Email List Cleaning: Call the Ambulance
“Take me to the hospital
Take me to the hospital
Take me to the hospital
Take me to the…”
“Take Me To The Hospital”, The Prodigy
Email list cleaning is like brushing your teeth in the morning – it’s not very entertaining, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Mailing lists are very important marketing tools; most business owners take great care in setting them up and watching their statistics. Because they grow and thrive, you can think of your mailing list as a living organism that needs care to survive. Like all living things, if neglected they can become unhealthy and an unhealthy mailing list is of little use to you. You need to know how to set up a healthy mailing list from the start, and know what warning signs to look for when taking your mailing list’s temperature.
The Gluttony Email List Myth
Bigger isn’t always better. Often eager marketers will rush to build the largest list they can, resorting to list buying and other risky behaviors that actually do more harm than good. If you started out as a sales person you might have been raised on the “it’s a numbers game” mantra and while that is technically true, the quality of those numbers is even more important. The second biggest mistake is bombarding your subscribers with too many e-mails, trying to cover too many topics at once. For optimal health you want to keep your e-mail list at its fighting weight and make sure you’re using it correctly.
Email List Cleaning Starts With a Healthy List
A healthy list will generate income and leads, while an unhealthy list ends up undeliverable and completely worthless. It is critical that you start your mailing list out on the right foot with a clear opt-in process. Most people these days build their e-mail marketing lists through their website; make sure your opt-in is clear (your customer should not be surprised they ended up on your mailing list). To avoid being seen as SPAM many marketers are using the double opt-in where people that have clicked a button to subscribe to your email will actually get sent a welcome email that contains a link they must click on in order to officially join the mailing list. This confirms that the person joining your mailing lists is doing so because they truly have interest in what you’ll be sending them. They are much more likely to open your emails and click on your links.
Never buy third party email lists. It is actually illegal to market to people through email that you do not have a relationship with. Even if it were allowed, why waste time and money adding people to your e-mail list that have no intention of buying anything from you? Most of these people will immediately mark your email as SPAM and seriously hurt your credibility and delivery rates. Know what you’re going to send out, and keep the flow steady. If you’re only going to send them one or two emails a year, forget about it. They won’t remember who you are. On the other hand, you can’t send them three e-mails a day as if you’re their BFF either. Have a consistent mailing schedule. If you touch on more than one topic or demographic you might want to consider segmenting your marketing list to better target your customers. Providing relevant and insightful content is the key to building a lasting relationship with your readers. Finally, make sure there is a clear and simple unsubscribe link in every email you send out. The easier it is for people to remove themselves from your list when they are no longer interested, the less likely they are to report your -mails as SPAM or to delete them without opening. It may seem counter intuitive to show people the exit sign, but trust me; you’ll be doing them and yourself a huge favor in the long run.
Once you build your email list you’re going to want to keep a close eye on its growth and progress. Any email management software worth mentioning will give you access to complete analytics including the bounce rate, the open rate and how often people took action. These are important factors to look at when gauging the health of your mailing list. To take the temperature of your mailing list look out for:
- Bad email addresses (why not try our email verifier?)
- Members that never open your emails
- The amount of emails you send out (and on what topics)
Reports have shown that 83% of the emails that don’t reach the inbox of your members are a result of your own sender score, the reputation you have as an email marketer. This score is mostly based on the number of people who mark your email as SPAM which is why it is paramount that your list be made up of people who really want to hear from you. The other 17% of the undeliverable mail is the result of poor content and keyword stuffing.
Just What The Doctor Ordered: Fixing Email List Health Issues
A mailing list that’s grown out of control can happen to this best of us. Read this case study about Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, who took control over this list and whipped it onto shape! The key element you need for a vibrant, naturally growing and money-making list is engagement. Why waste time marketing to people who are no longer interested? Periodically you need to remove bad email addresses and request inactive members to re-subscribe. This will greatly improve your sender score, leading to more opened emails and eventually to more sales. Once you have a healthy list built on relationships, with easy exits and a robust open rate, you will truly appreciate the potential email marketing has in store for you. Healthy relationships with customers that are based on mutual respect and understanding will sure help you avoid spending too much time on email list cleaning. The principle “prevention is better then cure” is still applicable here.