5 tips to keep your email list clean
Email databases naturally degrade each year. If you think about it, this is not that surprising. Email addresses change, as well as the interests of your subscriber base. If you want to maintain a good sender reputation and deliverability rate, it is important to regularly maintain the quality of your email list by applying proper list hygiene. List hygiene is the process you undertake to ensure that the email addresses in your list consist of active and real subscribers that are ready to engage with your content. In this blog we'll discuss why it is so important to maintain proper list hygiene and what you can do to attain that.
The importance of good list hygiene
As you might know by now, Mailbox Providers are making sure that their users receive the emails that they want to receive and prevent them from receiving unwanted emails. To decide whether your email is allowed in the inbox, they look at your sending behavior and they monitor bounces, spam complaints, opens, clicks, unsubscribe and inactivity. If many of your emails get marked as spam, don't get opened and read or do not arrive at all due to for example a wrong email address, this all negatively affects your deliverability rate. Luckily there are some things that you can do to prevent this.
1. Be clear about what subscribers can expect from you during their registration
It all starts from the beginning, in how you collect email addresses for your list. Setting the right expectations from the start regarding the frequency and content of your emails will help you to collect email addresses from subscribers that know and understand what they sign up for and this will prevent spam complaints later down the road.
2. Use double opt-in
Another step you can undertake to make sure that the people in your list really wanted to sign up for your email list in the first place is to use a double opt-in. With a double opt-in, new subscribers have to confirm their registration. This prevents others from signing them up for your list without them knowing about it and enables them to opt-out early when they have changed their minds. It also prevents non-existing email addresses to be registered, for example by spammers or when a subscriber (unknowingly) makes a spelling mistake.
Although double opt-in can decrease the number of registrations (it means there is an extra threshold after all..) in the long run, it can be beneficial to your deliverability. You see, confirmed subscribers are less likely to report your emails as spam and more likely to engage with your emails. So you can be more certain that you will send your emails to people who want to receive them.
3. Set up an email welcome flow after subscription and closely monitor engagement
A welcome flow warms your subscribers up for your email newsletters. The welcome flow is aimed at slowly introducing your brand to the new subscriber and letting them get acquainted with your emails over a period of time. Besides the fact that it does just that, deploying a welcome flow also has another important benefit: The engagement that a subscriber has with your welcome campaign is namely predictive of the involvement a subscriber will have with your future emails, so deploying a welcome campaign can be beneficial for the customer's future engagement and interaction. However, like mentioned before, it also provides a valuable insight into the customer's future engagement. If someone doesn't open your emails from a welcome flow, you can for example split your email list between customers who are very involved and customers who are less involved and send content based on that.
4. Re-engage inactive customers with an email campaign
Before you continue to weed out all inactive email addresses from your email list, you can first try to awaken inactive subscribers with a re-engagement campaign which is aimed to make sleeping subscribers engage with your brand again. Unfortunately, it's the reality that some subscribers turn inactive after some time - or even already from the start as we discussed in the previous section. There could be different reasons for this. For example, they've lost interest, they don't recognize the value that your product offers, they've found an alternative solution, they've moved to another company etc. In a re-engagement campaign you can adjust the content of further emails so that you can send less involved customers an incentive for example to get them involved again (by means of an extra discount code or so). Also offer a way out for people who are not interested anymore so they can unsubscribe from your list themselves.
5. Make sure to properly process your bounce messages
Sometimes your emails don't arrive at the recipient's mail server at all which can result in a hard bounce. The best thing you can do in this case is to remove all the email addresses that result in these hard bounces. When you receive a hard bounce it means that an email could not be delivered to a subscriber due to a permanent reason which can, for instance, be caused by a fake, misspelt or non-existent email address. If you prolongedly ignore these hard bounces and keep sending emails to the respective email address it can be detrimental to your deliverability and even result in a block from the receiving mail server.
Practising list hygiene is important to maintain good email deliverability - these steps will help you with that. Maintaining a clean list is a continuous process that needs to be practised regularly and requires appropriate timing and planning. Fortunately, your MTA often has tools in place that can make this easier for you and can help prevent deliverability damages that are caused by a temporary “unclean” email list. With MailerQ's Suppression List you can for example suppress delivery attempts to faulty domains which are caused by common typos such as “hotmai.com” instead of “hotmail.com” or non-existent email addresses.
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