Purchasing a list from a vendor and trusting it blindly is not just a bad marketing move; it also poses legal and regulatory dangers. To understand why, think about early miners panning for gold. Now, imagine that instead of using a pan that filtered all the gravel, dirt, and other unwanted material away from the gold, the miners just took the entire deposit. As a result, most of the material the miners hauled back would be utterly worthless. The gold is now harder to identify, and the miners have added unnecessary weight during transit.
An unauthenticated email list is like panning for gold without a pan – major portions of your list could be useless to you or, even worse, actually hurt you. When you send to unauthenticated addresses, you hurt deliverability and engagement because your message isn't arriving in the inboxes of healthcare professionals. Furthermore, you risk all sorts of compliance issues by sending unapproved marketing messages to consumer groups or the wrong physician specialists. So how do you tell if your email list is authenticated? Take a look at the following three metrics to find out.
1) Email Deliverability: Count the Number of Hard and Soft Bounces
The most elementary metric to test authentication is email deliverability, which reveals whether your emails are actually making it to the inbox of a valid address. To determine your delivery rates, look at both hard and soft bounces. A bounce occurs when a recipient's email server rejects a message. A hard bounce is a permanent delivery failure that usually indicates that the email address is invalid. The reasons for a hard bounce might include:
- The email address is no longer in use or contains a typo
- The domain name (the portion after the "@" symbol) no longer exists
- The subscriber's email server has completely blocked delivery from your address
The soft bounce is less catastrophic, but it's still not good. A soft bounce is a temporary delivery failure. That is, your email reached the recipient's email server – meaning it recognized the address – but the message still comes back to you undelivered due to some kind of problem. For example, a soft bounce might occur when:
- The server detected spammy or suspicious content
- The recipient's inbox is full
- The message is too large
2) Opt-Outs: Figure Out How Many Recipients Get Your Messages but Don't Want Them
The number of opt-outs – subscribers asking you to remove them from your list – you're getting shows you how many people have received your email but turned down your content because it's irrelevant to them. If opt-outs are rare in your email campaigns, that means the recipients wanted the email and are part of your target audience. Few opt-outs show you that you have valid healthcare professional (HCP) targets, which is a sign of authentication.
3) Response Rates: To What Extent Do Recipients Interact with Your Emails?
To measure response rates, one of the strongest indicators of authentication, look at opens, click-throughs, and engagements. You might define an engagement as completing a form, joining a webinar, or downloading an e-book. The higher your response rates, the more you can trust that you have a valid HCP target list.
If these three metrics look strong to you, then your list is most likely authenticated. For the rest of you, you might be panning for gold with no pan.