Email List Management: It’s Time to Clean House

September 01, 2016   /   by  Diane Callihan

Kiss Your Messy Email List Goodbye

Many people think when it comes to your business’ email list, bigger is better.

To some extent that’s true, but only if you are talking about reaching more contacts in your target demographic who are interested in your products and services. You don’t want to be emailing people who are not in your industry, not interested in your product, not in a position to buy, not using that email address anymore, or who are unemployed and living in their parent’s basement.

Emailing those people will waste your time, annoy some folks and seriously mess with your stats.

So if you want to improve your delivery rates, open rates and click-through rates, while reducing bounces and unsubscribes, it’s important to regularly clean house. Here are some tips to help you keep your email list in tip-top shape.

Audit Your Database to Determine Lead Engagement

Regularly audit your database to check how active your subscribers are. What percentage of subscribers open or click on your emails? Over time, the needs of your subscribers can change. When engagement levels drop, it’s time to review your content. Make sure it is relevant and engaging.

Try to determine why engagement has dropped. Are you sending a one-size-fits-all content or tailoring it to your segmented lists? Are your email templates optimized for mobile?

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Consider reaching out to subscribers and asking them to update their email interests/preferences. You can also offer a brief survey to your leads to help you learn more about their current state.

Additionally, you may want to take a more direct approach and generate a list of everyone in your database who has not opened an email from you over the past 6 months (or whatever time frame seems reasonable based on how frequently you send email). If someone has not even opened an email from you after numerous attempts, they may no longer be at that address or may not be interested.

You can send out an email to this group letting them know that unless they hear otherwise from them, you’ll be removing them from your list. (Note, this tactic has proven effective for getting people to re-engage.)

Obviously, unsubscribes should automatically be removed from your list, as well as hard bounces. Most email programs will also remove contacts after a certain number of soft bounces has been reached.

Go through this assessment and clean-up process on a regular basis to keep your email list optimized.

Have an Onboarding Plan for New Subscribers

Make sure that you know what your email subscribers are interested in from the get-go, so you can provide them with content they are interested in. This means knowing your subscribers beyond their email addresses and names.

One way to learn about your audience is to identify their preferences and interests. For instance, when leads sign up, send them a welcome message with a link where they can update their profile. In the profile management area, ask them what products or services they are interested in most.

From the information you get, you can better target your future messages to keep them engaged and make them less likely to unsubscribe.

Use Alternative Ways of Staying in Touch

Just because someone has unsubscribed from your list does not mean they do not entirely want anything to do with your company. For example, some subscribers may simply want to update their communication preferences or change their email address. Others may prefer your communication on social media rather than through email. Make sure you provide alternative ways of staying in touch. Include links to your social media channels and blog subscribe links on your emails. Moreover, make it easy for contacts to update their preferences or completely unsubscribe.

While no business likes to see people unsubscribe, consider that they are helping you clean your list, which will perform better if it’s full of people who want to hear from you.

Want to take your email marketing to the next level? That’s just one of things we’re really good at. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.