Vital Email List Maintenance Tips

By AdStation | October 18th, 2016 | Categories: Email Marketing

Email marketing can reap great benefits. But there are challenges Today more than ever, email marketing relies on a relationship between the sender and the subscriber.

Here is an interesting statistic:

68% of Americans say they based their decision to open an email on the “from” name. – Campaign monitor

What statistics such as the above reveal is, the relationship between the email marketer and subscriber is “all about trust.” Your subscribers are trusting you to send them something they want. If they recognize you as a sender who delivers quality content, they will open your email message.

Your number one goal as an email marketer is to preserve the health of your email list. The health of your email list relies on having engaged subscribers who regularly open your emails.

In this article, you’ll learn methods to ensure the proper maintenance of your email list. You’ll receive valuable tips on how to benefit from your email marketing by upholding a list of engaged subscribers.

Permission-based Subscriptions

The fast-track to a healthy email list is to practice list hygiene from the start. Using a double opt-in on your sign-up forms is recommended.

A double-often requires two steps for subscribers to confirm their sign-up. First, they sign-up through the web form. The webform launches an automated email that requires the user to open the email and click a link to (double) confirm their subscription.

This method accomplishes two goals. First, subscribers signed up with a valid email address. Second, their interest in signing up for your list is genuine.

Include A Reminder

In every email you send, it is a good practice to include a reminder. The reminder is a short message to the subscriber that recaps how they got on your list. It reminds them why they are receiving the email. It is also good to follow that text with an unsubscribe link.

Basic List Hygiene

List hygiene is the practice of removing email addresses of subscribers that have any of the following issues:

– Misspellings and typos

– Invalid email addresses

– Undeliverable email addresses

– Temporary deliverability problems

– Complainers

– Inactive subscribers.

Simple Email Cleanup

Perform a basic check on the data of your email addresses in your list to look for misspellings or typos. You are scanning for errors such as:

joe@yahoocom; [email protected];; etc.

Also look for company and/or “catch-all” email addresses such as:

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; etc.

You can perform this cleanup manually, or many email marketing providers have tools built into their services to help you with list cleanup.

Undeliverable Email Cleanup

Check the bounce rate of your emails. “Bounce” simply means emails that could not be delivered. There are two types of bounces:

A “soft-bounce” is a situation where the delivery problem was temporary (such as a server that was down or a mailbox that was full). A soft-bounce email can be sent again and will usually be delivered on the second or third attempt.

A “hard-bounce” is where the delivery problem is permanent (such as an invalid email address).

Be aware that Internet service providers track the number of bounces you generate each time you send out a campaign. Too many bounces may result in an ISP blocking your messages. For example: if Gmail decides to block your messages because of too many bounces, all your messages to anyone with a Gmail address will not be delivered.

It is important to remove any hard-bounce email addresses immediately.

Remove Complainers

It is important to remove addresses that complain to their ISP. Even though email marketers provide an unsubscribe link in their message, most ISPs now insert their own unsubscribe link inside the email client as well. This is problematic for the email marketer…

The unsubscribe link provided by the ISP directly affects and determines your reputation score based on how often it is used.

You may have done everything right, but because the user has chosen to click the ISP link instead of yours, and as a result – it has a greater negative impact on your reputation score.

It is vital to identify these types of subscribers and remove them from your list immediately.

Remove Inactive Subscribers Or Re-Engage Them

There is only one type of subscriber that is useful to you: the engaged subscriber. You need to remove users from your list who do not open your emails over a certain period of time.

If you have 50,000 subscribers on your list and only 25,000 are active – 50% of your email list is dead weight. That would mean half of your list consists of subscribers who don’t open your emails, delete them or may even report your emails as spam. Remove these types of subscribers from your list.

Sending emails out to inactive subscribers costs you more money, especially if you are using an email service provider to manage and send your list. Worse than that, having inactive subscribers ultimately hurts your reputation score. That can be devastating to your email marketing.

Quality Over Quantity

You want quality subscribers, not quantity. You want subscribers who open your emails or click links to take action. Subscribers who take part in the actions you’ve asked them to take or who buy your products.

Re-Engaging Subscribers

There are two reasons to reengage subscribers. First, if you have inactive subscribers, you want to make sure whether they want to remain on your list before you delete them.

Second, you may have email addresses that have gone “stale.” A stale email address is one that you have not mailed to for a significant amount of time. There is a strong likelihood that many of these subscribers may not remember signing up to your list or why they signed up.

In either of the preceding situations, you should run a reengagement campaign. In a re-engagement campaign, you are simply trying to regain your subscriber's interest. A common practice is to offer an incentive or reward for the person resubscribing to the list or by clicking a reconfirmation link inside the email. This might include giving them a coupon, promo code, gift or some other method.

It is also important to provide an unsubscribe link should they decide they do not want to remain on the list. Typically when running a re-engagement campaign, you can expect that around 10% of your subscribers will reengage. That number may seem small, but look at it this way… You have gained a 10% boost inactive subscribers. It is better to lose the 90% who will not. That 90% were hurting your list not helping it.

Precautions with Stale Email Addresses

When re-engaging stale email addresses (and perhaps even inactive addresses), it is often best to do so outside your normal email provider service or server. You may get many bounces, complaints, or unsubscribes. That way, the email campaign results will not hurt the reputation score of your normal service. Once you have cleaned this list into a list of active subscribers, you can move them back to your main list.

Segmenting Your List

To improve list hygiene moving forward, you should consider dividing your subscribers into separate segments or groups to help make sure you are sending the right messages to the right groups. By dividing your list into interest groups, you can send a different email to each group. Taking this approach can help satisfy different types of subscribers, who have interests in specific topics or subtopics. This helps ensure they receive content they are more likely to engage with. Using this strategy prevents sending content that may not be of interest to all subscribers on your list. This method increases the odds that subscribers will open your emails.

You can also create a “VIP” list of your most engaged and active subscribers. For example, this might be a “side-list” or segment of your overall mailing list. It is a list of subscribers known to open and/or click on most emails that you send. The purpose of this list would be when you want to send a smaller email campaign, and where you are confident that most emails will be opened.

The Benefits of Email Marketing

There is no method of marketing online that yields a greater ROI than email marketing. As an email marketer, the most important step you can take to assure the best results is to closely and consistently check the health of your email list. Ideally, you should “scrub” or clean your list before and after every email campaign you run.