Having a good quality email list doesn’t just mean making sure that you have everyone’s permission to contact them. You have to maintain that quality with regular checkups and a little proactive work. Here are a few key tips and tricks on how you can keep a quality email list of contacts. Let us help you keep your list up to date and contain practical information you can use to target the right person with the right message all while maintaining a good sender reputation.
Designate a Master List
We have all gotten into the bad habit of having or working from more than one list or file with client information. And, in some cases this type of situation can’t be avoided to do well established company processes or preferences. To effectively manage your customer data and marketing practices, it is highly recommended that you designate one Master List where all of your customer data is stored and updated. This list should act as the central record keeper for your customer data, from which all other lists are updated.
Check Email Addresses to Avoid Spam Traps
Review your email lists and remove any distribution or system email addresses that are not directed to a particular person. For example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are email addresses that you will want to remove. It might seem like an obvious recommendation, but you’ll also want to check for any email addresses with the word spam in them. Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) have list hygiene tools built in and will clean your list of these types of addresses when you import them.
Validate and Organize Your Data
If you are planning to use customer data contained in your email list to segment and create targeted groups, the data needs to be as standardized as possible. You can use drop down lists with predetermined options rather than open text fields to gather information such as country. You can also have pre-formatted fields for content such as postal codes or phone numbers so everyone inputs this data the same way.
Manage Your Subscriber Expectations & Reduce Unsubscribes
At the sign up process, let your subscribers know about the benefits to receiving your emails and don’t forget to tell them how often to expect emails from you. Managing their expectation will lower the risk of opt outs and complaints. You’ll also want to give them some control, and allow them to update their profile if possible, or at least be able to customize their mailing preferences. This will also help to lower the chances of having them unsubscribe.
If your contacts do happen to unsubscribe from receiving your emails, be sure to honour their request.
It’s actually the law to have a way for contacts to opt out from your mailing lists. The best way is to include a link in your mailing that is clearly identified as a way to unsubscribe. Contacts might also reply to your mailing or even call you so no matter how they contact you, be sure to honour these unsubscribes.
Monitor Delivery Results and Manage Bounces
Keep a close eye on your email delivery rates and activity, so you are best managing your soft bounces, hard bounces, replies and inactive subscribers.
A soft bounce means that the email was returned as temporarily undeliverable. This could be caused by a busy server or a full inbox. Set a limit on how many soft bounces are acceptable for your list. For example, if you send emails every week and for 6 months the same address is returned as a soft bounce it might be time to remove them from your list, and arrange for some other form of follow up to verify the correct email if possible.
A hard bounce means that the email was returned as permanently undeliverable. Most major ESPs have the capability to automatically identify email addresses that have bounced more than five times and to create a separate group list of these contacts. You can use this group to deactivate these email contacts and in turn keep your list clean. Managing your bad email addresses will help to give you a ‘Good Sender’ reputation, resulting in improved deliverability for all of your campaigns.
You will also want to monitor feedback or replies after each campaign you send out. Be sure to read all of your replies and quickly handle opt out and profile update requests.
Finally, you’ll want to ensure you’re handling your inactive subscribers to improve quality of your list. Let’s face it, all lists will have some opt outs or inactive subscribers. People change jobs, change their email address or simply receive too many emails to read everything in their inbox. Good list management includes removing or preferably re-engaging inactive subscribers.
Need more help? Contact us for more information on keeping your list clean and engaged!