There’s a well-known adage that sometimes more isn’t always better…sometimes it is just more. This is especially true when referring to your email marketing lists.Unfortunately, letting go is not always so easy when it comes to email addresses. You had such high hopes that firstname.lastname@example.org would turn your marketing team into superstars with Sales. But without a healthy list of prospects, marketers are often doing more damage than good. Your digital reputation can quickly become tarnished by a few bad seeds, (it’s just like high school all over again isn’t it?), and that could prevent you from even reaching your true prospects.
However, by taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that your lists are more vital, more engaged and more likely to make you a superstar…and not just “more.”
Let’s Start at the Very Beginning
A “clean” list begins when you first get the email address. While we must trust that a prospect is providing a “good” address when they fill out your forms, as a best practice it is always smart to review any new addresses for typos, errors and clear fakes. It’s also a good practice to weed out any distribution or system email addresses such as "marketing@", "sales@", and "postmaster@". Finally, and yes it does need to be said, remove any email address with the word “spam” in it.
Avoid Stranger Danger
Growing your list is seldom quick and painless. But that doesn’t mean you should take the easy way out and purchase a list. Purchased lists are full of prospects to whom you are a total stranger. These prospects haven’t asked to be contacted by you and can damage your email deliverability and IP reputation with increased spam complaints. A healthy list, although it may be smaller, grows organically with prospects who want to hear from you.
Monitor Your Vital Signs
Once you have your list, you should be sending out emails on a regular basis at a consistent volume (both actions will help establish your good sending reputation). Once you hit launch, it’s now time to monitor the results. Opens and clicks point to the success of a campaign, but bounces and unsubscribes can be just as telling for your marketing list’s health. Both hard bounces and unsubscribes should be less than 1%. If you are seeing an elevated hard bounce rate this is a sign of a possibly unverified or old list. A high unsubscribe rate could mean an untargeted or uninterested audience.
Unfriend the Undead
No matter how healthy a marketing list starts, at any given point some of your prospects will die off. Consider these zombie email addresses if you will. They are still alive - kind of - but aren’t showing any signs of life. As a best practice, it is smart to note email addresses that haven’t shown activity (opens, clicks, web page views) within 3 months and place them in a re-engagement campaign at 6 months. If they don’t show activity after 6 months consider removing them from your database. This will also help clean out any “honeypots” in your list. A honeypot is a spam trap that is a valid address, but will never show any activity. The address didn’t opt in to receive your mailings so the spam police will be ready to sound their sirens.
Clearly, maintaining a healthy email marketing list is vital to the success of your lead generation strategy. By following these best practices, you can help prevent the inevitable database decay and have lists that are healthier and “more” successful than ever.