The Return Path In the Know blog listed 4 reasons mailing those old addresses is a bad idea.
Ashley, the author, is completely right and I endorse everything she said. (Although I’d really like to hear what happened to the customer that added back all those addresses. What was the effect on that campaign and future email marketing?) As I was reading the article though, I realized how many times this has been said and how depressing it is that we have to say it again. And again. And again.
A number of folks have told me that the reason they don’t pay any attention to delivery professionals is because we don’t provide enough real data. They can show that sending mail to old addresses costs them nothing, and makes them real money.
That’s not really true, though. We do provide data, they just don’t like it so they don’t listen to it. Return Path publishes lots of numbers showing that mailing unengaged recipients lowers overall delivery. I can provide case studies and data but companies that are committed to sending as much mail as possible throw up many reasons why our data isn’t good or valid.
The biggest argument is that they want hard numbers. I do understand this. Numbers are great. Direct and clear answers are wonderful. But delivery is a squishy science. There are a lot of inputs and a lot of modifiers and sometimes we can’t get exactly one answer. The data is noisy, and difficult to replicate. One of the reasons is that filtering is a moving target. Filters are not, and cannot be, fixed. They are adaptive and are changing even between one hour and the next.
Delivery experts are about risk management. They are the parents requiring everyone in the car wear seat belts, even though the driver has never had an accident. They are the fire department enforcing fire codes, even though it’s the rainy season.
Risk management isn’t about the idea that bad things will absolutely happen but rather that it is more likely that a bad thing will happen in some cases.
In this case, it’s more likely that delivery problems will happen when mailing old addresses. And if those addresses aren’t actively contributing to revenue, it’s hard to argue that their presence on a list is more beneficial than their absence.
But I repeat myself. Again.