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Which Email Checker Should You Use If You Have a Data Capture Problem?

by Simon Spyer on Dec 3, 2015 7:30:00 AM

All Is Not Lost If You Have A Data Capture Issue

Which Email Checker Should You Use If You Have a Data Capture Problem?
All data has a cost but particularly wrong data. Collecting an incorrect piece of data at registration will be particularly costly: you may not deliver expected service at a critical point in the customer journey.

And you may waste your marketing money writing to an address or calling a customer that doesn’t exist.

It's normally best to fix these issues at source but this isn't always possible and you may already have collected data that needs fixing. Address lookups (PAF) are great and deal with postal addresses.
 
But what about email? Is there a similar solution and which one should you choose?

This blog focuses on what to do if you have concerns about your email addresses or are finding your list rejected by email service providers.

Remember The 8 Golden Rules Of Data Capture

Always start with these golden rules and ensure that you are capturing the right data - the data that you need and the right quality data:
 
  1. Collect the minimum viable data
  2. Never give free text options
  3. Don't forget that data gets old
  4. You need a powerful, clear value exchange
  5. Observed data is richer than claimed
  6. Validate in real-time
  7. Make it easy
  8. Show me you know me

What These Rules Mean For Your Email Marketing

There are three key implications for email addresses you collect and how you use them:

  • Only to email addresses that you have collected directly and which you have got explicit permission to contact.
  • At the point of data capture, consider a double opt-in (where your user has to click on an email to confirm their registration).
  • Actively manage your lists to ensure that you remove all registrations or customers where you have hard bounces

Sometimes however you may have inherited a customer file that meets at least two of these criteria but still presents issues.

The Risks Of Poor Email Address Quality Are Significant

Your first hint of an issue may come when you upload or connect your list to an email service provider (ESP), like Mailchimp. All reputable ESPs will screen your list for issue - in the case of Mailchimp, using Omnivore.

These will screen your lists against all data that the ESP holds for a particular email address to look for issues (like bounces) and engagement (like opens and clicks). If a significant proportion, often as low as 20%, of your list scores badly then you will start to receive warnings. 

If an issue is flagged and you choose to proceed then there is a significant risk that you will be blacklisted and may not be able to send email campaigns. It's difficult to re-build your reputation if you get to this stage.

ESPs have these checks in place to prevent abuse - both to protect their core business and the legitimate marketers who want to use email as a communication channel.  

Email Checkers

Email checkers are third party services that you pay to use.
 
In most cases you pay to upload your email list, receive a healthcheck report (much akin to the abuse prevention report used by ESPs) and to receive a cleansed copy of your list in return.

Which Should You Consider Using?

A Google search will reveal many potential suppliers.
 
To help you navigate the list we conducted a test using 300,000 email address with the several providers and this is what we found:
 
  • kickbox.io. Made a good impression with a clean, simple user interface and file import. An initial report was produced quickly and contained a Sendex score. The promise of a money back guarantee provided some reassurance from a service that hasn't been reviewed extensively online and may be quite new.
  • datavalidation.com. A major disappointment here. datavalidation.com appears to have a relationship or be endorsed by Mailchimp. First impressions were promising - we could upload of list easily and quickly received a topline report; the cost to process and cleanse our file returning a valudated list was the low (±£600). Then things went downhill: we proceeded but server issues meant that 26 hours later the file was still processing. Live chat online was friendly and fast but unable to offer a solution, lead time to resolve or compensation.
  • briteverify.com. Appeared a comprehensive, professional solution but was three times the price (±£1800) of the other services we evaluated. Briteverify requires you to sign up and pay for a report to be run before giving you an indication of how healthy your email list is. We ran a small test for 100 records and didn't find significant differences compared to the other services tested.
  • towerdata.com and leadspend.com (now part of Experian) appear credible, enterprise level solutions. In the case of Experian we were put off by the need to complete a form and wait for a sales rep to call.
  • quickmailverification.com also appeared credible but requires registration and its pricing policy was highly opaque.
Where possible we uploaded a small sample of 1000 records to see the high level reports that each service generated. These were broadly the same.
 
We ended up using kickbox.io and were very impressed with the results. Fast processing (under 1.5 hours for our file), a simple user-interface and the output was excellent in terms of format, scoring and detail provided. We then tested the output file with a Mailchimp campaign and had very high (98% plus) deliverability. 

A FINAL WORD

It's always best to ensure that you have clean data captured at source and the right marketing processes to regularly clean and manage your customer lists.

However, if things go awry or you inherit a less than perfect soliution, don't close your eyes and hope for the best. Email checkers do, by and large, provide a straightforward and cost-effective solution to ensure that your email marketing is responsible.
8 Data Questions Every Marketer Should Answer

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This post was written by Simon Spyer

Co-founder & Insight Partner at Conduit, professional insight-monger, dad, lover of all sport and Spurs.

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