Maintaining a Healthy and Engaged Database in 2020
For email marketers, it is crucial to maintain a healthy database. This means establishing regular data hygiene processes and following email best practices to ensure maximum deliverability and prospect engagement with outbound marketing content.
The challenges every email marketer faces
Studies show that the typical B2B database decays, or becomes invalid, at a rate of over 2% per month, or a quarter or more of all prospect data annually, depending on your vertical. That’s a huge percentage! Unfortunately, this decay is largely the result of external events outside of your control, like corporate acquisitions or employee turnover, which result in previously valid contact information being retired – meaning your future marketing emails will fail to reach these prospects. Invalid contacts should be regularly identified and removed from your database.
Another challenge email marketers face is what is known as “graymail.” This occurs as email providers learn how to categorize email over time, based on the recipient’s engagement (or lack thereof) with a particular sender’s content. For example, a marketer may send and deliver ten emails to a prospect, but if none are opened, the system may decide to place future emails from that sender straight into the recipient’s spam or promotions folder, where they may never be seen again. This scenario highlights the impact recipient engagement plays in inbox placement, as well as the importance of not over-marketing to your prospects, to avoid losing their interest.
Failing to guard against these pitfalls can lead to negative impacts on your database quality and Email Sender Reputation Score over time; you may experience increased spam complaints, blacklistings or drops in deliverability and user engagement due to spam traps.
Steering clear of spam traps
Spam traps are email addresses that are monitored by an email service provider for the sole purpose of identifying (and penalizing) email senders with poor and data management and email practices. There are two types of spam traps that can make their way into your database.
Pristine spam traps: these are email addresses that have never been valid contact information. These are essentially planted addresses, used to identify and penalize marketers with poor list building practices (ie, purchased, unverified data or emails scraped from websites).
Recycled spam traps: these are email addresses that were valid at one point in time, but after being deactivated by a company, an email service provider may bring them back online to see if they are still being marketed to, despite lack of engagement or reply to the content. A good rule of thumb when attempting to identify potential recycled spam traps is to isolate prospects in your database that are over one year old and have also shown no engagement in 12 months or more.
Data hygiene and re-engagement campaigns
While regular data hygiene is always recommended for keeping your prospects’ contact information as up-to-date and complete as possible, a good re-engagement campaign targeting your “inactive” database can help you parse out prospective guests that are still viable in your dataset from those that should be removed from your CRM.
Normally, you wouldn’t want to reach out to inactive members of your database, but in this special case, and with a few special rules, it’s well worth it. When deciding who to reach out to for re-engagement, pick those who haven’t engaged with you in the last year or so, but be sure to set an upper limit to how far back you go. If people haven’t engaged with you for 18 months or two years, it may be time to just cut your losses with them.
An effective re-engagement campaign should do precisely what’s in the name: drive cold leads to re-engage with your content in some way – preferably through a link click that demonstrates that A) they are a real person and B) they are interested in the offer you’ve just sent, after a lengthy absence of activity.
A re-engagement campaign can be a one-off email or a short series of them. The ultimate goal is to bring as many of your valued prospects back into your “active” database as possible, without coming off as spammy in the eyes of the recipient (or potential spam traps). And finally, for the tough part: “saying goodbye to lost causes.”
See below for one idea of a re-engagement sequence.
The first email
Highlight a specific offer or new addition to your hotel. For example, if you just renovated your spa or expanded its offerings, it would be a good time for a campaign that highlights a spa deal. Keep in mind that, like any other campaign, these should be segmented and different for a business traveler or a leisure traveler. Segmentation is even more important in a sequence like this. So don’t just do one broad re-engagement campaign, instead segment and highlight what each segment of guests might be interested in. Here’s an example.
- Subject line: Check out our renovated property
- Preview text: You won’t believe our new look.
- Body Copy: Highlight what’s new and provide a compelling offer.
The next few emails
If the first email doesn’t connect with your guests, it’s worth trying again. For this and future emails in this sequence, it’s important to be direct and straightforward. Acknowledge that the guest has not been engaging with your emails, ideally in the subject line or preview text, and be sure to let them know that you don’t want to spam them or send them emails they don’t want.
Don’t be afraid to send an offer to incentive your guests into re-engaging. It could be a special deal for a weekend stay, or even better, something timely around an upcoming holiday or event. You could even set up a survey with an incentive (an amazon gift card?) and ask questions around what type of offers or other content those guests would like to see. This signals to your guests that you care about what they want and it can provide you with valuable insights.
- Subject line: Do you want to keep hearing from us?
- Preview text: We’d love to share the latest and greatest, but we don’t want to spam your inbox.
- Body Copy: Provide an exciting, special offer for the segment you’re sending to.
The Final Email
At some point, around email three or four in this sequence, it’s time to walk away. You can’t win them all and sometimes you have to cut and run. In this last email, make sure you provide a sense of urgency, but also let them know that if they don’t engage, you won’t keep emailing them. They’ll let you know if they still want to hear from you.
- Subject line: This is the last time you’ll hear from us (unless you act!)
- Preview text: We don’t want to spam your inbox, but we love sharing what’s new.
- Body Copy: Make it clear that you won’t spam them anymore, but you’d love for them to stay engaged. If you want to keep them, bring out the best offer you can, but be prepared to walk away from these contacts.
And there you have it. A simple plan for re-engaging your database.