Your email list and the way you maintain it is one of the biggest factors affecting your email deliverability. Keeping a clean mailing list and following good list management protocols is imperative to engaging your subscribers and keeping a good sender reputation.
People change their email addresses often, on an average of once a year so it is important that you make sure to remove old and abandoned email addresses from your list as those will result in hard bounces that will decrease your deliverability and engagement.
Likewise, subscribers may lose interest in your emails and they may not want to receive them anymore. As a result, they unsubscribe. Unsubscribes must be suppressed and will also affect your deliverability and engagement so periodically remove those as well. However, if there is no easy way to unsubscribe and the email recipient gets frustrated they may report you as spam which is devastating for your sender reputation.
Keeping a clean list starts with how you acquire your subscribers. One of the best practices for maintaining a clean list is the opt-in feature. If you only email people who have signed up to receive your emails then the likelihood of bounces and unsubscribes decreases significantly. In some countries, like Canada with the CASL law, not only is an opt-in required but consent from the subscriber must be given to send them emails.
Best practice for the opt-in is the double opt-in where the subscriber signs up you then send them an email asking for them to confirm with just a click of a button. This further ensures that the subscriber indeed wants your emails.
Even though it may be hard to lose potential leads and customers, maintaining your email list is a necessary evil. You should be purging your email list on a quarterly basis at minimum. Here are some options on how to keep your mailing list clean:
- Remove stagnant emails from your mailing list (i.e. emails that have not engaged in 12 months)
- Send out a re-engagement email with offers or a messaging warning of subscription expiration
- Remove administrative emails like "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org"
- Monitor your feedback loops so that people who complain can immediately be removed.
Before your purge your lists you may want to try re-engaging your inactive subscribers by using strategy to entice them back into the fold. Some re-engagement messages alert the subscriber that their subscription is expiring while others use offers and deals to entice them to re-engage. This will ensure that you don’t remove anyone who isn’t ready to leave your mailing list. It also helps you to easily identify spam addresses and abandoned addresses.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to consider when building and maintaining your email list:
- Do have a double opt-in process for onboarding new contacts
- Do encourage your contacts to add you to their address book
- Do create sign-up forms that allow subscribers to indicate their interests
- Do have an easy opt-out/subscribe feature
- Don’t send to unsuspecting recipients
- Don’t buy email lists
- Don’t send too more emails than your subscribers can handle.
So, make sure to keep your mailing lists clean and up to date. Your sender reputation depends on it!