You’ve spent months perfecting your sales prospecting sequences. From understanding your buyer personas to crafting the perfect sales messaging, you’re confident that your strategy will fill your pipeline.
But could your prospect data throw a wrench in your plans?
Prospect data and list hygiene are some of the most important, but often overlooked, variables in any outbound sales and marketing strategy. They are vitally important in determining your email deliverability, or the ability for your emails to successfully land in your prospect’s inbox. Without a strong pulse on this aspect of your campaign, even the best prospecting emails are useless.
Prospect Data in its most basic form is the contact information (email addresses, phone numbers, first name, last name, company, etc.) an organization has on hand for their Sales & Marketing leads. There are 3 basic steps to ensuring basic healthy Prospect List hygiene:
- Prospect Source
- Initial Prospect Data Validity
- Ongoing Prospect Data Cleanliness.
Creating an environment of good, clean prospect data starts with how and where you source your data.
The best data comes directly from the source: opt-ins from your prospects. From creating gated guidebooks to intriguing prospects with webinars, there are dozens of strategies to have your prospects opt-in to your nurture campaign. Because these prospects have shown direct interest in your offering and are primed to learn more, they are warm, high-quality leads.
However, many businesses want to expand their reach with intentional outbound campaigns using prospect data from 3rd party data providers. Depending on the provider, these companies can help you to curate lists of your ideal prospects based on targeting parameters. When utilizing data providers, always be aware of the regulatory requirements within the country or region you’re working. Vendors approach compliance differently, so confirm their data conforms with your legal requirements.
So now that you have your list of qualified prospects, what’s next?
Initial Prospect Data Validity
After securing your list of prospects, your data needs to be cleansed before placing it into your sales funnel. Depending on your specific organization’s data management process, the execution of this step can vary greatly. The good news is that you can outsource; there are numerous 3rd party email verification and cleaning solutions available to manage this process for you. Companies like NeverBounce, KickBox, and ZeroBounce ensure that the data attached to your prospects is valid, but it doesn’t stop there. Some will even rank the likelihood of those prospects engaging with your emails!
There are 3 primary ways data is invalid:
- Invalid Formula: Email addresses have a repeatable formula of [email protected]. If this simple formula isn’t followed, the email address is invalid.
- Invalid Domain: If the formula is correct but the domain doesn’t have an email server associated with it (example: [email protected]) then the email isn’t valid.
Important: Not all internet domains have email servers. Example: ABC Consulting uses the domain address abcconsulting.com for their website but uses abcconsultingmail.com for their email.
- Invalid Name: The third and most common kind of invalid email is an email address that contains a valid formula and domain, but an invalid name ([email protected]).
The reason this is the most common reason for a bad email is two-fold. First, the formula and domains are much more static and predictable in nature, meaning these variables are much easier to account for. Secondly, how companies name their email addresses isn’t static. Some companies, for example, will use [email protected], while others will use [email protected]. This makes it more difficult to judge the legitimacy of an email address by invalid name because, unlike Invalid Formula and Domain, there are no sweeping rules that can be assumed.
Ongoing Prospect Data Cleanliness
After cleansing your lists of invalid names, you now have a highly accurate list of leads open to learning about your solutions. The final step in creating an environment of clean prospect data is auditing and maintaining prospect data cleanliness.
First, you should continue to utilize your Email Verification Process used for new prospects for your current prospects. Just because the email domain and name were valid when first added, doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. People change their names or move jobs and companies change their processes. Prospect data is always in flux. As a best practice, check your existing prospects on a semi-regular basis; we recommend every 3 to 9 months depending on your business.
Secondly, you should remove bad email addresses from your prospect lists as they occur. A bad email address will most commonly be a bounced email. There are many reasons an email could bounce, but most commonly it is because the address is invalid. While the goal of Email Verification Tools is to minimize Bounced Emails, nothing is perfect. Ensure that you are removing these email addresses from your lists as you see them.
Lastly, instituting an Email Sunset Policy is key. Hubspot defines an Email Sunset Policy as “a plan of action for how to manage disengaged contacts that are no longer opening your marketing [and sales] emails.” This is a crucial and often overlooked step. Oftentimes, companies are resistant to removing valid email addresses; every valid email is a potential lead. However, by continuously engaging uninterested prospects, you are risking a negative impact on your future ability to market. Additionally, you’re wasting resources on prospects that have shown via their inaction that they are not interested.
By having quality prospect sources, initial prospect data validations, and ongoing prospect data cleanliness practices, your organization will be on the right path to building an environment of healthy prospect data. While it may seem like a lot of effort, ensuring quality prospect data and list hygiene will result in a positive experience for both your marketing and sales teams, as well as your potential clients. Your deliverability will be healthy, prospects will receive your emails, and you’ll be one step closer to building a profitable lead generation engine.
To learn more about the obstacles within prospect data, click here.