‘Toxic’ data is crippling email marketing

By Ahmed Ahmed

A further hurdle is the inbox. Email marketing targets those potential customers who have signed up to receive updates via online forms. However, 21% of the recipients report the messages they receive as spam, which condemns emails from the sender company to end up lost in the junk mail folder.

Open rates ‘as low as 6%’ for purchased data

There is, as you no doubt already know, a healthy trade in data purchasing. Many organisations out there offer to sell data — lists of email addresses — to other companies looking to boost their marketing databases. In the vast majority of cases, it would seem that this is a bad investment.

The problem, of course, is that these lists contain people with often no prior contact with the company contacting them. Factoring in the low recognition rates, and the annoyance factor — nobody wants to receive a blatantly spammy email — it’s no wonder that the vast majority of email campaigns run using purchased lists end up in the junk folder. Only 6 – 8% are opened.

Is email marketing dead?

These sobering figures seem to spell doom for email marketing. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this can still be a highly effective way of reaching customers. The crucial issue is the quality of data lists used to distribute messages.

Here are three key steps towards building a better email database:

Cleansing Hands up if you’ve ever given a false name or email address online? So have I. In fact 14% of data from online forms is fake. A good junk scanner helps to weed out spoof accounts and false data.


Even the accurate data doesn’t remain accurate for long. A 2.5% decay rate means that in a year’s time, 30% of data can be rendered useless. And just under a third of subscribers change their email addresses annually. Regular maintenance helps to remove inaccuracies and inactive addresses.


To minimise wastage and maximise ROI, companies often use marketing automation systems. These are programmed to monitor email databases for inactivity, clues of interest or disinterest. Regular manual checking is also vital.

The statistics and image were obtained from Modern Marketer, which includes further insights into the current state of email, social and mobile marketing.

About the author

Ahmed Ahmed is Online PR Manager at Tomorrow People, an inbound and content marketing agency in the UK. Clients include a range of B2B organisations in the financial services, IT and manufacturing sectors.

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