My Simple Secret for Maintaining a Healthy Database

Lead Management


Traditional database maintenance usually involves some combination of list vendors, professional database cleansing services, email scraping, and good old-fashioned personal outreach. There’s no perfect process. And with B2B data decaying at such a rapid rate—about 70% annually—for many businesses, even employing every strategy doesn’t quite cut it. It’s a daunting task that never goes away.

But just because it never goes away doesn’t mean it can be swept under the rug. Bad data is a BIG problem that companies can’t afford to ignore. Literally. ZoomInfo research has found that as many as 40% of business objectives fail due to bad data, costing US businesses more than $611 billion annually. To combat data decay, businesses spend as much as 50% of IT budgets on data rehabilitation.

That’s a lot of time, money, and resources spent on database health.

I have a far better solution. A continuous database cleansing strategy that uses the absolute freshest data source possible: your own leads. Best of all, if automated it’s also incredibly simple—and you can start using it today.

Interested? The solution is sitting right in your inbox!

The Secret Is in Your Reply Emails

Every time you send an email campaign, replies are inevitable. Out-of-office, left-the-company, manual unsubscribe requests, and human replies. Many companies do a quick scan for the human replies and mass-delete the rest—either because they don’t have the resources to review each reply, or they aren’t aware of how valuable they are.

Let’s take a look at a very standard and unassuming out-of-office reply:

Healthy Database Example Email

Now if we’re JUST talking database health here:

  1. You just validated Mark’s email address and know he’s still at the same account.
  2. You just learned Mark’s cell phone number (pure gold to your sales team if you only had an email before).
  3. You just learned (or confirmed) Mark’s title, which will allow you to segment him to the right list and personalize future content.

As an added bonus, you also gained two net new contacts: Stephanie and Bruce. And Mark is giving you permission to contact them in his absence—take advantage of it! Reach out with your original message but add a few personalized lines to the top. Let them know how you got their contact info, introduce yourself, ask them to opt-in, and map them to your account. Are they buyers, decision makers, or influencers? With today’s B2B buying decisions now taking an average of seven people according to Gartner, every new contact you add gets you closer to sealing the deal.

Go a step further and boost your connect rates—yes, increase connect rates with out-of-office replies. You can do this by noting the date Mark is back in the office and scheduling a personal outreach.

Mining Emails Continuously Cleanses Your Database

Just looking at the potential of one OOO reply is exciting. Imagine scaling this process to impact your entire database. I’ve found that the average reply rate of a typical email campaign is 2-3% (holidays are higher), and of those replies, about 87% are out-of-office auto-responses. Consider the size of your own database and do some quick math to see how many out-of-office replies you could start mining after your next campaign.

And that’s after EVERY campaign. Every time you send an email campaign, you are sitting on data that can be used to update your database. All day, every day. It’s not a one-time or scheduled database maintenance “project;” the data is a natural product of something you’re already doing: sending emails.

Mining reply emails allows you to:

Cleanse Existing Records

Changes to titles, email addresses, and phone numbers are commonplace among B2B employees. An out-of-office, left-the-company, or even an auto-response alerting senders to an employee’s change in role, all contain valuable nuggets of information that can be used to update existing contact records and eliminate contacts that have moved on.

Enrich Existing Records

As we saw in the earlier example, replies often contain cell phone numbers, titles, and other information that can be used to enrich existing contacts. The more you know about leads, the more effectively you can engage them with direct contact and personalized, relevant content.

Add Net New Contacts

A big part of database health is continually growing your database to reach more prospects and ultimately increase pipeline and sales velocity. More than half of out-of-office emails contain other contacts as we saw in the earlier example. These new contacts could be just what you need put a deal over the finish line! Likewise, most left-the-company auto-responses contain a replacement contact. Get in front of these new contacts as quickly as possible to gain a favorable position over competitors, or to secure renewals if the account is already a customer.

Maintain Compliance with Email Spam Laws

Failing to remove people from your email lists upon request can result in hefty fines for noncompliance with email spam laws like CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR. While you undoubtedly already have an automated solution for unsubscribing, the truth is some people simply can’t be bothered and will manually reply and ask to be removed instead. By mining replies you can catch these unsubscribes in a timely manner. This allows you to remove them from your list and stay on the right side of the law.

The beauty of mining emails to improve the health of your database is that you’re leveraging data from something you’re already doing. And it requires absolutely no changes to your existing email campaigns and schedule. Now if only there were a way to automate it…