The question is often asked of when you should remove members off your email marketing list. It is an interesting question.
Email marketing lists are sometimes viewed with pride by the number of addresses you have. This has at times led to business leaders going out and buying email lists. There are many articles out there that will advise against this. A bought list can ruin your marketing opportunity as your mail will get reported as spam, be blocked and essentially your reputation will be hurt.
Although old subscribers are unlikely to report your mail as spam – they are a potential problem. Having too many contacts on your database can slow down the delivery rate of your emails to those who are interested in hearing from you and generally no matter which service you use – more email recipients will often mean more money.
Also a group of people with inactive accounts or who simply delete everything in their email inbox will distort your statistics. This will make it harder for you to determine whether or not your campaigns are working.
So to save costs and be more efficient in your email campaigns you should enforce a strict removal policy. But the question is open as to how long you should wait until you remove someone from your mailing list.
There are many points of view on this but there are probably a few key activities (or lack thereof) which should be good indicators to show when you should do this:
1. They’ve requested it
Sometimes people don’t realise that they can simply click on an unsubscribe button on your email to remove their names from your emailing list or something has gone wrong before and it didn’t work.
Therefore, if someone does send you an email requesting that you remove them from your list – the person in charge of the list should do so immediately.
2. You’ve been in regular contact with them before
Sometimes client – business relationships do not work out. There can be many reasons for this and neither party may be at fault. However, if this does happen it is highly unlikely that your old client is likely to want to hear from you on a regular basis. Therefore the best option would be to remove them from your mailing list. If they do want to keep in contact they can always re-subscribe.
3. They regularly bounce
If you have people on your email list who regularly soft bounce the emails you are sending them it could be an indication they are not looking in their email account anymore. This is not a wonder, 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months – therefore if they’re regularly bouncing it might be they have moved on from that address.
4. They hard bounce
Hard bounces are impossible to turn around. If you find that an email address is hard bouncing the emails you are sending, it is best that you cut your losses and delete the contact from your email list.
5. After a year of not opening your email
If you have been sending content regularly to an email address and they are not opening your email for a significant amount of time, then you should consider deleting them from the email list.
Not opening your email is a sign they are no longer interested in what you have to offer. The amount of time which passes before this happens is open for debate depending on your industry and how many emails you send out to your list.
However, the general rule of thumb is about one year.
Your email list is not about how many contacts you have on the list, but the quality of those contacts. By having a list of highly engaged contacts you can ensure the financial efficiency and strong reputation of your brand in your email marketing campaigns.
- Come up with a group of reasons to delete contacts from your email list.
- Go through your list and see if any contacts should be removed.
When do you remove subscribers from your emailing list?
Let us know in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Not every marketing email that you send out is appropriate for everyone on your subscription list. A message about a service that has already been bought is useless to one person while another consumer might enjoy that particular marketing message.
Sending the wrong message to certain consumers may damage your future online sales when people who feel there is no value in your messages unsubscribe. Therefore, it is important that you maintain an effective group of lists, segregating subscribers into the correct list depending on their history with your company.
1. Current clients
Your current clients are really important contacts to keep happy and nothing works better than word of mouth or referral marketing. They might also be interested in buying more products from you, especially if they had a positive experience with their previous purchase.
Therefore you can use your email marketing campaigns with current clients to spread the news of your products or services to people who have yet to hear about you and gain extra purchases.
You need to concentrate on sending messages that are going to be of use to the current client. Some of these messages may be rather simple service change notifications or other terms which will affect how they use your product / service. Alternatively you may wish to email them about complimentary services or products or something that will enhance their experience of your product.
Another email you could consider sending is a request to share information about your brand to their peers. Offering a deal, like a $10 voucher or a free month’s subscription, is a good way to encourage this behaviour.
2. Potential clients
Potential clients are an important list to curate into current clients. This list should have more specific targeting as you will likely, or should, have some data of their behaviour on your site. For instance they may have downloaded a free e-book or entered a competition to win a product. This information is useful as you know what products they are interested in.
Using this information you can create highly targeted emails based on their behaviour.
If you have several offers or e-books that can accessed once an email has been collected – you can segregate the list further into those who are interested into different products.
3. Website subscribers
There will be a list of people who have perhaps subscribed online but have yet to download an offer or any marketing material you have. These are the people that you have to collect more information about. They probably will have the lowest open and click through rate and also the highest rate of unsubscribing.
Yet they could be potential clients in the near future.
Each person on this list is different so you should mix up what products or services you send them information on. Getting them to buy directly is probably only going to result in low conversion numbers. Instead you should try to find out what in particular interested them in your business.
You can do this by directing them to your other marketing material (e-books, trials, etc) and see what they sign up for. This way you can gain further knowledge about your new potentials and use targeted marketing to convert them to a full paying customer.
Remember to maintain your lists
Your subscribers are highly unlikely to remain on the same list forever. You should constantly monitor who is on what list and swap them to the appropriate list when it is right. Otherwise you may find that you are losing potential consumers because you’re emailing them the marketing content you have designed for website subscribers – which has no more value to them.
A proper maintained and segregated group of lists is the best way to increase web traffic and generate leads.
Image: Horia Varlan
At this time of year, when you hear someone talking about a list, thoughts immediately go to a holiday shopping list. Among email marketers, however, the word “list” brings to mind a subscriber list. And, just as shoppers cross off items from their holiday lists, email marketers should do the same with certain older subscribers on their lists.
You obviously don’t want to delete all old subscribers, as some of these might actually be your most loyal customers. One way to find out if these older subscribers are still interested in receiving emails is to conduct a test.
Segment your list, check it twice
Segment your list into two groups, older and newer subscribers. Compare the bounce rates and unsubscribes (as well as opens and clicks) of the two groups. Subscribers on the old list who appear active (comparable to actives on the new list) are keepers. Those with high bounce and unsub rates or low activity are possible candidates for deletion.
But don’t be over-eager in your desire to cleanse your list. Before removing such subscribers, try a re-engagement campaign to see if you can salvage some of them. If not, go ahead and remove them.
Why should you remove these older subscribers? It’s industry best practice, and for plenty of reasons:
- Inactives – Subscribers with no activity in the past six months or so are poor prospects and more likely to file complaints (which could lead to being blacklisted by an ISP). The length of time deemed as inactive can vary depending on how frequently you send emails. Inactives are dead wood; they are costing you money to email them, and producing no ROI.
- Spam traps – Some ISPs use old email addresses as spam traps designed to identify companies using old lists – and designate them as spammers. Don’t fall for the trap!
Tips for list maintenance:
- Follow the bouncing email address – Hard bounces are email addresses that are permanently undeliverable (bloFolcked or invalid email addresses) and should be deleted from your list. You can keep soft bounces (such as a full mailbox) on your list, but keep an eye on them.
- Check for typos – An email address @gmial.com probably should be @gmail.com. Correct such errors instead of removing the subscriber altogether.
- Just de-dupe it – Remove any duplicate email addresses.
- Be on the alert for alias emails – Remove “role-based” email addresses such as team@, webmaster@, sales@, help@, support@, admin@, etc.
- Opt for opt-ins only – Banish email addresses of people who did not opt in to receive your email communications.
- Be careful out there – Be smart when building your list; do so organically.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s all about deliverability. The last thing you want is for your company’s emails to be blocked by an ISP. That’s why domain reputation is so important. And why sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses and move on.
So when you think about your email list, think quality, not quantity. Scrub your list until it’s squeaky clean. Follow the best practices outlined above, and you’ll be considered an email marketer who’s nice, not naughty.