The days of mass email blasts and list rentals are gone. Privacy has become a hot button issue and consumer expectations have changed. If you aren't building and managing your own email lists, you run the risk of being flagged as spam and decreasing your ROI. It is critical that you ensure your lists are clean and up to date. Here are 4 simple steps to effective email list cleaning:Step 1: Practice Good Hygiene
Review the records in your lists to correct any misspellings and typos entered during acquisition. (ex. email@example.com, mark!gmail.com, etc.). You should also remove any distribution email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org; system email addresses, such as email@example.com; and any email address with the word “spam” in it. Many email marketing providers have list hygiene tools built in to their services to keep your list clean and bounce rates low.
Step 2: Manage Bounce Rates
Emails can bounce for more than 30 reasons: the email address is incorrect or closed; the recipient’s mailbox is full; the mail server is down; or the system detects spam or offensive content. Bounces can be classified in two different ways:
Soft Bounces: When an email is sent to an active (live) email address but is turned away before being delivered. Often, the problem is temporary — the server is down or the recipient’s mailbox is over quota. The email might be held at the recipient’s server and delivered later, or the sender’s email program may attempt to deliver it again.
Hard Bounces: A permanent reason why an email cannot be delivered, such as an invalid email address. These records should be flagged and suppressed immediately since there is no chance the email will ever get delivered. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) track the number of bounces you generate with each send and use it when determining your reputation. If you generate too many bounces, ISPs may block your messages.
Step 3: Monitor Feedback Loops
Feedback loops are tools made available by ISPs that alert you when users at that ISP reports your email as spam. Some feedback loops provide enough data for you to identify the email address of those reporting you as spam. If so, you can suppress these addresses from getting future mailings (note: your ESP may do this automatically). By removing subscribers from your list who don't want to receive your emails, you will:
- Reduce the complaint rate
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Reduce sender questions and end-user complaints
With lower complaint rates, ISPs are much more likely to allow your messages to reach the inboxes of your subscribers.
Step 4: Deal with Inactive Subscribers
Inactives are those subscribers who have not clicked or opened your emails in the last 6 months. Smart marketers improve their ROI by ensuring their lists only contain subscribers who are engaged. After all, if someone is only going to delete your message, why send it in the first place?
To re-engage inactive subscribers begin by profiling them. What devices did they use? What time of day did they typically open your messages? Once you have a better understanding of the types of subscribers you are trying to reengage, create relevant messaging that will resonate with them, hopefully enticing them to re-engage.
Want to learn more about Email List Cleaning? Download our latest Whitepaper.
Happy Email List Cleaning!