Now is a perfect time to get your email list into shape. Why? Well, just like our bodies can’t function at optimal levels if we don’t take care of them, our email lists can also suffer if they are not getting the attention they need.
A clean, up-to-date email list is critical to the effectiveness of your campaigns, and to ensuring that you’re getting the best possible results. Once your list is in good shape, with a little ongoing maintenance, you’ll see improved delivery, response, and conversion rates — and a better-looking bottom line.
If you’re already a Net Atlantic customer, you may know that our email marketing software automatically updates your list every time you send. It keeps track of successful sends, bounces, unsubscribes, deferrals, failed attempts, and more. Your mail server will make many attempts to deliver your message to all of your subscribers, and only after several failed delivery attempts will it automatically put a subscriber into “held” status.
That said, there are still things that you can do as a list owner, above and beyond what the software does automatically, to get your list into tip-top shape. Here are some ways to tune up your list, improve engagement and interactivity, and get better results from your email marketing efforts.
- Send a brief survey to find out exactly what kind of content your recipients want to receive. You can also ask them why they may have not engaged with your email in a while. Maybe they are no longer interested in your products or services. Or maybe it’s just a matter of tweaking your content to make it more compelling. Sending a survey will eliminate some of the guesswork about why these subscribers have become inactive, and will help you improve your email campaigns going forward, too.
- Encourage sharing, forwarding, etc. ISPs give increased relevance and mail quality rankings to email that gets shared and forwarded. So put your best stuff in your newsletter, and encourage your subscribers to forward it to a friend.
- Ask for feedback by encouraging your subscribers to respond directly to your email message. This helps you establish a nice dialog with your subscribers, and as a result, your inboxing and engagement rates will improve. A simple “Tell us what you think” or “Disagree with us? Tell us why…” can get people to start interacting with you.
- Create segments and fine-tune your content accordingly. If your subscribers are interested in different things, sending the same email to all of them is not going to be as effective as you’d like. So it makes sense to segment your list based on the specific interests, behaviors, and/or actions of your audience. For example, if you sell pet supplies, cat owners who subscribe to your list aren’t going to be interested in the new dog food you’re promoting. In fact, those cat people are probably going to ignore or delete your email without even opening it. This is important to note, since many ISPs track engagement as a way to determine whether your emails end up in the spam folder instead of the inbox. Moral of the story: the more specific your segments are, the more targeted you can make your content, and the more likely your subscribers will be to open your messages. They’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and they’ll feel compelled to engage.
- Run a “win-back” campaign. You’ve probably seen these in your own inbox on occasion. The subject line might say “We miss you!”, or offer a discount as an incentive for you to open the mail and hopefully make a purchase. They can be very effective, especially if you have something unique or valuable to offer. When done right, these campaigns remind your subscribers about why they signed up for your list in the first place.
- Send a “last chance” email. Just put it right out there. Let your inactive subscribers know that you’ve noticed that they seem to have lost interest over the last several months. Give them a chance to show you that they still want to hear from you by giving them a link to click, or another opportunity to engage with your message.
One Last Thing…
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Have you ever received mail from a company or organization, even after you thought you unsubscribed? Are you just having a déjà vu moment, or has there been a “glitch in the matrix”?
When this happens to one of your email recipients, they might think that your organization didn’t honor their unsubscribe request, which can result in your email being marked as spam, or even a direct abuse desk complaint being made against you. Trust me, legitimate direct abuse desk complaints are taken very seriously, and carry a lot of weight.
Are these continued mailings really the result of senders or ESPs not honoring an unsubscribe request? Yes and no! Let me explain…
Last week, we talked about how important it is to have more than one email list administrator. This week, we’ll discuss some ways to actively manage your list admins, so you have more control over your email marketing program – and fewer issues.
As far as we’re concerned, more administrators do not equal more problems – especially when you take the following steps!
Here’s a situation our support team runs across from time to time: A client calls us in a panic because her email list has been deleted, and she doesn’t know it happened or who was responsible. What a nightmare! But it doesn’t have to happen to you. There are some simple preventative measures you can take to avoid a similar scenario.
Lionel Richie asked this question (well sort of) back in the ’80s, with his heartstring-tugging hit song Hello.
And you could ask the same question of your subscribers. You know, the ones who haven’t opened one of your mailings in a while. Or the ones who haven’t engaged with you in a way that shows they’re still interested.
Addresses from dead domains are like zombies. They exist in your list and look kind of like the real thing (i.e., valid addresses that you can send to). They may have been on your list for a long time, maybe since you started collecting addresses way back when. But, like zombies, they are mere shadows of their former selves.
When compliance folks like me talk about dead domains, we are referring to addresses within a sender’s list that are from domains which are no longer in business, or are no longer providing mail client services. Having addresses from these domains on a mailing list is an indication to any good compliance specialist that the list is in dire need of clean-up, or that the list owner may have purchased addresses. Neither of these scenarios is good for the client’s sender reputation, nor the ESP’s overall reputation.
Ah, spring… The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and new life is emerging everywhere. Apologies for getting all poetic – winters are very long here in New England, so we get a little overexcited when spring finally arrives.
Since it’s the season of renewal and fresh starts, it’s a perfect time to take a look at your email marketing program and plant the seeds for growth and new business. And, as you might suspect, it starts with your email list!
Blackjack is a staple at any casino, and it’s a game in which skill and luck both play equal parts. Skill and a little bit of luck are needed in email marketing, too. For example, why take a chance on your email address collection process when you can improve your own odds by using a double opt-in sign up method whenever you can? See what I did there…cards and contacts? Tricky!
Seriously, though: The definition of doubling down is “to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking”. And this is how everyone should approach email address collection. Why?
Remember that slightly embarrassing email address you created back in 1995? The one that was a combination of your astrology sign, your birthday and some other cute innuendo? Yeah, that one. You’re probably not using it anymore, but that doesn’t mean that AOL (or any other email service) isn’t still accepting email at that address!
How can this be? Well, your old email address might now be a Spam Trap.
Verizon recently sent a letter to its customers stating that they would deactivate any email accounts that had not been active within the last 180 days (6 months). After that, any messages sent to these email addresses will bounce. But there’s more to this story.