Spring Cleaning Part 2: Maintaining Your Email List
Once you have a solid email list of subscribers (developed through the techniques we describe in Spring Cleaning Part 1), it’s important to maintain it. According to Marketing Sherpa, a corporate email list has an average annual decay of 25%. People change email addresses, move on to new jobs, etc., so it is critical to practice proper list maintenance by purging your list of dormant and dead addresses.
By saying goodbye to old addresses on your email list, you’ll improve your metrics and, in turn, your sender reputation and inbox placement. Read on to discover how to nurture your list for optimal deliverability and marketing success.
Why a clean list is important
Internet service providers (ISPs) are becoming more reliant on engagement metrics to detect spam. Engagement metrics are defined by how your subscribers interact with your email like opening it and clicking on links. Mailup just wrote a great article on sender reputation, which broke down the seven signals of email engagement:
If your emails are getting opened, replied to, added to address books, etc., you’re in the clear. So ensure you’re properly segmenting and sending to your list based on user behavior to stay relevant to your audience. If not, you’ll just spin your wheels doing the ole’ batch and blast routine, get ignored and end up in the spam folder.
Understand how complaint rate is calculated
When someone marks your emails as spam, the ISP tallies that complaint against your active subscribers, not your total subscribers. Active subscribers are the people who open, click and presumably read your emails. So, if you have a list of 10,000 subscribers but only 3,000 are considered active and 10 people mark you as spam, your complaint rate would be calculated as follows: 10/3,000 = a complaint rate of .3%.
CakeMail advises that your spam complaints should never exceed 0.25% (1 out of 400 emails sent). If you do, ISPs can send your emails to the junk folder or block you permanently. It’s also important to remember that your email service provider has its own thresholds set for how many complaints you can receive before they shut down your ability to send. For example, Aweber requires that your complaint rate stays under .1% before your sending practices are questioned.
Start to monitor subscriber-level activity
Inactive users on your list are essentially dead weight. It’s best to part ways with them before they hurt your deliverability and metrics.
To do this, start to track subscriber-level activity in your mailings with advanced analytic tools. With this information, you can access individual opens and clicks over time and can separate the individuals who have not opened or clicked an email of yours in the last 6 months into a new sending segment.
Send a re-engagement campaign
Even though this list you have identified has not been engaged with your campaigns for some time, there’s still a chance to reinvigorate them. Many different approaches can be taken for your re-engagement email but make sure it’s on-brand, personalized and relevant to the subscriber. It also doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive. Crocs nailed all these elements in their re-engagement campaign:
Remove inactive subscribers
After a lengthy period of inactivity (and a cold shoulder response to your re-engagement email), it’s safe to assume these subscribers have either changed emails or they’re just not that into you anymore. It’s time to say goodbye.
Once you have unsubscribed your dormant members, make sure to give them a way back onto your list through an email preference center. HubSpot Sales (formerly Sidekick) did a great job of scrubbing their list with the email below while also throwing out one last lifeline to the customers who weren’t ready to call it quits.
Even though it’s painful to delete a once-promising lead, practicing proper list maintenance techniques will result in a better sender reputation, email metrics and deliverability rates.
Do you know enough about your subscribers to practice the list maintenance techniques discussed in this blog? If not, sign up for our free 7-day trial and test our analytics tools. The secret to a high performing email list is just a click away
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Author: Alex Ilhan
Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.