The Importance of List Cleaning
Email list cleaning is vital for successful high-volume email marketing. So VoloMP contacted ImpressionWise to get their take on what large-volume mailers need to do keep their lists healthy and stealthy. Check out how you can get the most bang for your email list hygiene buck.
How long have you been in the affiliate marketing industry and how long have you been with ImpressionWise?
I’ve been in the affiliate marketing industry going on 12 years. We started Impressionwise about 7 years ago, in December of 2008.
How is list hygiene different for high-volume emailers (those who mail to a million more per day) as compared to someone who mails to 100K a month?
It’s really not that much different, outside of the amount of data you might need to clean. I think that’s the beauty of list hygiene because, it’s going to be the same process for higher volume mailers as it would be for lower volume mailers.
List hygiene doesn’t discriminate based on the size of your operation or your mailing capabilities. It focuses in on the data aspect which allows the hygiene process to eliminate threats within their email lists and enable the mailer to have a better delivery experience as well as prolonged usage of their mailing resources.
List Cleaning Verses Validation
Is there a difference between list “cleaning” vs. “validation”? If so, what is it?
Absolutely. There’s going to be a big difference between the two.
Cleaning or Hygiene is more the process of removing harmful elements from within your email marketing lists to avoid issues with anti-spam networks, sites and other dangerous third parties. This would be more in-line with trap and mole network removals as well as basic level complainers and litigators. It would also include basic maintenance like de-duplication, invalid formatting, syntax errors, and separation of your international and network protected emails.
Email validation is more based on verification elements like hard bounces and soft bounces. It looks at your list to take out those undeliverable emails.
Validation basically determines “Is this email going to deliver or not?” While hygiene is more a focus on “Is this email safe for me to send to, or not?”
What’s a common misconception about list hygiene?
The most common misconception about list hygiene is that you only have to clean your data once.
In other words, if you hire a list hygiene company to help you remove issues within your data set, once that process is complete, the client assumes it’s clean forever. That could not be further from the case. It’s important to understand that hygiene is dynamic. It’s always changing.
New trap networks are created daily, resources move around often, and the that movement and change need to be addressed. It’s all about educating the client based on their needs and results. We try to explain the importance of ‘Re-Cleaning’ and how that benefits mailers in the long run. Having a re-cleaning schedule that works for each mailer specific to their results is the best practice and is something we try to instill with all of our clients.
How has list cleaning changed over the last years?
List cleaning has evolved over time. When I first got into the industry it was a very archaic and simple database comparison method of cleaning. Mailers would give their lists to companies who hard large suppression files of ‘bad’ data and they would compare the lists to these suppressions and provide back a ‘clean’ set of data that did not match anything they had on file. It always left more questions for mailers like “Why were these records removed?” or “Can you explain what makes some of this data bad”. Yet, because it was just a comparison method, those companies could not really provide much detail. It was an all or nothing type of service.
We started Impressionwise with the goal of changing that perception of List Cleaning and Hygiene. We wanted to make hygiene more technology based and engage a targeted type of approach which would allow for more detailed removals and reporting. It also allowed us to eliminate the comparison method from being the main focal point of the scan. We were able to develop a real time scanning approach that allowed for a self-learning rule based platform to follow the changes that occurred over time and give mailers a better hygiene experience.
The process also gave mailers a much more detailed export and result set accompanied with reporting to overview the process thoroughly. It was something that had not been done before and really changed the landscape of what Data Hygiene is supposed to be.
What are some good questions to ask a list cleaning service, prior to hiring them?
It’s important to make sure they know what they are talking about and what they are doing, first and foremost. You can usually tell the difference between a company that has industry experience and, moreover, hygiene experience and a company that’s just trying to push a service without any knowledge.
You also want to know about the process, overall. Let them to walk you through what exactly they CAN do and what they CAN NOT do. I find that sometimes people assume that all hygiene companies are the same, and that can cause misconception about the services.
Lastly, ask your partners, clients, etc in the space you do business in about the vendor. Chances are if the hygiene company has a reputation (good or bad) it will be known and you can get honest feedback from those that worked with them before.
I always recommend new clients to ask around b/c we value our reputation within the industry and want to make sure that others can see the work we put into building such a known and respected Brand.
A lot of people try to take short-cuts when list cleaning to control costs. What are the potential dangers of that?
It happens all the time, unfortunately, and it’s very hard to explain why they shouldn’t. Everyone is on a budget of some kind, so they like to ‘pick and choose’ what they feel like working with first instead of looking at the overall picture. The biggest short cut or mistake you can make is selecting a small segment of your list to clean and then mailing it with the same resources you’re mailing uncleaned data on. I see this all the time.
If you’re mailing uncleaned data with cleaned data, you’re basically just throwing away all the work you did with your hygiene provider and contaminating the value. If you’re set on only cleaning small segments because of cost concerns, then just make sure you only mail the clean data on resources that do not touch uncleaned data. This will give you a better chance to see the value of list cleaning compared to data that’s not been cleaned on different resources. It’s a true comparison level test.
Another short-cut or suggestion people try and make is only to clean your openers and clickers files (active data) or just the opposite, and only send data that’s not active. Both are big mistakes. Include your O/C files with your non active files and vice versa. View the data set as one entity. Trying to segment pieces of that for the sake of costs only leads to data mismanagement issues which will basically jeopardize the work and money you spend towards the hygiene process.
That said, what are some smart ways to protect the bottom-line when verifying/scrubbing a list?
If you’re cautious to overspend or invest without knowing the full extent of the value that hygiene brings, I suggest testing in manageable yet smart segments. In other words, set aside resources that are ONLY being used for cleaned data and scale your volume. As you see the value that hygiene adds to your mailing venture, you can slowly incorporate more data to clean over time. The main thing to consider, always, is that you’re networks should be different for clean data vs uncleaned data. This is the most cost effective way to scale.
What’s one thing that sets ImpressionWise apart from other email hygiene companies?
I don’t know if it’s one thing in particular that sets Impressionwise apart from the other hygiene companies out there as it’s a combination of a few things.
Our on-demand scanning approach to list cleaning is certainly more thorough and more accurate than other methods of cleaning out there. We are able to provide much deeper and detailed reporting with our results, as well. But if I had to pick something that stands out more than just a service level or result, it’s our customer service. We make every effort to set the standard in customer service for all our clients.
We go above and beyond when it comes to the sales process, set up process, accounting process, and just general education with regards to our services. We take a lot of time trying to make companies understand that hygiene is not just a service, but an integral part of your mailing operation and working with us will hopefully make that as easy as possible. We take pride in what we do and I think that shows when a customer works with us.