Email hygiene is central to email marketing success. Leading email service providers and consultants know this, which is why the importance of email hygiene is emphasized in their latest reports, along with good advice for cleaning and maintaining quality databases.
The biggest barrier to effective email marketing is a poor quality database, eConsultancy reports in the eMail Marketing Census 2013 survey. This was the first time the survey asked marketers to rate their email marketing performance, and the results were “shocking,” says eConsultancy, with almost two-thirds (61 percent) rating their performance as poor or average.
How can email marketers improve their campaign performance? The old “back to basics” approach has a lot going for it, says eConsultancy, with email hygiene as the most important element. Survey respondents said the factor that made the biggest impact on improving deliverability was having clean and up-to-date lists, which was cited by 58 percent of companies as the most significant way to improve deliverability.
Clean Up Your Act
Lyris’ Email Deliverability 2013 report supports this view, informing marketers that “routinely scrubbing your email lists is a surefire way to increase your delivery results.” Keeping your email list freshly up-to-date may seem like a mundane task, says Lyris, but the effort pays off.
Among the tips Lyris offers for maintaining good hygiene are:
- Remove all hard bounces after each campaign mailing
- Remove any inactive addresses that have not opened a message after 4-6 months
- Nurture the newest opt-ins with an automated welcome email
- Implement an easy, accessible unsubscribe process
- For marketers who purchase third-party email data, keep records of the dates when the email addresses were acquired to determine age and quality of the list, and be sure to inquire the age of the list and when it was last emailed
Attention should be paid to welcoming new users and cutting loose those who want to unsubscribe. A welcome program is important to kick off your relationship on a strong footing and to keep new subscribers engaged. Failing to unsubscribe users in a timely manner can bring trouble if they flag you as spam on subsequent mailings they receive.
It’s All About Hygiene
Yesmail focuses entirely on hygiene in “Why Cleaning Up Your Dirty Email List Pays Off.” Because your email list is important to your business’ revenue-generating capabilities, it’s crucial to maintain and clean the list regularly, says Yesmail. The cleaner your list stays, the better it will perform.
Moreover, Yesmail warns, a dirty email list is dangerous because it includes outdated and unconfirmed addresses that can wreak havoc on your email marketing program. When only a fraction of the emails you send land in the intended recipient’s inbox, the wasted effort costs your company money, time and resources.
The secret to being clean and staying clean, says Yesmail, is a regimen of prevention and pruning. Rid your list of deadwood (underperforming or nonperforming addresses) to reduce bounce rates and avoid spam traps. Yesmail also recommends making an attempt to become whitelisted and stay whitelisted, which, it says, is a surefire way to boost your list’s success. “Getting clean helps you grow,” says Yesmail, explaining that cultivating a healthy email list is the key to creating effective email campaigns that will build your business and connect with customers.
Go Mobile, Stay Fresh
As marketers embrace the mobile channel, email hygiene will play a paramount role in ensuring success, says a new Multichannel Merchant report. “A clean list is a deliverable list,” says author Tim Parry, “and a deliverable list keeps ISPs happy.” Happy ISPs do not report you to third-party monitoring services, explains Parry, so your email remains deliverable.
Before you transmit your emails, ensure your list is as clean as it can possibly be, says Parry. Make sure all bounces have been scrubbed and all remove requests have been answered. Among the tips Multichannel Merchant offers are:
- When cleaning your list, make sure you verify domain names, fix typos and eliminate profanity
- Use suppression files to weed out known bounced emails, opt-out requests and known spam traps your vendor has built
- Validate email addresses. If you use a service bureau, have your bureau contact ISPs to confirm email addresses are valid
- Use an Email Change of Address service to reconnect you with the guaranteed deliverable, preferred email addresses of your customers
Parry stresses the importance of dealing with inactive subscribers by trying to regain contact and engagement. Because about 30 percent of email addresses churn annually, a good number of email addresses have been abandoned and are no longer read. Besides employing an Email Change of Address service to reengage customers, a win-back program can bring some customers back.
Parry recommends defining criteria for inactive subscribers, such as those who have opened for 60 days, and sending a triggered email when those criteria are met to let the subscriber. These programs cannot only reactivate someone who has been ignoring your brand, says Parry, but can also drive sales.
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