‘Toxic’ Data Cripples Email Marketing Efforts

A world of toxic data keeps email open rates low

More and more companies rely on generating leads from consumer collected online, but research reported by Eloqua shows that 14% of this data is faked, while 30% is valid for just one year or less.

21% hit ‘mark as spam’

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.

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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 key issue is the quality of data used to distribute the lists.

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


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% monthly 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.

For more insights into the current state of email, social and mobile marketing, visit Eloqua Modern Marketer.

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