How to maintain a list for email marketing

We've seen things. Bad things. Ugly, gnarly, twisted spreadsheets bulging with wonky email addresses, inconsistent fields, and shocking gore. Oh, the humanity.

If you’re engaged in email marketing, you know that, in addition to emails that seize people’s attention, the recipient email list is critical. (And why wouldn’t you be using email marketing, it has the highest ROI of any digital marketing strategy!)

When your lists are full of bad addresses, people who don't know anything about your company (or even your industry!), and old enemies who hate your guts, your campaigns will suffer and suffer mightily. Because those folks aren't engaging with your emails, and they're going right into the trash unopened or even bouncing back due to crummy addresses.

Learn from the churn

Email churn is the number of people leaving your list through unsubscribing, reporting you as SPAM or an address that results in a bounce, or aged-out folks who just don't open your emails. The average churn rate is 83%, which means that 17% of your medical marketing emails are not making it into your target audience’s inboxes. We don't like that. We want every email we send to be like a birthday present from your favorite Aunty in your inbox. Like death and taxes, some churn is inevitable. But if you use these four email list best practices, you can rejuvenate your list and slow the churn to a manageable rate.

1. Keep It Clean

List hygiene, much like personal hygiene, is mandatory. Consider cleaning your list several times a year or as often as your new crop of interns allows. And if you see a spike in bounce rates, get after it right away! Cleaning your list is easy, if tedious. Remove duplicate addresses, remove, or fix addresses with typos, remove or fix invalid email addresses, and delete those addresses that bounce. People move around a lot, and things change, so cleaning up your list should be happening on the regular. Cleaner lists mean lower bounce rates, which is good. Higher bounce rates hurt your sender reputation, making it less likely your mail will be delivered except to the Spam folder. This is bad. Bad lists also result in poor analytics, so if you want higher click-through rates and opens, you’ll get a nice boost by cleaning up your list.

2. Let subscribers choose the frequency.

If you’re loaded for bear with your email marketing, let subscribers choose how often they hear from you. For some, they want to see every little thing you send out. For others, they only want to see you about as often as they see their in-laws. Not they don’t love them, but absence can make the heart grow fonder. Most major email platform offer subscriber preferences as an option.

3. Make unsubscribing easy. If people don’t want to get your emails, they’re not looking at them anyway, so there’s no reason to keep them around. Let them wave bye-bye and engage them in other ways if you still consider them a hot prospect.

4. Don’t buy lists.

Not only is it in violation of CAN-SPAM regulations, but it's also ineffective (most buyable or rentable lists are of inferior quality). And icky. Eww. If you want help getting a handle on your lists or email marketing campaigns, let us know!