Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The measurable cost of using non-verified email lists

There is a temptation by marketers to mail repeatedly to a purchased list without updating it. An industry standard accepted figure is that data decays at approximately 40% per year. The fastest pieces of information to change are names, email addresses and contact phone numbers.

Consider 100,000 email addresses mailed each month for a year. Without verification this will not result in 1.2million emails delivered – more like 970,000 emails pinging into mail boxes.

In B2B there is a broad industry standard of 15% open rates on delivered email. This figure varies by type of industry, with pharmaceuticals and insurance being among the lowest.  Therefore non-email savvy marketers, or those reporting to non-email savvy directors, will have problems explaining why the website didn’t receive a huge uptake and the campaign hasn’t been as successful as planned. That 1.2 million top-line expectation will in fact be just over 145,000 opened emails.



A saving grace of throwing emails into an abyss is that it is cheap and easy to do it – relative to mailing costs for postal Direct Mail that is. Badly addressed DM will get thrown in the bin or returned to sender. (Let’s not consider damaged brand reputation costs here.) In a model looking at costs of mailing 100,000 postal addresses a marketer would waste just over £200,000 in mailing costs to out of date contacts. Allowing for reasonable assumptions about costs of data, creative and production, with collateral at a thrifty 10p per mailer will add a further £120,000 waste. The cost of the DM being returned to sender would be additional. This leaves in the region of £300,000 wasted on one inexpensive mailing campaign. Repeatedly mailing the same size email address list the same number of times, allowing for the significantly higher purchase price of email contacts and assuming similar creative costs but no print production will cost just 14p per email. Hard and soft bounces can be tracked, opens, forwards, opt-outs and spam reported… sounds great doesn’t it? But read on.

However tempting it is to email a decaying list, irritated recipients can make their complaints visible and public. You can find yourself spam-listed, with a poor sender rating. By hurling out hard bouncing emails over and over you could end up with a blackmarked IP, apologising to a furious IT team which is watching your company emails screeching to a halt. If you use a mailing provider you will almost certainly find yourself or your list off their service, even if your unsubscribes are being cleaned off automatically. Dealing with all this will take your time and give you headaches explaining it to the non-email savvy director who probably pressured you into doing it in the first place. You will have egg on your face and in the case of rejection by a mailing service, you’ll be looking for verified email addresses and having to begin your campaign all over again.

The easily measured direct costs of ineffective direct mail pale into insignificance next to such a visible bashing from all sides.

Stand firm, don’t be tempted to email old lists and dirty data. Be clean, be verified and be strong. It’s just better marketing.

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