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Life’s too short for old data – stay current and stay engaged

How many times have you heard someone talking about life being too short and how we should live for today? All too often I’m sure! Quite simply, the same could be said about your data. I had an interesting conversation recently with a number of clients about historical data and why they, or their colleagues, find it so hard to ‘let go’ of data that has been built up over a number of years.

In their recent blogs, Jack and Claire told you about dealing with unsubscribes and bounces, what they mean and how you can use them to help clean up your data. In the majority of cases, data ages extremely quickly and a reluctance within organisations to ditch old and inactive data is an obstacle which I’m sure we’ve all been faced with. Changing this mind-set with management is often difficult, but with the right approach and careful consideration of your subscriber base, you can put together a plan of action that will attain stronger and more relevant results from your email campaigns.

Why would we want to actively remove old contacts?

Firstly, it’s important to stress that historical data and old contacts aren’t a bad thing if they’re still interacting with your emails. However, think about your own life and how numerous aspects change year on year. If you enjoyed going to a work or industry-based conference two years ago, you may no longer be interested and the information you supplied then may also be long out of date. You may have changed jobs or simply be working in a different industry. Not many people will proactively inform you of these changes – some may just delete your emails until such time that they make the effort to unsubscribe.

Taking this a step further, as years go by and as people stop interacting with your communications, others will be coming to points in their lives where they will engage. For example, a home improvement show might be trying to attract all their previous attendees based on data collected over past exhibitions. However, these contacts may no longer be engaging with your emails as they have finished their projects and are no longer interested. On the flip side, there will be young couples every year who join the housing market that potentially would be interested by such a show. Getting hung up on sending to your large list of contacts of which a proportion aren’t even engaging is only going to restrict you from tapping into the ‘new blood’!

You’re right, life’s too short”¦ but where do we begin our clean-up?

  • Plan out a re-activation campaign – use Filters in MessageFocus to send this campaign to those in your data that haven’t opened a campaign of yours in the last 6 months. You could even automate this process using the Recurring Campaigns feature to schedule automatic launches on a daily or weekly basis to contacts in your data that haven’t opened in the last 6 months. Be honest by asking them if they want to keep receiving your emails and remind them of what they’re missing out on. However, do make it really easy and ask them to unsubscribe if they’re not interested in receiving your emails anymore. As Claire explained in her blog, unsubscribes are part of a natural cycle and encouraging users to make a decision either way isn’t going to be detrimental to your future efforts. Ultimately, by following this process, you’re going to have create a smaller but more targeted list of recipients.
  • Use a Preference Centre – this is ideal if you have multiple brands or newsletters, allowing recipients to choose what newsletters they do want to receive, rather than a hard unsubscribe across all your mailings. This would at least allow any re-engaged contacts to set their preferences and hopefully keep them interacting with your future campaigns as they will be receiving only what they are interested in.
  • Set a sensible timeframe for contacts you consider ‘active’ – even with a re-activation campaign, there are bound to be some contacts that never re-engage and it’s these people that most people just can’t bring themselves to ‘let go’ of. You can use Filters again to find contacts that haven’t opened any campaigns within, for example, 12 months to then remove them from your regular mailing list. You don’t have to suppress these people, but there is no point including them on regular mailings if they’re not engaging – and even if they want to receive your mailings, you would hope that they open at least one campaign within a 12 month period!

Is there more we could be doing with our data?

Every situation is different and the suggestions above will hopefully get you thinking about putting a plan in place to tidy up your data, keeping it fresh and current, so that you’re hitting highly engaged recipients. Building a list of data is easy”¦ but building an engaged list of data is a whole different challenge which means proactively cleaning it at the same time as adding to it and working to retain existing subscriber’s attention.

Getting hung up on your old data just because it means you can put an email in the inbox of lots of people is false economy if only half of them are actually opening”¦ Those attempted emails could be better put towards engaging with your new users who want to hear from you!

Why not speak to your Account Manager about your requirements and how you can start to put a plan in place to clean your data up?

Till the next time…