Why You Should Delete Old Subscribers From Your Email List
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.