Jessica Lorenz

Email Data Hygiene: When you know it’s time to break up

October 10th, 2014

I still get emails to the email address I created in middle school. This was back when having cutsie screen names was awesome, DSL was the latest and selecting your Top 8 on MySpace was the most stressful part of the week.

Although I haven’t sent or opened an email in that account for probably 10 years, the emails still come through.

It had been a while since I had actually gone to that inbox, though I needed to reset my password before I was even able to scroll through the pages upon pages of unread mail. Not one of them was a personal email. As I kept going through pages years back, I noticed that they’re all marketing emails – often from the same few companies.

I have not engaged after nearly a decade of sends. I have not read a single subject line. I have not opened any emails. I have not clicked any calls-to-action. Yet these companies keep sending.

How is marketing to that email address helping the marketers’ campaigns (other than contributing to list bloat)?


The importance of list hygiene

At Email Summit 2014 in Las Vegas, Laura Mihai, Email Marketing Specialist, 3M Canada, spoke on the integration of list cleansing as a regular element of its email marketing campaigns.

Laura opened her session by reflecting on a time when deliverability rates started to affect campaigns.

“We really wanted to focus on eliminating those who don’t engage with our communications,” explained Laura. The team at 3M Canada had the idea of running a campaign with the incentive of a contest to stay on the list and update contact information.

Using this campaign, the team trimmed their list by an impressive 64%. Now, they can be in touch with people who want to engage with them.

Following the initial list cleanse campaign, Laura and her team perform a yearly manual list cleanse.

If the companies emailing middle school Jessica had invested in an annual list cleanse, I would have maybe 20 emails in my inbox, instead of around 2,000.

Chances are it will probably be another five to 10 years until I try to get access to my old email account (if I ever try again). But I know, if I do go back to the virtual world of my middle school self, there will be thousands of new emails there just sitting, waiting for a click that will never come.

Watch the video clip below to learn why Laura and her team executed this campaign, and view the full video replay to see the long-term results of having a consistent hygiene schedule.


You might also like

Email Summit 2015 in Las Vegas, NV (Feb. 23-26, 2015)

List Cleanup: How 3M Canada increased open rates by 160% (free full-length session) [MarketingSherpa video archive]

Email Marketing: Nonprofit cleans lists and lifts open rate 225% [MarketingSherpa case study]

Email Deliverability: 9 lessons about Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation [More from the blogs]

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , , , , ,

  1. Cynthia Nagle
    October 16th, 2014 at 17:57 | #1

    Good article. Way too many companies ignore this basic rule of effective marketing: periodically cleaning your list to ensure good deliverability rates. I too have hundreds of emails from lax marketers in email accounts I no longer use. What a waste.

    NOTE: Two corrections are needed in this post (the first is a major gaffe, the second minor):

    1) “We really wanted to focus on eliminating those who engage with our communications” should clearly be “…those who don’t engage…”

    2) “Now, they can be in touch with people who want engage with them.” is missing the word “to” where that extra space is.

  2. Kayla Cobb
    Kayla Cobb
    October 17th, 2014 at 07:44 | #2

    Hey Cynthia,

    Thank you for your comment. I completely agree that too many companies wait too long to clean their lists. Also, thank you for pointing out those edits. Those were corrected first thing this morning. Thank you for being a devoted reader of MarketingSherpa!

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