- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On August 30, 2012
It used to be that a company could buy an email list and send a mass email with the potential for a good return. That approach does not work effectively any more as consumers have become more effective at screening out unwanted marketing messages. The emphasis for marketers today is not so much on list volume but on a combination of volume and quality. To achieve this you need to constantly maintain and clean your email list.
Did People Really Opt-in?
Today’s best practices for email marketing are that everyone that receives an email from you opted into your list. This has become the standard as consumers’ tolerance for email marketing has dropped. Email received from companies that the consumer did not choose can expect very low open and click-through rates.
Many local businesses have not conducted other marketing efforts to build opt-in lists. You may have email lists of “dubious origin” where some may have opted in and others not – and for most you are just not sure. In this case tread carefully. You may want to conduct some campaigns to get those that did not opt-in but you believe you know/have done business with and those you are not sure about to opt-in now. Thus rebuilding a kosher opt-in list. Be very careful under these conditions to watch your complaint numbers (see below.) You should not email those where you’re sure you don’t them – this is spamming.
Actively Maintain Your List
The only way your “house” email list will reach the quality levels needed to be effective with today’s consumer is if you actively maintain it. There’s no escaping the fact that you will need to periodically update subscribers’ information and delete subscribers that have non-working email addresses. If you cannot allocate time to maintaining your list, you should find a member of staff to do this or consider outsourcing this. The ROI for this work is substantial.
Any emails that bounce should be checked to see if the bounce occurred due to a server failure or an invalid email address. Emails bounced because of a full email box or server failure can stay on the list for future use, but if the email is returned because of an invalid address, then it should be removed right away.
People are on the move all the time in today’s world and so a certain percentage of the email addresses in your list will become invalid every year. If your bounce rate is above 5% take a close look, this is high for most industries (source: Mailchimp) Keeping too many bouncing email addresses in your list can even raise a “red flag” to your email service provider and get you into a conversation with them about whether you are a spammer. Ultimately ignoring this problem can lead you to be banned from your email service. In a post CAN-SPAM act world, email service providers have to be very careful not to have spammers as customers or they can end up with legal liability.
Look at Complaints
Many email clients (Gmail, AOL) have buttons for recipients to label your email as spam. Even with your best efforts to get people to opt-in to your email lists and time spent cleaning out deadwood from your email lists, people can forget who you are an click the “spam button”. If your complaint rate gets too high (anything above 0.1% – source: Mailchimp) your email service provider will want to talk to you. Again you risk being shut off if you can’t bring your complaint rate inline.
Email marketing can have huge ROI but email marketing is not spamming. Spamming is ineffective and now illegal. You only start gaining a large ROI out of email marketing when you keep your email lists as clean as possible.