As every experienced integrated marketer knows, a well-groomed email list, filled with engaged subscribers who don’t automatically hit delete on your emails, is worth its weight in gold. And as necessary as email list hygiene is, if your routine consists of going into your database on a quarterly period and purging inactives – you’re doing it wrong!
Good list hygiene is an active practice that starts long before you hit the ‘send’ button. This post contains some of the obvious best practices, including when (and why) you should scrub your list, and tips to fill it with more quality subscribers.
Produce High Quality, Trustworthy Emails
The best way to make sure your list is populated with legitimate prospects you want to engage with your business is to send communications that add value and clearly represent your brand and offerings.
Start with a strong subject line that accurately describes the contents of the email. It’s OK to sound intriguing and tease the excitement, but it’s not OK to lie or flagrantly misrepresent what’s in the email.
The email itself should be well-written, filled with useful information, and contain an offer that motivates your audience to take action, whether it’s going to your website to make a purchase, watch a video, or download a whitepaper.
Including a physical address associated with your business is another way to establish that all-important trust and avoid having your emails flagged as spam.
Make It Easy to Opt-In and Opt-Out
Send a confirmation when someone subscribes to your list to make sure their email is legitimate and they really want to receive your communications. And, conversely, your emails should contain clear instructions for unsubscribing: you don’t want your readers to feel like hostages whose only resort is to report your emails as spam.
Send Re-Engagement Emails
Also, occasionally send re-engagement emails to reconfirm that your audience still wants to receive your emails and that their email address is up to date. Let them customize their subscription by telling you which types of communications they wish to receive, and how often. These emails are especially effective for activating inactive subscribers.
Resist the Temptation to Buy Lists
Thinking of buying an email list? Think again. At best, lists purchased from third-party vendors can be costly. The medium-level risk is that your competitors may have bought the same list. And the worst-case but highly plausible scenario is that your sender reputation takes a knock and you find yourself slapped with fines for violating the CAN-SPAM act.
Finally, Go in and Scrub Your Database
Purging your database is still a must. If you’re staying on top of your email metrics, you should have a good sense of when it’s time to go in and ruthlessly purge the inactive, unengaged, or spammy email addresses. One easy way is to look at the results of your past few email campaigns: if you see a pattern of declining open or click-through rates, it may be time for a purge. You should also look for big, obvious, red flags, such as higher-than-usual unsubscribe rates, spam complaints, and the number of hard bounces.
Depending on the email service you use, you could automate the purge, and there are a variety of online tools you can buy. But doing it by hand allows you to go in and fix obvious errors – for example, entries like [name]@gmial.com, which is probably a typo for Gmail.
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