It’s a roundabout, not a two-way street! Data Integrity, Trust and You
Email marketing is only as good as your consumer data will allow it to be
The customers which you have, and are presumably aiming to target with the mailers, are no good to your needs if you don't have two things.
- Their details (not to mention whether this information supplied is valid nor not) coupled with what type of a company you are and what your intentions for you mailer campaign are.
- Their trust.
How do you get a consumer to trust you?
You can start, quite simply, with asking yourself; “What consumer information am I collecting” and “Why am I collecting this specific data”. Ensure your answers are clear, accurate and concrete. After this, you can formulate a clear strategy around collection of the information.
Once you have determined why you are collecting the data, you can very easily determine which data sets you actually need. If it isn’t relevant to your business needs, bin it.
Remember the last time you signed up to a newsletter and gave your real name and email address? Nope, me neither. Probably because, like so many consumers around the world, you don’t trust the company, who you’re providing this information to, to protect your personal information.
You have the trust now – but do you consumers want to hear from you?
There are still consumers out there who are optimistic and a good fair few of them may also be interested in whatever it is that your company does. This is great news and it gives you a chance to put your learnings in action. You’ve had the business meetings and determined what it is that you want your mailers to communicate and this has allowed you to determine which data fields you need to ask your consumers for. Knowing what data you want is already half the battle and your consumers are delighted because they don’t feel as if their privacy is being violated by some pixels on their screen.
But the war is not yet won… You have customers but are they actually customers?
How do you validate that the signed-up consumers are who they say they are? After all, what good is sending a carefully crafted newsletter out to a database full of firstname.lastname@example.org email addresses?
Data validation, unfortunately, all too often tends to be overlooked when it comes to gathering consumer data. Generally speaking companies tend to get the first step right; validating the input of their webforms. If you have asked a consumer to supply their name, surname and email address, then your form should not submit without any data in any of these fields (important to note, name and surname fields should always only accept alphabetical characters. Email fields should allow for alphanumerical entries). And, for the most part, this is done correctly (again, speaking very generally). But, how do you know for sure that you haven’t been given incorrect info?
The short answer to this is; you can’t. The sad reality is that, short of stalking consumers on public platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn (really, it happens), you will never be 100% certain that you have received the correct info from a consumer.
This marks the clear distinction between Data Validity and Data Accuracy (we’ll save Data Accuracy for Part 2 of this blog in the future)…
Back to data validity.
The best method for testing that your data is valid is to go with a “double opt-in” method for filling your database. You see, while a single opt-in method may be easier on the consumer (they give you the info and *presto* they’re on the list) and may be a faster way to build a database list, it also places you at greater risk with regards to your reputation. Single opt-in forms require less of the consumer but they don’t necessarily protect the consumers’ privacy as information control is very lax. Net-savvy users will take note of this and this does affect the trust that they have in your company.
Using a double opt-in system for data validity
With a double opt-in system there is an additional hoop for the consumer to jump through but what this method lacks in efficiency, it more than makes up for in protection of personal information. The consumer will supply their email address and then be required to acknowledge a confirmation mailer which is automatically sent to the email address they entered in.
What’s the downside to a double opt-in system?
The shortfall to this is that you may see slower list growth (multiple steps tend to frustrate some users in this age of instant gratification) and you might also lose addresses (thanks Spam filter) but, at the end of the day, if you have taken the time to identify the need for better data, then these factors can be mitigated.
Losing addresses of consumers who don’t follow through with the confirmation mailer is a small price to pay. If anything, it can be viewed as an extra layer of validating your data. The consumers who follow through with the confirmation mailer are quite clearly indicating their intentions. This is the audience which you want to be targeting.
Here, we’ve come full circle
If you’ve interested them with your product, they will supply you with the information you have asked of them. If you’ve earned their trust, then they will have no problem with following through on the double opt-in. If anything, they will appreciate the attention to detail in terms of monitoring the safety of their personal information. Through this, you’ll have filtered out a great deal of bad leads thus securing the integrity of the data in your lists. Closed loops are a good outcome for anyone. As we say, it’s a roundabout.