Your Marketing Strategy is Wrong: How False Signals Mislead Marketers

A recent survey of marketers reveals that a third don't trust their marketing data, and over half of CTOs and CDOs don't trust it. They're right to be concerned.

As an email marketer, there is only so much power you wield. While you'd like to think you have complete command of your messaging, campaigns, strategy, and marketing automation systems, the truth is that you're up against a lot of forces outside your control.

As if it weren't enough to monitor opens, clicks, open-to-click ratios, send time optimization, and frequency management data, you're also fighting the email service providers of your audience, and even your own CRM software.

False Signals from ESPs

In an effort to fight spam and deliver only the highest quality content, email service providers have devised multiple filtration methods.

Usually when you read about these techniques, they're presented as absolutely reliable. Silent Quarantine will only filter out known malicious actors, in the background, without alerting the customer or the sender.

Greylisting will force the sending email server to "call back later," a capability which only legitimate senders would have, but results in a soft bounce signal passing back to the sender.

Apple's new Mail Privacy Protection will scan all incoming mail, which will send back false open signals and obscured IP addresses.

And while these practices are presented as 100% effective, in reality… well, have you ever found important emails in your junk folder? Have you ever received obvious junk mail in your inbox?

Despite the best intentions of ESPs, their methods are not foolproof. I think as both senders and receivers of email, we'd all much prefer it if they were.

Caught in the crossfire are legitimate emails sent to real audiences who are looking forward to the messaging. Sometimes your messages will actually land in your audience's inbox; sometimes they won't. And you may have no idea.

Meanwhile, malicious bots can flood your contact database with fake email addresses and contact information. This will skew your engagement data since that portion of your audience will never engage, because they don't exist.

And if your CRM charges based on the number of contacts in your database, you're now paying more for data that is actively damaging your marketing strategy.

What do all these things have in common for marketers?

It means your data is polluted. Your data is filled with questionable open signals, unreliable segmentation data, and fake contact information. As a result, you don't know your actual engagement rates, and your marketing automation software can't tell you.

And as bad as that sounds, it's worse: Consider the effect all this will have on your email sender reputation. Since ESPs look at engagement as part of your sender score, sending emails to a bunch of fake email addresses gets their attention.

It's not the kind of attention you want.

These are growing problems that should be keeping marketers up at night. Because it's not a matter of whether you're affected by polluted data, it's only a question of how much it's costing you.

How Bad is It?

To understand how serious the problems can get, we've analyzed our customers' (and our own) databases. So far, the lowest percentage of inaccurate data we've found is 8%. The highest percentage of inaccurate data we've found in a single database is 72%.

72% inaccurate data in one database. This company has been relying on 72% inaccurate data to make their marketing decisions, and didn't know.

How bad is yours?

You need more intelligent marketing automation software. You need a system that will look more deeply into the signals sent from ESPs to sort engagement fact from engagement fiction.

Enter Dark Pool

We developed our Dark Pool Cleanup to combat these urgent problems. It's purpose-built machine learning designed to not only dig past ESP's current methods of corrupting your data, but will also monitor incoming signals for any new techniques the ESPs might devise.

Dark Pool will analyze your current database to determine which contacts are real humans adding to your bottom line and which are fake contacts damaging your campaigns and email sender reputation.

Dark Pool looks at a wide range of data to determine when it's human interaction and when it's an ESP countermeasure. It doesn't take open and click signals at face value, but looks at broader behavior patterns, like web views and form submissions.

With Dark Pool on your team, you'll know exactly how effective a campaign is. For instance, let's say that 25% of your contact database is inaccurate. You run an email marketing campaign that results in a 10% response rate. But if 1 in 4 didn't receive the email, or don't exist, that means that your actual response rate from actual humans was 13.33%.

Now, imagine if your inaccurate data is closer to the 72% worst-case scenario we've seen. That would have a significant impact on your marketing strategy. You may have unknowingly optimized your campaigns for an audience that doesn't exist.

Dark Pool will not just provide more transparent and more accurate engagement data, it can also lower your costs. Many CRMs charge based on the size of a contact database. But how many of those contacts are humans, and how many are bots? If your contact database is close to 72% inaccurate, how much will you save just on your CRM fees?

Dark Pool is your secret weapon. It will show you just how bad your data pollution is and how you can get back on track. It will give you a more accurate picture of how successful your campaigns are, continually monitor your audience's behavior to ensure that those who want your message have the opportunity to receive it, and lower your CRM costs.

Ready for a free Dark Pool assessment? Click here to schedule a demo.

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