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The mantra of any good data system is “garbage in, garbage out.” At Yesler, we work with many clients who have abandoned some of the more complicated functions of their MAP because of the state of their data. None of the exercise of setting up a MAP, integrating it, building dashboards, or creating a revenue model is even a little bit worth it unless you proactively create a way of ensuring that your data gets and stays clean. Similarly, making sure you set up some ironclad opt-out and email preference rules will ensure that you don’t have to sweat any legal grey areas around whether you can market to all the prospects you worked so hard to collect.
These are business-level decisions, and they should be made by business-decision makers at your organization. How long can we market to our prospects? Do we want to purge the database of inactive or unmarketable leads after they sit for a year? Two years? How can we stop garbage from getting in? These are the questions you need to answer at a high level before you can delve into the tactics of how to keep the data clean.

don't let data be your blind spot

You might believe you have more important things to do with your time than worry about how clean your database is. After all, isn’t it better to focus on creating content, building landing pages, running campaigns, and measuring the results of all your hard work?
Not if you don’t put first things first. Think of it this way: If you’re going to drive across the country, you simply can't start without a fresh oil change and checking the air pressure in your tires.
Keeping your data clean is usually done in two places. First, do everything possible to verify that new records in your MAP are accurate—no fake names or email addresses allowed. Second, revisit your CRM database on a regular basis to scrub away the spots.
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Multipoint Data Inspection

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Emission control: email preference centers

Email preference centers, like basic data hygiene, are something every MAP can help you create, but are seldom used in the way they should be to aid in delivering relevant, welcomed content to your subscribers.

make sure you pass inspection

The first thing to do when implementing or re-implementing your MAP is to ensure that you have the components in place to comply with antispam laws wherever your leads are. Here are a few quick tips:
  • Antispam laws in Canada (CASL) are now the strictest in the world. You could, if you want, engineer your whole database to comply with them and you'd (generally) be in compliance almost everywhere else. This is quick and easy, but it will also cause rapid attrition from your database because the law requires obtaining additional consent to send messages if the last request for information was more than six months ago. This may not necessarily be a bad thing. After all, do you really want to keep marketing to leads that requested a piece of content six months ago and have done nothing since?
  • You could also split out leads from Canada, the European Union, and the United States and create different opt-in and opt-out requirements for each. This requires a little more work but will, in the long run, give you more access to more leads.
  • While most MAPs take care of unsubscribe requests for you, ensuring that you have the right legal components in your email footer is another piece of compliance to pay quick attention to—from when you first set up your email templates. (Keep those components hard-coded in the template so marketers can’t accidentally alter them.)
  • When in doubt, ask a lawyer! While it’s relatively easy to comply with antispam legislation and give your leads a good experience as subscribers to your content, penalties for violating antispam laws are significant. If you have a complex lead database or procedures for sending email, it’s better to check than be sorry.
Beyond handling unsubscribe requests and basic legal compliance, setting up an email preference center can help your email marketing be more successful. An email preferences center allows leads to tell you the kind of content they want to receive by selecting from a list of content categories, and it ensures that your marketers are always bucketing messages in one of those categories.

The no-surprise email preference center

The best email preferences centers do a few key things:
  • Allow prospects to understand and choose from a range of types of communication (“I want to hear only about webinars” or “I want to know everything your company does!”).
  • Understand what those options are and how they map to what they receive from you. In other words, you don’t want someone enthusiastically saying they want to receive emails about webinars, then getting emails about webinars that are actually your newsletter, which contains a lot of other content.
  • Understand the frequency of communication they are signing up for. Again, this is part of a more general no-surprises rule.
There are several ways to accomplish all the above, but as you design your system, be sure to involve the person who is in charge of developing your marketing content and those who will write the emails when you create the email preferences center. By involving content creators, you'll hear them describe the type of content they are distributing, and you can better align your list descriptions with what is actually being marketed.