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Email Marketing: Avoid Sending to an Old Email List

Aug 28 2009, 02:02 AM

It is very common for companies to slowly and steadily gather email addresses on their websites from the very first day. The problem here is they are so busy collecting these addresses that they fail to use them. The reasons for not contacting those email addresses immediately could range from companies not knowing how to send marketing messages to not having the time to contact their addresses. Whatever the reason, these companies tend to hold on to their collection and do nothing - till one fine day, a year or more later.

At some point in the future these companies suddenly wake up and decide to inaugurate their massive collection of addresses, compiled lovingly through the years. Unfortunately, when they start emailing their list they do not get back very loving replies. Why? Because the email addresses, and the permission that was given with them, has an expiry period. After holding on to addresses for more than 12 months and doing nothing, you no longer have the right to send these addresses your campaign newsletters. If you do suddenly blast them with newsletters – you are heading for some serious trouble.

Take a look at some of the trouble you are headed for:

You will get accused of sending spam
Your customers visited your store, bought something and left. Some of them signed up to your email list. Now 12 months later you set up a brilliant email marketing system and send them sudden and frequent newsletters. Will they be happy to receive your numerous newsletters? Would they remember ever visiting your store? The answer to both is No. The recipients of your newsletters would in all likelihood wonder who you are and how you got their email address, and then complain that you are sending them spam. This is also the right path to getting blacklisted.
Your mails will rapidly bounce back

When you send newsletters to email addresses that are more than 12 months old you will notice that a lot of your mails come bouncing back. There are a lot of reasons for this:

  The email address may no longer exist: When this happens you should remove the address from your list. Unfortunately, if too many messages bounce you may not have the time to rectify your list as your Internet service provider may think you are sending spam and take action. To remain above the blacklist radar you need to ensure that you do not exceed a bounce rate of 10%.
   
  The address has been redirected: This could happen when a person switches jobs, or when an account is cancelled. In either case, there is a good chance that someone new will receive your newsletter. This new person has no idea that the person the newsletter was intended for had subscribed to it; this person will therefore complain that the newsletter is spam.
   
  The address has become a spam trap: Addresses that are very old are sometimes turned into spam traps. These are dangerous as sending marketing mails to these addresses have a huge adverse affect on deliverability and result in making your email service provider quite irritated.
You may get blacklisted
After being accused of sending spam and having your emails bounce back you now discover that you have been blacklisted by all the big Internet service providers (ISPs). This is due to a combination of people forgetting that they had signed up for your newsletter, people changing their email addresses and you walking into spam traps. Most of these issues may not be your fault, but the end result is that your mails have been bouncing and people have been making spam complaints. To your ISPs, you are using a list that is old, dirty or has been bought. This leads to your ISPs blocking you which in turn leads to your email service provider shutting down your account.


So the basic fact is, if you want to save yourself the head ache of going through all these issues, make sure you clean your list regularly and remove all old and outdated email addresses. If you must use email addresses that are older than 12 months, make sure you re-introduce yourself and remind the recipient how you got their email address. You can also ask them to either sign up again, or you can ask them to use the unsubscribe link in your very first mail, if they are no longer interested. This helps getting rid of those addresses that can cause you problems later on.

Posted in Deliverability, Lists & Signup Forms

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