Most of us know that building our email list is important, but many people focus too much on growth and wind up neglecting maintenance. Email marketing campaigns aren’t ‘one and done,’ and neither is your list.
Just like your home, your body, and your relationships, your email list requires upkeep to stay healthy. Regular review and revision of your list is key to ensuring that all the right people are receiving your messages in their inboxes — instead of their spam folders.
Why Maintenance Matters
A healthy, up-to-date email list is worth the time it takes to maintain.
In addition to weeding out disinterested parties (and therefore improving your conversion rate), the quality of your email marketing list is crucial to your deliverability. The presence of unsafe or typo-filled email addresses on your list is one of the top ways to hurt your deliverability, and the lower your engagement, the more likely your messages will land in spam.
Strategies for Keeping Your Email List Healthy
Now that you understand the importance of maintaining a healthy list, here are some of our favorite ways to do it!
1. Get Explicit Consent
Whether or not it’s mandated by law, getting permission from your subscribers to email them has always been an email marketing best practice. Keeping your list limited to people who’ve agreed to be on it fosters brand loyalty and keeps your unsubscribe rate low. Plus, engagement is likely to be higher since your subscribers know your email is coming and have already demonstrated interest in your content.
The best way to make sure your subscribers have consented to receive your emails is to gather their contact information through opt-in forms — better yet, why not use a double opt-in, where users must confirm their email address by clicking a link in the confirmation message?
2. Keep it Organic
When you’re building a list from nothing, it can be tempting to buy lists of email addresses to get you started, but that’s a mistake. Sending emails to people who haven’t signed up for them is not only risky for compliance reasons but can also harm your brand and negatively affect your campaign results in ways that take much longer to fix than it would have taken to build organically.
On an individual level, leads are less likely to even open your emails unless it’s to unsubscribe, and when they realize you’ve been messaging them without their consent, they’re likely to associate your brand with unethical practices.
On a broader level, your engagement numbers will be very low, to say nothing of your conversion rate, and you might even get flagged as spam. Plus, if you were able to buy these contacts, so was everyone else, which means you’ll just be one of a bunch of businesses vying for the user’s attention.
3. Get Your Spring (and Summer, and Fall…) Cleaning On
Starting right with organic signups from people who are genuinely interested in your brand will save you a ton of time in the long run — but regular clean-ups will still be necessary.
It’s a good idea to schedule your maintenance and designate one or two people to be responsible for it, to ensure it doesn’t fall through the cracks. Once a quarter, twice a year, or whenever works for your team, check your list for email addresses that have the scent of spam on them and scrub any contacts who aren’t opening or engaging with your messages.
“To keep our list healthy and up to date, we do not send an email to someone who does not open our emails three times in a row. We try to reactivate their interest in our brand by sending another email that is personalized and has an amazing offer,” says Brad Smith from Wordable. Implementing this tactic keeps their list clean, affirms their real target audience, doesn’t negatively impact their open rates and CTRs, and reduces the chances of their emails being caught by spam filters.
This regular maintenance also gives you a chance to identify any potential issues in your process. Look for things like email blacklisting or spam traps you’re unknowingly setting, optimize your email segmentation, and make sure you’re providing subscribers a clear way to opt out.
4. Outsource Your Verification
If you have a large list, you probably can’t take the time to go through every contact and make sure the address is correct and safe. This is where email verification tools come in handy — some email marketing platforms, like Benchmark, offer this tool as part of their paid packages, but you can also find a third-party service.
These services take a representative sample of your list and run the addresses through email validation software, then they report back to you with information on which addresses are invalid or risky. It’s a quick way to clean up your list of unsavory contacts.
In addition to keeping your list healthy and effective, list management and assessment also help you see which contacts might be ripe for re-engagement, giving you the opportunity to catch them before they churn for good.
Just like an apple tree, your email list needs regular pruning to bear fruit. Keeping it up-to-date and free of pests will yield delicious results!