B2B marketers continue to rely heavily on email for effective lead generation and growing revenues. According to results from the B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, email is the number one content distribution channel used by 93% of marketers. This means you need a “strong” in-house marketing database or house list, one with complete and accurate contact information.
Do you rely on purchased lists? Haven’t been properly maintaining your in-house list? If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions you’re wasting time and money, and increasing the risk of missing your 2017 revenue growth goals.
Let’s discuss 5 reasons why investing in your in-house Email list should be a resolution you keep in 2017.
1. Purchased or Rented Lists Underperform – There are two main reasons purchased lists underperform, inaccurate data and the person didn’t opt-in. B2B contact data changes faster than B2C. One study looked at self-reported business card changes and showed a B2B decay rate of 70.3% per year.
In addition to inaccurate data, purchased or rented lists often don’t contain the fields you need to properly segment. For example, the contact’s title or vertical segment may be missing. Inaccurate or missing data increases the likelihood your email, even if it does get delivered, will not be targeted to the right individuals.
Even more important, the individual you are emailing on a purchased or rented list didn’t opt-in to your emails and likely doesn’t know your company. They probably opted-in to someone’s list somewhere along the line, especially in the case of a rented association list, but you still run the risk of being seen as sending spam. Having a properly maintained in-house list will outperform a purchased list every time.
2. Better Metrics – Most B2B marketers are “graded” on how well their email campaigns perform. Common email metrics include deliverability, open rates, and click-through rates, never mind overall campaign lead generation results. However, if you are using purchased lists (see above) or not maintaining your in-house list, then your metrics will decline solely as a result of inaccurate data, no matter how great your offer, messaging, or design is. You’ll see more hard bounces, fewer opens, and more unsubscribes.
By using an accurate and complete in-house list, you’ll know your metrics reflect how well your email performs due to its contents without being skewed by undeliverable email addresses or contacts with the wrong job function.
3. Better Segmentation – As I briefly mentioned, purchased lists often don’t provide the segmentation data you need, whether it’s an individual’s vertical segment, job role, or other classification important for your B2B marketing campaigns. And your in-house list will quickly contain inaccurate data as well due to data decay. Back to the B2B data decay study, 65.8% reported a title and/or job function change and 29.6% changed companies.
Resolve to create a process for data maintenance. Your email offers can be more highly targeted and of direct interest to specific segments resulting in better lead generation and nurture.
4. Reduce Risk of Being Seen as Spam – In addition to recipients marking your email as spam, you also increase the likelihood that email service providers will begin blocking your emails. If your list, in-house or purchased, has inaccurate email addresses, the number of hard bounces will increase. And the more times you continue to use those same undeliverable email addresses, the more likely it is the recipient email server will blacklist your email server blocking all of your future emails. Pardot’s Email Deliverability Handbook is a worthwhile read if you’d like to learn more about maintaining your email reputation.
5. Automation Doesn’t Mean Autopilot – Email and marketing automation tools are sophisticated enough to recognize email bounces (email that can’t be delivered), but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Most tools will mark email addresses with hard bounces (those that can’t be delivered for permanent reasons such as not in the recipient server address list) and prevent future sends so that your email reputation doesn’t suffer. Soft bounces are temporary delivery failures such as a full mailbox. Most systems will flag emails that soft bounce and stop mailing after repeated delivery failures.
Many B2B marketers may think this is great, and while it is helpful for avoiding being blacklisted, recall the data decay rate mentioned earlier. Losing a contact versus finding a new one is analogous to keeping a customer (costs way less) versus getting a new one (costs way more). That hard or soft bounce is worth investigating. Maybe the company name changed (new email domains for all employees!), or the person took on a new role (more decision making authority!) or went to a new company (evangelist for a new opportunity!). A hard bounce could be the result of a simple typo in the email address. I’ve seen many typos, especially from conference registration lists, which were easily recognized and corrected.
If you’ve been building your list the right way, your contacts know your company and are interested. It will cost less to try to correct their data and reconnect with them than to get a new contact to replace them.
Be sure to correct or update bounced emails every six months as part of your list maintenance process.
No matter whether you’re using a full blown marketing automation or simple email marketing tool, you should resolve to make 2017 the year you finally have a strong in-house list to deliver more successful B2B email marketing results.