offer a hybrid level service and come to market with it. The response from mailers has been amazing and it’s really helping their mailing practices.

 

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What’s the number one misconception mailers have about list cleaning services?

I’ve probably said this a few times over the years, but everyone just assumes all services are the same. If someone says they verify data for hard bounces, for example, then they assume everyone’s doing it the same way with the same results and it’s just about pricing and service time. That is very far off. Everyone’s service levels are different. Some companies have a hard time validating in real time where as others can do that but only with certain ISPs. There’s so many features and variables to review, you lose sight of finding the right fit for your needs.

Treat every company differently and ask what they do and how they do it. Test, Test, Test! That’s the best way to get your true value on any service.

Is there anything that continually surprises you about high-volume mailing?

I personally think the times of high volume mailing is starting to wear out and more mailers are getting into quality of mail vs quantity of mail. I see the trend starting with smaller data segments that mailers are cleaning which usually is an early indicator of a shift in mailing strategies. That’s not to say that high volume mail is dead by any means, b/c that’s not the case at all. But I just sort of see this shift in strategy when it comes to traditional approaches.

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 Are there different list cleaning strategies for different sending volumes? If so, what are they?

The only strategy you should have when it comes to cleaning your data is continual maintenance. I’ve talked about this a lot over the years, as well, but if you think you’re done cleaning after 1x using a vendor, you’re wrong. You’ve got to have a scheduled maintenance program on cleaning data regularly (monthly, quarterly, yearly etc) to follow the trends of changes with data as it ages. Data is dynamic, it’s not going to just stay the same after you’ve cleaned it. It’s important to reprocess active and production data to continue to protect yourself from delivery and reputation based issues.

On average, when a client scrubs a list what percentage is scrubbed away?

It all really depends on the age of the list and the quality of the source. But I would say on an average list within a year old it should roughly be between 10-15%. Older data and poor sources would always increase that number, of course especially for hard bounces.

What’s the general breakdown of what pollutes email lists in terms of honeypots/spam traps, defunct addresses and typos, percentage wise?

Again this would probably fluctuate depending on the age or quality of the data, but I would say your hard bounces/undeliverables would nearly always be the highest removals of your list if it’s aged. Then I would say it’s really a breakdown of quality and source when it comes to how many traps, disposable emails, mal-formed addresses, bots, complainers, etc there are. You can expect anywhere from 5-7% of your list to have some semblance of issues there on an average which higher chances on the poor quality sources to have more harmful elements found.

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How often should mailers be cleaning their lists?

As I mentioned above, re-cleaning or maintenance schedules are so important. If the data is of high quality – you can probably get away with re-cleaning every 45-60 days if not quarterly. But I always recommend a 30 day re-clean on active data sets (opens/clicks) just b/c that’s the ‘good’ data you’re likely mailing the most. It’s always best practice to protect your biggest investment that way.

What would you say is a good email response rate these days?

This is definitely a better question for those that still actively mail, and not ready for a cleaning vendor. We tend to look at data differently than mailers would. I’m concerned about the delivery and the reputation side of data while mailers would be more inclined to look at performance and ROI. It’s also not something that’s commonly discussed with cleaning vendors, either. So it’s hard for me to give an answer there.

What’s the biggest mistake or mistakes people make when growing their email lists?

The BIGGEST mistake is not cleaning the data or assuming it’s clean b/c it’s ‘live’ data. I have discussions with clients who just seem to assume that the data is so unique and so fresh from its sources that there’s no way it will have problems. They usually quickly change their tune upon testing it and seeing that there’s still a percentage (no matter how fresh/live a feed is) that is un-deliverable and of course harmful.

Trust the process b/c the best mailers are those that have great data practices and do their diligence with intense cleaning protocol.

 

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Any myths about list cleaning you care to clear up?

I eluded to it earlier, but just test as much as you can when shopping around for your vendor. I think people get lured in with pricing that looks too good to be true or service offerings that seem out of this world and realize that it’s just not working out for them.

Reputation and Results are the two most important things in our industry. If you can’t deliver what you say and don’t have a great track record of performance, it gets around fast. I can tell you that if you do your homework and test each service, it’s very easy to see who’s achieving the best end results across the various services out there. I would encourage any mailer (big or small) to just ask the right questions and test your vendors before making any plans for a proper list cleaning regiment.

Interested in trying Email Oversight or would like to compare with your current vendors? Reach out to Bryan@emailoversight.com and mention you saw this article on the VoloMP blog, for a free trial and see how the results perform for you.

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