6 Smarter Ways in Choosing an Email List Provider

A day in the life of a typical email marketer finds him or her having tons of things to balance on top of an endless list of decisions to make. One such crucial choice to decide on is picking out a suitable, reputable email list provider to source contacts from. This deceptively-simple decision is anything but straightforward. You have to factor in a lot of variables about the vendor, the products, and the marketing landscape (yes, that’s right – the big picture) before you make your choice.

We’ve already covered how to choose list vendors based on their merits in earlier blog entries. Today, we’ll take a look at some very important contact data quality trends that you should know when searching for providers and products in today’s email list marketplace. After all, no email marketing campaign is operating in a vacuum; what’s happening in the real world does affect your decisions.

The following six data quality facts are based on recent (2012) studies carried out by Experian QAS, Sirius Decisions, DemandGen, and other B2B marketing think-tanks. These insights should form part of your decision-making considerations when choosing a business mailing list provider.

Fact #1: Typical opt-in email databases need further verification.

Data from Sirius Decisions reveal that about 25% to 30% of records in an average contact database are “useless,” which translates to 3 out of 10 entries being potentially ticking time-bombs. To compound this issue, a TechTarget-commissioned study shows that 88% of individuals say they provide false information on opt-in or lead capture forms. All these point to an even greater need to look for list sellers that continuously verify and update information on the database products being offered.

Fact #2: Most businesses are doubtful about the quality of their own contact lists.

As much as 92% of companies surveyed by Experian QAS believe there’s something wrong with the contact databases they’re using, which means that only 8% view their lists as reliable. This is somewhat surprising as a separate study from Circle Research shows that between 71% to 74% of marketers make use of channels like email and direct mail which are extremely list-dependent formats.

Fact #3: A majority of firms blame bad contact data for poor campaign results.

According to the same Experian QAS study, about two-thirds of business organizations blame inaccurate contact data for unfavorable marketing campaign results. Sirius Decisions also notes that between 10% to 25% of marketing database errors are “crucial” in nature, adversely affecting segmentation and targeting practices. This holds a lot of serious implications, especially for email marketers looking to acquire email lists from third-party sources.

Fact #4: Email information is the primary data point for most marketing campaigns.

Again, Circle Research says that as much as 7 out of 10 B2B marketers believe email marketing is a critical channel. That’s why almost half (about 42%) of marketers say email information is the most important piece of contact data, according to an Experian QAS report. Such a significant demand for email information also increases the chances of poor database products from questionable suppliers flooding the list market.

Fact #5: Good email contact information is hard to find.

For various reasons, about 52% of companies think email contact information is very hard to authenticate, with multiple addresses referring to a single contact and contacts frequently changing email addresses. This is according to the above-cited Experian QAS study which also reveals that redundancies corrupt anywhere from 5% to 25% of records in a typical contact database.

Fact #6: Contact data has an expiry date.

Findings published by Sirius Decisions also reveal that data has an age limit. At most, only 10% of database records over three years or 36 months in storage can be of any use for campaigns – if at all. Furthermore, a typical B2B organization’s sales leads database doubles every 12 months which explains part of the database troubles that come with the passing of time.

Conclusion: The above trends paint a very daunting picture for anyone who’s about to embark on list acquisition from a vendor. But “difficult” isn’t the same as “impossible.” So, look for a contact lists seller that regularly update and constantly verify their database products and don’t forget the age-old line “quality over quantity.”