Databases: How clean is your house?

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm Written by

How clean is your house?

How often do you do a deep clean of your house? Every time the season changes? Once a month? When the football season is over? Once a year at Christmas? Getting rid of clutter, having a sort out of the kitchen cupboards or binning the hoard of holey socks is something that we all do at some point?

So surely, we should also keep an eye on the tidiness of our subscriber data base and our account?

After all data does die.


Why should I clean my database?

• To save you money! Each email sent through your campaign has a cost. This cost may be time (time is money), resources or even some cold hard cash
• A lower bounce rate (1% and under) can give you access to our high performing bank of IP addresses (blog)
• A clean database, segmented and relevant can be used for direct marketing (personalisation to the subscriber and targeted content) rather than mass marketing (to the world and its mother)
• To improve your open rates, and ultimately your click through rates leading to conversions! Providing you a return on your investment.


How does data die?

First off, I’m talking about subscriber data not Data from Star Trek.

Star Trek Data


If you think about when you move house, you contact the bank, the doctors, the tax office and perhaps even Tesco to give your change of address. You may also use mail redirection for 6 months to get any straggling post sent to your new address. With lists or accounts that customers use, often mailing data won’t be updated. If you are sending to B2B customers, there are a few things that you need to be aware of with their data.

  • They may leave the company – therefore this subscriber is dead data
  • They may change their name and may not have mail forwarding on – again dead data
  • The company may change their domain so it could be that you are mailing for example when it’s actually

Estimates suggest that around 30% of B2B data goes out of date within 12 months! Consumer data (email addresses last longer, I’ve had one of my addresses for 7 years) can last longer but with how easy it is to create a new email address, it can be even hard to keep track of (


So how do you make sure that data stays alive and your subscriber base stays optimal?

There are a few applications or web based software systems that can offer checking services for either single or batch email addresses. Here is a batch testing program from mail-tester. It is free of charge and will check how many addresses are viable. The same website offers a single email address check. There are many more platforms to use such as data validation, Experian, and many more! (you will just need to Google ‘email verification’ or ‘check email address is valid’).

N.B some bulk checking services will cost, so you may need to factor this into your email marketing budget.

Once you have found any dead data, you can remove it from your subscriber list. Either manually or by exporting your whole group into an XSLX (Excel or equivalent) document, and searching for the address, deleting and re-uploading the group.


“Clearing dead data from your subscriber groups will reduce your bounce rate, therefore saving you email credits!”


What else can I do?

  1. You can offer subscribers a preference as this blog explains. As well as unsubscribe, there is the opportunity to encourage subscribers to hear about other campaigns that you may do with different lists. This can give your subscriber the option to hear about summer sun or winter breaks, both of which you may have segmented away from your general mailing list. Just remember that these groups will need to be public, so choose classy labels 😊
  1. You can also add an mailto option in your campaign footer (select the text, click on the hyperlink and select email for link type). This you can use to encourage customers to keep their details relevant.


  1. Another one of our blogs discusses why managing bounces is so important. Bounces can be soft or hard, and dependent on your preferences the amount of soft bounces set can mean that after say three bounces the address is removed from your data base. This blog highlights the way to deal with bounces and what the bounce messages may mean.
  1. A final way of checking if your data is still alive, is to export (only on Enterprise packages) the campaign data. Any addresses that have consistently not opened your campaigns could mean that they are dead engagements. There could be multiple reasons, so to check that the data is well and truly dead, segment these addresses into a new group and send them a final email.


Put a strong call to action in the body of the email, with a striking subject line. ‘We’ve missed you’ or ‘we hope everything is OK?’ are feel good headers. This could assist in encouraging the engagement you need to keep them on your list.




TIP: Once you have cleaned your database, we recommend giving it a once over every 3 to six months (set a recurring reminder in your calendar). Dependent on your subscriber base size, and how many campaigns you send out a year.

Follow Rachel Hughes on Twitter

Rachel Hughes

Email Marketing Executive at NewZapp


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