5 Tips for Keeping Your Email Marketing Lists Clean

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Email subscribers are most frequently lost as people either lose interest, change their work places, in some cases because of closing their accounts, but quite often due to overly spammy newsletters. Anyone who has built their list for several years, will know how important it is to keep the list clean, if only to be able to get rid of poor marketing metrics.

On top of helping you with keeping your metrics clean, in the recent years we’ve seen a drastic change to the algorithms of email spam filters. Back in the day, spam filters uses the written content and subject lines to determine the quality of an email, however in the recent years it has expanded to other areas. A list that’s populated with outdated (inactive) email addresses is going to be suspicious one way or the other.

It doesn’t just affect you short-term either, a list that hasn’t been cleaned for years has the potential to be penalized by email delivery services and have lowered sender score, crucial to having all your emails sent out on time. In this column, we’re looking at ways of keeping our lists clean and tidy.


Get rid of Hard Bounce

In email marketing, a hard bounce happens when an email is failed to be deliver within 48 hours or more. These days, a handful of email marketing software providers have in-built tools for allowing you to clean your list of these hard bounce emails, while some will do this for you on automated basis.

Typically, these are the reasons for a hard bounce:

Recipient email address does not exist.
– Domain name does not exist.
– Recipient email server has completely blocked delivery.

Before your next campaign, make sure that you know how to clear your hard bounces, and then develop it into a regular habit. It’s one of the best ways of keeping your sender score and your domain protected for credibility.


Manual labor

Technology is clever, but not everything is possible to automate. In your email list, you’re bound to find emails that stem from typos, auto-correct mistakes, and other similar traits. Truthfully, there is a very likely chance that a good portion of your subscribers have provided either an invalid email address, or misspelled it. This will hit the hardest those who don’t opt for a double opt-in process.

In that respect, it’s a good idea to perform a manual scan of your email list at least once a month, look out for emails that have the “.com” or “.net” misspelled, are missing the “@” symbol, or have the name and domain as numbers; frequent spammers. The best way to protect yourself from this is by enabling a double opt-in feature which will make users verify their email addresses, and won’t be added to the list until they do.


Remove casualties

If you work in a specific industry and/or provide content in exchange for a signup, quite often you will find that a few of the people on your email list come from specific company accounts; casualties. These are typically the email accounts that are used within a specific department and/or part of the company, and nobody has any intention to spend any money or time on the emails you send. Here are a few examples:

etc,. etc,. etc,.

they might not be ignored always, but the lack of engagement with these addresses has been known around the email marketing community, and besides — you can always check the engagement for yourself, avoid damaging your sender score with poorly treated emails.


Ask before removing

Three months, six months, a year. It seems that a lot of email marketing experts have a different opinion on how long to keep a part of your email list active. If you’ve got some segments laying around that you haven’t emailed in a while, perhaps before letting them go — a reengagement email to ask for their input is a good idea. If their email account is still functional, there’s a chance they might want to stick around; or unsubscribe for good.

Simply asking customers to update their email information can have surprising engagement results. This tactic gives the customer an opportunity to enter a new email address if hers has changed, customize her email settings, and sign up for mobile or social media updates, if it turns out that’s how she prefers to engage. — KISSmetrics

Keep your reengagement emails short and sweet, let them know about your latest ideas, let them know that you’d love to have a conversation with them. It’s an easy way of letting them know that you care about them.


Data driven email marketing

Your list should always be in top-notch condition, which means that your list is segmented in a way that reflects the overall engagement of each individual list member. A modern email marketing platform will usually have this feature by default, so there isn’t all that much work left to do; other than organizing and analyzing.

The subscribers who open all emails are the top dollar, and should be prioritized straight away, subscribers who have decided to open fewer emails, should get a taste of something different once in a while; just to spark their interest.

In a recent update, Pardot mentions keeping your email lists as one of the top priorities this year, emphasizing how important list hygiene and data quality are to your sending reputation.


qSample Guest Blogger: Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur with the focus on building highly-engaging content sites in the field of business, technology and development. You can find his most recent work at CodeCondo; an aspiring community of tech-oriented minds. He is also a contributor to the Huffington Post.

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