Keep your database clean for better overall performance

The large amount of contacts that companies accumulate over the years is of course, very impressive but, how many of these contacts are really active?
Alain Marceau
1 April 2019
Data Management
7 min 15
garder sa base de donnees propre pour une meilleure performance globale

Nowadays, businesses are collecting an incredible amount of different data about their customers and prospects. Enterprise databases are more than ever fed with new information from all sides.

The large amount of contacts that companies accumulate over the years is of course, very impressive and gives some pride to marketers. But ask yourself, how many of these contacts are really active? By active, I mean who has had any interaction with your brand in the last 6 months. Do the math. It may be surprising to see this number drop considerably.

The question to ask at this point is: how to distinguish relevant contacts from those who have no interest, in this flow of information?

In fact, having a list of quality contacts is the basis for ensuring the performance of your campaigns. The ultimate goal of any marketer, therefore, should be to obtain the consent of all contacts he owns and to update his database regularly. This is called having a list of very good quality. To achieve this, you can use several strategies, which we present in this article.

On the other hand, since each case is different, we have collected good practices in order to express what is, in general, most often required. Although the strategies suggested in this article are all very important, the information given may vary depending on the situation.

Seasonal cleaning is always good

  • It is important to do regular cleaning of your contact list to eliminate contacts that can reduce your performance.

Let me explain: contacts that do not interact with your brand, do not open your e-mail and make no purchase for several months, are useless. So you have no interest in keeping them in your list because they reduce your performance and are not representative of your customers. You want an active contact base that is interested in your products and therefore with greater conversion potential.

  • We advise you to do this cleaning 4 times a year, so every 3 months.

Why 3 months? Well, because 3 months is a long enough time to demonstrate interest in a brand. A contact who has not interacted with your business after 3 months will probably never do so.

In addition, it is often necessary to send several communications to a contact before he takes out his credit card to make a purchase. Therefore, depending on your sending frequency, it is usually a long enough time to make a purchase decision for most products. So, if this contact has not yet taken action, the chances that he will do it soon are very small.

Of course, keeping your list clean at all times is essential. Continuous maintenance allows you to ensure the good performance of your campaigns. On the other hand, the seasonal cleaning of which we speak here serves in fact of quality control, to make sure that your methods used daily to keep your list clean are optimized and well up to date.

This is called fixed frequency cleaning, which implies that there is no automation to set up. When this process is automated, this household is done continuously, and you almost do not need to intervene.

  • It’s also an opportunity for you to create a campaign to reactivate your inactive contacts.

A contact who has not opened your email for 6 months is not necessarily a disinterested contact. Indeed, this contact may have had interactions with your company’s blog or other non email related content. By making a reactivation campaign, you will allow contacts who still want to hear from you to come forward and you can delete those who have not responded later.

Then, with a reactivation campaign, you also give yourself the chance to obtain explicit consent for all contacts who will express their interest, which is valuable nowadays.

Take advantage of this opportunity to launch a similar campaign to renew consents that will expire soon, according to the deadlines set out in Bill C-28. These times vary depending on the type of consent you get from each contact. Check the regulations to avoid unnecessary unsubscriptions.

Such a campaign can easily be automated if you have an email sending platform that offers you this opportunity. Do not hesitate to use it to guarantee a constant reactivation of your contacts.

  • Take the opportunity to remove incorrect addresses and duplicates from your database.

An address that was legitimate during the acquisition process can easily become a spam-trap after 3 months. These addresses can really harm your reputation against spam filters and a single spam trap can put your sender address on a blacklist. So if you want to continue to have a good rate of placement in the inbox, you have every interest in following this advice.

Another good reason to get rid of inactive, incorrect or duplicate addresses is simply to avoid unnecessary costs. Indeed, on most email platforms, the price is flexible depending on the number of contacts: the more contacts you have in your database, the more expensive your platform is. This is a good reason to keep only active addresses and to delete others because anyway, you do not want contacts who are not interested in your business.

Some platforms automatically remove duplicate addresses, so make sure yours does it well to avoid doing it manually.

Buying external lists of contacts? NO!

We cannot say it enough; do not buy lists of contacts from an external company. The reason is simple, all the contacts you will get this way will, for the majority, be disinterested. Therefore, neither your company or your communications to them will be appreciated at their fair value.

You will see your opening rate decrease and your unsubcriptions increase, which is not desirable. It’s also a great way to get several spam complaints since none of these contacts gave consent to be on your list.

All of these factors affect your deliverability and overall performance. Basically, you spend money on something that only causes you inconvenience and can only hurt your performance. Do yourself a favor and put the effort to get your contacts in a natural way.

Become an authorized sender

Inviting your contacts to add you to their list of allowed senders is often a good idea, especially if they are intentionally registered to your list. If so, it would be a shame not to land in their main inbox.

If you tell them that, by adding you as an authorized sender, they will not miss any communication, there is a good chance that they will do it. This is a good opportunity to make sure you land in the right inbox and to guarantee a good performance.

The double opt-in technique. Yes, but…

You will surely hear marketers suggest in large numbers the double opt-in technique to confirm the email addresses of your new contacts. With this technique, you make sure to eliminate erroneous addresses, trap spam and those who have registered by mistake. You can then filter unconfirmed addresses to erase them. It is an interesting technique that can be used.

Another (much better) option often suggested by our experts is to replace the email validation (mechanical step without any added value for the contact) by a first welcome message. Thus, all new contacts receive the same message. This makes it possible to limit the error rate of the emails by concentrating them on a single type of communication. You also avoid adding erroneous addresses or spam trap. Basically, you kill two birds with one stone!

To do so, it is obviously necessary to set up a consent center. The idea is to validate the error rate on this type of communication, without affecting the others. This is possible since the type of communication called “Welcome” will be managed separately, to validate the rate of deliverability with a dedicated IP address.

Also use this technique for addresses obtained in person at events, a phone call, or a prospecting meeting. This also allows you to obtain proof of written consent of their subscription. Just remind them how you got their information and ask them if they want to sign up for your communications, and voila!


Finally, cleaning up your database is an essential task to do on a continual basis if you want to guarantee the good performance of your campaigns. On the other hand, several elements are to be considered to adopt the presented strategies to your business reality.

If you want it to be done effectively, the automation of the cleaning process is necessary. This way, you can define parameters and business rules that can be used to set up conversion, updating or re-engagement campaigns, links to preference centers, cross acquisition on subscriptions, and more.

These automated cleanings allow the database to clean itself and increase the contact engagement. Obviously, the complexity of setting up such automation depends on how the contacts were originally acquired and the type of database maintenance that is already in place.

Finally, having a centralized data management system is also ideal if you want to have a 360-degree view of your customers. This way, you can implement a process that takes into account all the platforms on which your contacts can interact.

To avoid getting lost, a team of experts can help you implement these strategies while adapting to your tools already in place. Contact Dialog Insight to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists!

Découvrez comment votre entreprise peut bénéficier de Dialog Insight.

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