Today, we will discuss the importance of maintaining your email marketing list and some key tips on how to do it.
The Importance of Maintaining Your Email Marketing List
Email list maintenance, better known as list hygiene, is a crucial part of your email marketing efforts. Without it, your email marketing campaigns will not deliver the results you seek or any sustainable, long-term growth.
When you first start out with email marketing for your business or brand, the first, most important thing you have to do is grow your email list. Get as many customers, prospects, and website visitors to sign up and subscribe to your email list.
This task requires many different lead magnets and tactics to get people to subscribe. However, simply growing your email list does not guarantee email marketing success. It is only the first crucial step in a long list of efforts.
The key step is to make sure that your subscribers are not just signing up, but are opening your emails and consuming your content. You will never be able to meet this email marketing objective if your emails are not being delivered to their inboxes.
Delivering to inboxes can be tricky. Moreover, once the emails are delivered, your subscribers need to open them, which is another obstacle. While these obstacles are real, you shouldn't let them distract you from your email marketing goals.
There are obstacles in any venture, and you need to find a way around them. Lucky for you, there are tried and tested solutions to the mentioned obstacles in the form of email list maintenance or hygiene, which we will dive deeper into ahead.
For now, you must understand that email deliverability and open rate are the key factors that make maintaining your email list so important. But what exactly are email deliverability and open rate?
- Email Deliverability
- Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails or email marketing campaigns to your subscribers' inboxes. It is one of many crucial markers of the success of any email marketing campaign.
- Email Open Rate
- Email open rate is the percentage of subscribers that open an email you send them out of the total number of subscribers you sent that particular email to. It is also a crucial marker for email marketing campaign success.
These two key markers of campaign success are why you need a clean, well-maintained email list. Email marketing lists not maintained or cleaned will result in poor deliverability and open rates, which lead to a bad "sender reputation" for your business or brand.
How Email Service Providers Use This Information
Email service providers pick up on these markers and further deter your email marketing campaign efforts because the markers show your emails are not being received well by users. This flags your emails as spam, and your deliverability goes further down, diminishing any favorable results you saw previously.
For example, a big chunk of your email list subscribers are people who subscribe and lose interest quite early on. This means they will stop opening your emails to consume the content you provide. Keeping such subscribers in your email list is harmful to your overall email marketing efforts.
First, they bring your open rates down, then they hurt your email deliverability, and ultimately your brand's reputation. Keeping them on may grow your email list but it isn't doing you or your business any good.
Email service providers will pick up on user lack of interest, especially if users start deleting your emails from their inboxes. This will force the email service provider to stop delivering your emails to their inboxes and land them in their spam or junk mail instead.
This is because providers want to offer a better user experience, and to do this, they pay attention to their users' preferences. They only want to deliver the emails they think their users want to receive, open, and read.
The rest gets redirected to their spam or junk boxes. For this purpose, they keep a close eye on user activities like open rates, the number of replies, users unsubscribing, sender reputation, messages being marked as spam or junk, and many other markers.
What Maintaining Your Email List Does
Maintaining or cleaning your email list regularly by removing disinterested subscribers and other such maintenance practices can help your email marketing strategy, brand, and business in multiple ways.
- Results in good email deliverability
- Increases your open rates
- Reduces bounce rates
- Improves your sender reputation/ score
- Improves your brand reputation
- Improves customer engagement and conversions
- Keeps your email list relevant and healthy
- Offers better results from your email marketing campaigns
These beneficial reasons are why it is so important to maintain your email marketing list. It is recommended that you clean or "trim" your email marketing list at least 2-3 times a year. This includes removing inactive and uninterested subscribers, implementing robust subscriber acquisition, and keeping subscribers engaged.
It is always best to check now and then if your current subscribers are still interested in your emails. It isn't uncommon for even the most engaged subscribers to suddenly lose interest in your emails and their contents, resulting in disengagement.
Naturally, these subscribers also harm the performance of your email list and marketing campaigns, and you should remove them when they become uninterested. Such strategies can help you maintain a healthy and clean email list.
Tips to Maintain Your Email Marketing List
Here are some tried and tested tips and solutions to help you keep your email deliverability, open rates, reputation, and email marketing list in top shape.
Remove Inactive Subscribers (Re-Engagement Email)
You will always encounter inactive subscribers when you go through your email marketing list. These are subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in a long time or haven’t clicked on any of the links in your emails.
These subscribers are no good for your email marketing efforts, and it's better to let them go rather than keeping them around. However, you must never remove them from your mailing list without first sending them a re-engagement email with a notification.
After all, they did subscribe to your list, and it wouldn't be right just to remove them without a last chance. A re-engagement email gives them another chance to remain on your list if they are genuinely interested.
Maybe they were busy and couldn't find the time to open and read your emails. A good re-engagement email confronts possible issues that the subscriber may be having with your emails and lets them know that they are important for your brand, even if they aren't interested in emails anymore.
It gives them the option to opt out of the mailing list while reminding them why they signed up in the first place. Take this opportunity to ask for feedback regarding the emails as well. Try to learn and assess what made them disinterested in the first place.
Typically, there may be several reasons for inactivity, including:
- Irrelevant or poor quality content
- Infrequent emails that leave them wanting more content from you
- Your emails are promotional but don't add value for the subscriber
- They get better content from your competitors
These are just a few reasons, and there can be many others like these. Learn what they are and address the problems accordingly.
Send Emails From a Professional Email Address
It is convenient to use a specific email address when you first start your email marketing campaigns. However, this is not the best approach for any business or brand, no matter their size.
When subscribers receive welcome, promotional, or value-adding emails from an email address like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, they are instantly put off. It makes your business look unprofessional, undeveloped, or worse, malicious.
It can hurt your open rates and the overall performance of your email marketing campaigns. Instead, you should use a professional email address for your campaigns, with a domain ending in your brand's name like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not only does it make your business email look reliable and professional, but it also complies with the message authentication protocol known as DMARC. This authentication protocol is designed to give you complete authority over your business email domain.
So, no outside party can use your brand name or domain to send unauthorized emails or deceive customers, prospects, and the general public. This practice is commonly known in the tech world as email spoofing.
Any spammer trying to mask their email with your brand name will not be able to send emails directly to people's inboxes.
For example, if they try to use a similar email address to yours, like email@example.com, Google may recognize them as imposters and redirect their emails to recipients' spam folders. DMARC helps ensure that malicious parties online do not hurt your email marketing list and campaigns.
Segment Your Email Marketing List
If you don't want to remove some inactive subscribers, segmenting them is an alternative option. Move them to an "inactive" segment of your email list, where you only send them the best content, offers, and discounts before eventually sending them a re-engagement email.
You may want to reduce the number of monthly emails that you send to this inactive segment and only send them relevant and favorable content when needed. Try this approach for some time to see if their open rates and engagement improve.
You can then remove the completely inactive ones (after re-engagement email), and keep the ones that show interest. Of course, if they are engaging actively, you will want to remove them from the inactive segment.
Your email marketing campaigns will never succeed unless you send the right email to the right person. Similarly, your sender reputation and score can be negatively impacted if you send the wrong emails to the wrong person.
Correct email list segmentation can help you target the right audiences. Whether you segment your email marketing list according to subscriber activity, purchase history, engagement level, interests, or geographic location, you must carefully send the right emails to the right segment.
For example, if you send a promotional email for fine wines to recipients in a region where alcohol is banned, you won't receive the best results. On the contrary, you may offend a few subscribers and hurt your brand reputation and business.
These subscribers may opt out of your mailing list, or worse, mark your emails as spam or junk. Hence, you should always check twice before sending emails and target them correctly.
Be Mindful of Your Subject Lines
We all know that content is king, and it is what keeps your subscribers engaged. However, your emails can have the best content in the world, and it will never amount to anything unless your subscribers open your emails.
A key reason for this is that the subject lines of your emails are not compelling enough. They do not entice your subscribers to click and open your emails. Weak subject lines hurt the open rates of your email marketing campaigns.
Try to craft well-thought-out subject lines that are concise, clear, and provoke curiosity in the reader. Try to give them enough information in the subject line that they want to open the email, but not enough that they don't need to.
However, you must be mindful not use clickbait because that will only result in the reader being disappointed when they consume the actual content. This will break trust and result in them never wanting to open another one of your emails.
Steer Clear of Spam Filters
By now, it should be clear why your emails must avoid ending up in spam filters. It can quickly and easily hurt your sender's reputation, deliverability, brand, and overall marketing performance. So, you must steer clear of spam filters.
If your email subject lines seem highly promotional, have many exclamation marks, grammatical errors, or spelling mistakes, subscribers may see it as spam and mark it as such. The same goes for subject lines that are written in all caps.
Always try to avoid generic opening statements like "Hello there" or "Hey pal ."Similarly, if you use names in your subject lines, make sure they are spelled correctly. Correct targeting also plays a huge role in preventing your emails from being marked as spam.
For example, if a subscriber only understands English and you send them an email in Spanish, they won't understand it and quickly mark it as a spam email or delete it from their inbox. Poor targeting is not only bad for your email marketing campaigns, but it is also a waste of your time, energy, and resources.
Personalization is a powerful email marketing tactic, and it can be very useful for open rates and subscriber engagement. It makes your subscribers feel that the emails you send them are personally crafted for them.
It allows you to maintain your email list because your subscribers remain active and engaged. So instead of using "Dear Customer," in the subject lines of your emails, you can use your subscribers' names. This will automatically increase the likelihood of them opening your emails.
Similarly, you can personalize your content too. Send relevant content to the right segment to engage them, add value, and enrich their overall experience.
Another benefit of personalization is improved email deliverability. When recipients see their names in the subject line of emails, they understand that it isn't spam because spam emails are rarely personalized.
Never Buy Email Marketing Lists
On your email marketing journey, you might come across marketers or vendors that tempt you to buy large email lists at "incredibly low" prices. You may think it is an excellent deal that will help you overcome the first obstacle of email marketing - gathering emails and subscribers.
Many businesses make this mistake, especially those freshly starting to explore and implement email marketing. You should never even consider buying an email list, no matter how tempting and beneficial it may seem.
These email lists are notorious for having incredibly poor hygiene. The email addresses on such lists are mostly inactive or not real humans. Moreover, they are not your target audience, nor have you spent the time and effort to segment them systematically.
These lists never produce good email marketing results and almost always hurt your deliverability, open rates, sender reputation, and campaign performance because they increase your spam complaints.
What's worse is that these "for sale" email marketing lists may also contain hidden spamtraps. A spamtrap is an email address that is created solely to lure spam. If you send regular emails to a spamtrap, it can rapidly destroy your sender reputation.
If an email list has multiple spamtraps, it can cut your email deliverability by a factor of 70-80 percent in a matter of weeks. There are solutions to undo such extensive damage, but why risk harming your sender score and brand reputation in the first place.
How Often Should You Clean Your Email Marketing List?
While email marketing list maintenance is a constant effort, a general rule of thumb is to clean and trim your list at least twice a year, especially before peak email marketing campaigns like during the holidays. However, there is no harm in cleaning your email list 4 or 5 times a year.
A good indicator that your email list requires a thorough cleaning at any time of year is when your open rates, click-through rates, and subscriber engagement start to decline. These markers indicate that many of your subscribers are inactive, uninterested, or disengaged.
When something like this happens, it is important to check if there is an increase in your unsubscribe rates or spam complaints. If so, you must act quickly to find the root cause and take steps to fix it immediately.
Email marketing has historically been the best digital marketing strategy, with the highest ROI, and it continues to do so in our modern world of social media and influencer marketing. It is an important part of any marketing strategy, and every modern business should take advantage of it.
However, it isn't always easy to execute and sustain, especially if you lack email marketing knowledge and experience. The mentioned tips and importance of maintaining your email marketing list are just a few key things that will help you with the health and performance of your email marketing list and campaigns. There are many more tips and solutions, which we can discuss another time.
For now, removing inactive subscribers from your email list a few times a year, improving targeting, crafting compelling subject lines, and avoiding spam, can allow you to reap the benefit of a healthy, well-maintained list.
It will improve your deliverability, open rates, sender reputation, brand reputation, customer engagement, and much more. Your email marketing campaigns will perform much better and propel your business to new heights.
Just remember never to purchase email marketing lists, send emails from a generic email address, or remove subscribers without a re-engagement email, and you should be fine at keeping your list healthy.
If you want to learn more about the importance of maintaining your email marketing list, tips, and solutions for it, or if you need help with the email marketing and management of your brand and email list, please visit our website today.