Deliverability Reminders: List Hygiene
This is one of those areas that people really don't like!!!
We've grown accustomed to thinking that our list size is everything, so when it comes to cleaning it up (and possibly purging subscribers), it's not always a fun conversation!
However, it's one of the single biggest areas in which we can improve deliverability.
Most marketers are fine with removing bad addresses and hard bounces. But what about the email addresses that aren't bouncing? Where do you draw the line with those folks and at what point are they impacting your deliverability and overall results?
Unfortunately, there is no black and white area. There's a whole lot of shades of gray in there! So, it comes down to testing and testing and testing some more and then sticking to a plan (and occasionally reverifying).
First and foremost:
1. Remove all bad addresses and hard bounces (If you're using the new email software, in our network, or using Ontraport, then this is done for you automatically)
2. Remove soft bounces that fail 3 times in a 7 day period (i.e. full mailboxes, domain unknown, etc.)
Here's where it gets a little trickier!
Let's say you have a list of 100,000 people, and you have an about 50K that are opening some number of messages at least occasionally. That leaves about 50,000 subscribers that you'll want to address.
In a perfect world, you'd simply clean out anyone that hasn't opened an email in the last 90 days and remove them from your list.
However, we realize that 99% of people won't do that, so there are some options to help improve list hygiene without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
1. Run an analysis of your data to determine when people start to lose interest. When we consult on email marketing programs, we look at the whole picture and see at what point people start to drop off (i.e. average # of days of engagement) and then work backwards to try to slowly increase that time of engagement.
2. Work to tweak your messaging starting 10-14 days before the average fall off.
3. Set up automatic re-engagement campaigns for people that haven't opened a message in 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days (and possibly 180 depending on your list)
4. For those that still remain unengaged, try to connect with them on social media, via direct mail or some other marketing method (if it makes sense to your bottom line to do so).
5. At the VERY least, drop the frequency of communication to those unengaged people to once, MAYBE twice a month (assuming you are sending multiple times per week regularly).
Ultimately, you're going to want to see what works for you and your business model, but the main takeaway here is that you simply can't continue to mail to unengaged subscribers in perpetuity and NOT have your inbox placement affected.
1. Are all of your messages in autoresponders relevant, current and up to date?
A short while ago, we were working with a consulting client and went through all of her campaigns and messages. We discovered that some of them hadn't been changed in years and were no longer current (for example, she mentioned her boyfriend. When I mentioned I thought they were married, she was surprised! She said they'd been married for more than 7 years and have 2 boys together!) It's worth a once a year audit on all campaigns to make sure the messages are relevant, links are working, etc.
2. Are you subscribers crystal clear on what they are signing up for?
If they're signing up for a free video, then give them the video and don't automatically include them in a sales pitch promo 7 days a week... Let them opt-in for the additional emails.
- You can offer a special one click link in the welcome message with the video link that automatically tags them and allows additional messages.
- Offer an internal co-reg option where they check boxes for the different subscriptions they want to access.
3. Does your opt-in follow up sequence have a process to gather additional information that you can use to better segment your list?
Consider gathering useful information in the form of short surveys, action tracking, and more. Then, use this to carefully craft sequences and broadcasts for various segments in your list.
Ultimately, you want to create a smooth process for your subscribers, set clear expectations, find ways to engage them with content that they want to receive, and ultimately exchange value (i.e. you provide them with information and opportunities that they want and they, in turn, pay you for products, services, consulting, etc.)
For over a decade Heather Seitz used email marketing to build successful companies and had to solve the biggest barrier to consistent profitability: deliverability. Today, she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Email Delivered.
For more information on how list hygiene affects deliverability, visit http://www.emaildelivered.com/deliverability-list-hygiene/ . Remember to sign up for the FREE Email Delivered Pulse newsletter for articles, tips, and recommended resources for email marketers.
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