Marketing data can be obtained from a variety of data sources, ranging from high quality and trustworthy to low quality and possibly criminal (depending on jurisdiction). The general rule is: if you know exactly where your email addresses came from, your data source is better.
The best source (and one of the only sources allowed in certain jurisdictions) is self-generated double-Opt-In with reCAPTCHA emails. These can nearly always be trusted, since you know the source and should have evidence of a reply allowing you to send them email.
Other sources in the middle ground of email sourcing can cause issues or challenges, such as: Single-Opt-Ins, tradeshow lists (both pre-show and badge scan generated), lists from partner or parent companies, and lists via mergers. All these sources are less trustworthy, so the best practice is to use a third party to validate these emails before sending. Act-On can see evidence of sources containing Spam Traps, which hurt both our senders and our assets for sending.
The least trustworthy sources are Third Party Vendors (List sellers and Rentees) and Scraping. These are not allowed at Act-On. These sources are rampant with Spam Traps and honeypots, and they increase the likelihood of being targeted with a lawsuit. Even after scrubbing data to remove those issues, these sources of data cause many issues with sending reputation and garner abuse reporting. This effect can easily spill outside of an email stream and affect internal email, website SEO, and market brand reputation.
The age of your data is another important factor when sending emails. Data acquired, sent to, or engaged from within 6 months is considered better. As data sits idly on lists, chances of issues with the emails grow.
For example, recycled bounces can hurt your reputation. If a user stops using a previously good email address, their ISP may turn it emails back on after a while and watch email that comes in, docking your reputation as your continue to send to it. Another example is a user swap. If someone leaves a company and another person takes their email over, your emails become much more likely to hit spam.
In the US, the average churn rate for 2016-2017 was ~19% for B2B emails, and ~9% for B2C emails. This means that a sender can see a Hard Bounce Rate of 9% from a 6-month-old list in the normal course of sending, which is far over the limit most domains allow before they start blocking/bouncing emails.
Due to those reasons, once a list is at least 6 months old without being used, it is our recommendation that it be put through a hygiene and list validation process. Act-On partners with a third-party vendor, Neverbounce, to provide these services.
List Maintenance, Hygiene, and Validation
There are a few steps in list maintenance – Act-On can help with some, and our third-party vendor, Neverbounce, can address the rest.
Act-On provides maintenance programs to remove Opt-Outs, Hard Bounces, Spam-Complaints, and any Blocked Domains or Inactive Soft-Bounces. In combination with a CRM, this can clear up a lot of clutter in data that can make lists and campaigns harder to manage and plan. This also helps speed up the system when sending, due to fewer suppressed emails.
Neverbounce provides Real-Time Validation of email, as well as validation of the source of the email address.