Deleting is More than Ok – It’s Key to Clean Data

I recently presented a story about my past success in winning an Eloqua Markie for ‘Metrics that Matter’ at a recent Atlanta Eloqua User Group. The success in the account came from moving beyond the simple volume of leads and anecdotal assumptions by aligning Sales, Brand and Product Marketing to showing the true value of our marketing programs. What really rocked the ‘Metrics that Matter’ world was our standardized reports that could be used to drive strategic insights to maximize our efforts.

shutterstock_322039955The group asked how to take basic steps to make ‘Metrics that Matter’ happen, realizing not everyone is ready to win a Markie. A great deal of work goes into a successful program, especially one that wins a Markie, so there is no single answer. I was honest about the time required, intense process development, training and technology requirements that went into aligning all parties involved to make this account a success. However, the first step to a successful program and ultimately, having ‘Metrics that Matter’ means you need to have a clean database. That means taking the time clean (and delete) more than a few contacts to ensure your database current and compliant as part of any best practice.

What data to clean and delete?

Everyone gets nervous before they hit that ‘delete’ button. There are a few easy ways to purge the non-marketable contacts in your database.

  • Unsubscribes – If a contact is unsubscribed you won’t be able to reach them -its the law (CAN-SPAM Act). However, if you delete the contact and then they reengage, you are in the clear.
  • Bounce backs – Hard bounce backs are a quick-win as they are generally invalid emails that aren’t being delivered. Delete them – you don’t need them.
  • Test records – In my personal experience, I’ve deleted ~1K test records in a single sitting. Delete those records and create rules for yourself and others testing so that these can be removed regularly.
  • Inactive records – If a contact hasn’t engaged with you in a given time frame, it’s safe to say they can be removed from your database. Delete them, it’s just wishful thinking that they aren’t auto-routing your emails to trash.
  • Those not opted-in – In countries that require opt-ins or double opt-ins (ALWAYS best practice), if you have contacts that are not opted-in you can’t reach them. Delete them. Again, it’s the law. If they reengage, make sure your subscription program is compliant with their specific country, not just your country, to ensure compliance in all situations.

Cleaning the database is a big first step in achieving email best practice. Hand-in-hand with the database cleanup, another best practice would be creating agreed upon standardized field values so that you can showcase your effective reporting and demonstrate how you’ve achieved your business objectives. I’d go into more detail of why that’s important and how to tackle that slow-moving train, but standardization deserves it’s own post! Stay tuned and start deleting.

Author: Kathleen Hoehn @KathleenHoehn Marketing Automation Consultant, ANNUITAS