Keeping Your Mailing List Clean
Now you’ve done a ton of work to make sure that your mailing list is highly targeted and that the subscribers will only become more engaged and committed as a result of receiving all your high-quality correspondence.
But this doesn’t protect you from invalid emails. This is where the subject of ‘email hygiene’ comes into play, and it’s very important if you want to keep a good sender reputation and if you want to make sure that your list retains its value. This is especially crucial if you ever plan on selling your email.
The first thing to get rid of is the invalid emails. These are emails that simply aren’t real addresses, or that have been abandoned. Of course, sending lovingly crafted emails to an email that’s made up – or that belongs to someone who died a long time ago – is not a particularly smart business move.
Most autoresponders, fortunately, contain email hygiene tools specifically to help solve this issue. The first thing many of these will do is to check over the data for common typos. One reason you can collect invalid emails is simply that people make typos when they sign up. Look for emails like ‘Bob@gmailcom’ and you can avoid this problem. If you don’t have the necessary tools with your autoresponder, then you can just go through the database manually. It’s a lengthy process but you can always outsource this to a
Another way to do this to a virtual assistant and it shouldn’t cost too much.
To more quickly flag up potential problem emails, you can also look for bounces.
A bounced email is an email that fails to deliver and there are two types of these. ‘Soft bounces’ are temporary bounces that can be due to a range of factors (including a full inbox), whereas ‘hard bounces’ are delivery failures that are unlikely to change or be resolved. These are cases of emails never existing in the first place, or of the email account being deleted for instance.
At either rate, you want to delete emails that are consistently failing to get through to the recipient.
As they say, prevention is better than cure! If you want to avoid the number of invalid emails being too high in the first place then you should always use a double opt-in on your forms. Double opt-in you may recall, means that the subscriber needs to confirm their interest via an email with an embedded link. To the inexperienced email marketer this might seem like a big problem, as it means they’ll be making it harder for their subscribers to join up.
But in reality, this is an important tool for blocking fake emails and for blocking spam.
Spam of course is caused by robots and scripts that automatically fill in forms – but which won’t be capable of responding to a confirmation email.
At the same time, spam filters also block people from signing up who aren’t really interested in your product or your messages. Some people sign up on a whim but then never check their inboxes. Fortunately, these types of subscribers are also highly unlikely to interact with a confirmation email, simply because it takes too much time and effort. So this way, you aren’t only filtering out the invalid email addresses, but also the disinterested subscribers.
Other subscribers will become inactive. These are the people who sign up but then later lose interest in your messages. Alternatively, these people may have changed their email address, or sadly may have passed on.
Whatever the case, it’s no use sending emails to someone who never opens them and it will save you and them time and money if you just remove them from your list. Thankfully, most autoresponders can automatically show you which emails aren’t getting opened, so after a while, it’s worth deleting them from your list. Don’t be tempted to keep them around just to artificially inflate your numbers – a targeted list beats a big list every time.