Your Email Marketing Database: Why Quality Matters

Hand holding a white envelope

We’ve talked before about why we love email marketing and how nonprofits and other organizations can start seeing impact in inboxes

Sonya Schweitzer, our director of digital marketing, advocates for email marketing for a good reason: “It’s one of the only marketing channels you own besides content. If you own that, it’s not like social that can change its rules or algorithms. You own this list and you can always have the ability to reach out to your audience through your email marketing.”

You own your email marketing database. But with ownership comes responsibility. If you want a quality database, you need to maintain it. Keep it growing. Engage your contacts.

Here’s why it’s worth it to take the quality of your email marketing database seriously.

Why You Need a Quality Email Marketing Database

Maybe you have an email marketing database already. Or maybe you’re just getting started and want to follow best practices from the get-go.

Whether you’re working from a spreadsheet or a complete contact management system, you need to maintain it. Here’s why:

  • Protect your brand reputation. Sending unwanted or spammy emails can paint your brand in a negative light.
  • Keep your contacts happy. Why wouldn’t you want everyone on your list to want to receive your emails?
  • Get accurate insights. If you have a lot of folks on your list who don’t want to be there, they’ll muddy up your analytics on who’s opening your emails, who’s engaging, what they’re clicking on, etc.
  • Preserve your deliverability. If too many people mark your emails as spam, the email management providers (like Google, Yahoo, Hotmail) will start delivering your emails as spam to everyone on your list. Or worst case—they get blocked entirely.
  • Follow the law. The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act sets rules for commercial email, requiring businesses to clearly identify commercial messages, provide ways to opt out, and more. If you don’t, you can face potential legal action and fines.

How to Improve Your List

Answer this question first:

Where did you get the information for your contacts?

If they all signed up for your marketing emails on your website, for example, then you’re in a great place.

But sometimes, the contacts in your database may have been added after attending an event for your organization or when they made a donation or purchase, but they didn’t opt in to marketing emails. Or maybe you purchased a list from a third party or received access to a “shared” list.

Building a strong email list is all about permission. Only include contacts who’ve opted in to receive updates. Not only do most email marketing platforms require this, but you’ll be sure you’re reaching engaged subscribers who want to hear from you. This builds a loyal audience and keeps your emails out of spam.

Here’s how we’d recommend you get started on maintaining a quality email marketing database:

  • Look at how long each contact has been on your list. Maybe your list was inherited, sitting dormant, or grew for years without tending. And because of that, you can’t account for the source of each contact. If you have longtime contacts who aren’t engaging in your emails, that’s a sign they don’t want to be on it anymore.
  • Segment your contacts into different categories. Group your contacts based on previous engagement with your emails, demographics (such as location or profession), or history of donations, purchases, or event attendance. You can target groups with tailored campaigns that better suit their preferences and drive engagement.
  • Send a one-time email blast that lets people opt in to any future emails. Ask them to confirm that they still want to be included in your email marketing. Keep the ones that respond positively and remove the rest.
  • Start from scratch. Depending on what you find (or can’t find), you may need to just start entirely over. Trust us when we say it’s worth it in the long run. Your audience will find you again if they want to be included.

The quality of your email marketing database is way more important than the quantity of contacts on your list. With quality, you’ll protect your brand reputation, keep your contacts engaged, preserve deliverability, and get the results you want.

Once you’ve cleaned up your existing email marketing database, you’ll want to put into place a plan to grow your number of contacts and keep them engaged. Stay tuned—we’ll share our best practices on that soon!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *