How to spring clean your email list Published April 1, 2015 To reap the huge benefits of email marketing, you need to grow your mail out list. The importance of doing this cannot be stressed enough if you consider just how much more likely you are to stumble across customers by adopting the scattergun approach. Though while all good newsletters have a strong readership, they also have a highly active one to boot. If only people would pay attention to the accounts they sign up to, right? Also, if only they’d supply the address they intend on registering with, rather than one with numerous typos. These actions cause many emails to go undelivered and unread, leaving the brand with no choice but to begin their cull of contacts. Spring clean your email marketing list You should have no fear in cutting some of your own opted-in addresses if they have a track record in being unresponsive. Furthermore, you’ll be much better off following a good spring clean, as no longer will dud contacts have a detrimental effect on your statistics. Here’s how you go about this arduous yet highly essential task. Get used to checking for spellings, typos This test might be a little hard to conduct if you’ve got thousands of contacts to trawl through, so try breaking up your weeding in ten minute sessions. Ten minutes per day checking your list for spelling mistakes and typos will see most of the duds cleared after a week. Most of these will be obvious to spot, as well. In this case, ‘email@example.com’ is clearly meant to be ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and should be swiftly erased from the database. Likewise for those ending in ‘al.com’ rather than ‘aol.com’ or anything that not only looks a bit fishy, but also shows no record of its messages being read. So-called ‘good hygiene’ tools are great for scanning through pages of data – use them to your advantage. Don’t let too many emails bounce Not every address is typed incorrectly, yet they can still have a damaging effect on your campaign. Users might shut down their accounts, move onto different jobs from where their address originated or simply move to another service provider. Deactivation of an account causes messages to bounce and marketers to tear their hair out when they review their stats. The reason being that deactivation causes the message to “bounce” and return back to the original sender in the form of an error report. The more bounces you receive, the more vulnerable you are to internet service providers (ISPs) and spam-fighting organisations like Spamhaus putting your brand on their blacklists. When they do so, these companies are giving their own lists a clean by labelling you “spam” and preventing your future mail outs from reaching their intended targets. That’s why you need to remove all of your bounced or invalid addresses from your email database as soon as possible. One bounce is enough for some, but mavericks in the profession will try a couple of resends just to make sure. Once you’ve established the issue, weed the address out. Keep an eye on non-engaged users Some users have an active, accurate address yet they still won’t open your email. What’s worse is they won’t even opt-out of your service; the only purpose they serve is to drag down your figures. There’s no financial loss associated with keeping these contacts on your list, though ISPs use these types of readings to grade you as a sender. Perhaps the best way to avoid the spam tag in this case is to simply reduce the amount of messages you send to these addresses. Keep a note of them and if their reading rates pick up, upgrade them to normal service. Check your feedback Another factor ISPs use to grade your status as a sender is the feedback you’re receiving. Trawling through this might be a little daunting if you’re not sure how people are reacting to your service, but it’s imperative if you want to save your reputation. Email service providers make it really easy for their users to report spam. In fact, it’s often easier for the user to report your message than it is for them to unsubscribe from the mail out altogether. Don’t get classed as spam just because people genuinely aren’t interested in your service; remove them from your lists and you’ll keep all parties happy. Beyond this, anything you can use to make the cleaning process quicker is bound to make a big difference. More efficient processes cut time, making you more inclined to perform certain tasks and, as aforementioned, keeping your list squeaky clean is more than worth your precious hours.