• Jeannette Fackler

Why it's Dangerous to Keep a Dirty Contact List



So you’ve got a contact list. Maybe you bought a list of “accurate” contact info, including email and snail mail addresses, phone numbers, etc., from an online service. Or maybe you worked hard to get it organically (which I can’t stress enough is the ONLY way to go). It’s essential to do an initial scrub for accuracy and then keep it updated on a weekly basis. Yes, it’s time consuming, but there’s no getting around it if you don’t want to waste your time and money on your email and direct marketing campaigns. Here’s why.

Returns and Undeliverables

We’ve all gotten the dreaded mailer-daemon “message failed to deliver.” The reason could have been anything from a misspelled name to a decommissioned email account. The same concept applies to street addresses. If our information is wrong, the message won’t reach the intended target. And that will probably put a damper on their chances of buying from you.

Complaints and Your IP Reputation

Emails are easy to spam, and nobody likes spam. That’s why internet and email providers have put options in place to prevent it. An IP Reputation (sometimes call Email Reputation) is sort of like a credit score for your organization, representing how genuine and safe your emails are. The higher your score, the more providers will trust you and allow your emails to reach your targets. When your reader marks your email as spam, your score goes down, and the chances of your emails ever seeing the light of day dwindle.

*One of the many reasons you should build an organic list instead of buying one*

Unqualified Leads

Not everyone wants to buy from you. It’s hard, I know, but let’s be adults about it. Some people just aren’t interested in your product or service. Or if you’re selling to businesses, they may not have the authority to buy. Your list needs to have contacts who fit your target audience (aka people who are likely to want your product and can open the checkbook if they do).

Duplicate Records

There are many ways for duplicate records to end up in your CRM. Whether you end up with the same contact entry five times or twenty different contacts entries for the same company, duplicate records mean you end up wasting money on mailings… and get on your prospects’ nerves.

Why Ongoing

The only constant in life is change. People get promotions (or demotions), leave the company, or change their names. Businesses move to new locations, change their domain, or get new email providers. Change leads to bad data in your contact list, sometimes called “data decay.” Studies show that your customer data is “decaying” at a rate of 30% - 70% per year. If you don’t keep up with it, your contact list will soon be swimming in useless info.

Your Options

There are several ways you can approach cleaning up & maintaining your contact list.

  • DIY: No upfront costs, no hassle of working with a service, not always accurate, very time-consuming (which means “hidden” costs of lost work time)


  • Automated online tools: Low upfront costs, quick turnaround, fairly accurate, only available for email addresses


  • Services: Highest upfront costs (anywhere from $0.10 per record to hundreds of dollars per hour), can clean all types of data, can apply logic and contextual thought to identify your target audience, various offerings available from removing duplicates to verifying existing data to filling in missing data

Whether you do it yourself or pay someone else, cleaning your contact list is an essential part of your marketing efforts. It’s not pretty or glamorous, and it’s going to cost you either time or money, but the costs of keeping dirty data are much higher.


Noticed errors and duplicates in your list? Been receiving returned mail?


Book a 15-minute call to see if we can help.

#contactlist #customerdata #scrub #clean #marketing #emailmarketing

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