The quality of your email list can significantly affect the deliverability of your email marketing messages. Therefore, list cleansing (also referred to as list hygiene) is a critical practice you should be doing on an ongoing basis.
Your goal should always be to only send messages that people actually want, so removing people who aren’t engaging (i.e., opening, clicking, etc.) with the messages you send is essential to getting the best results from your future campaigns.
Following are four ways you can maintain a quality email list so your messages continue landing in inboxes and you get the results you need from your email marketing investments.
1. Build an Opt-in List
When people opt in to receive email marketing message from you, they’re likely to recognize your business or brand name when you send mail to them. If they recognize you as the sender in their email inboxes, they’re less likely to flag your messages as spam.
Email mailbox providers (also referred to as email service providers or ESPs like Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and so on) take spam complaints very seriously. If you get too many, all of your messages will end up in spam/junk folders eventually rather than inboxes.
2. Send Messages Consistently
If people forget who you are, they’re more likely to ignore your messages or mark them as spam the next time you mail to them. This type of negative engagement hurts your sender reputation as far as mailbox providers are concerned.
If your reputation drops too much, more and more of your messages will go to spam rather than inboxes.
3. Clean Your List Regularly
You need to clean your list regularly by removing the following from it:
- Addresses that delivered hard bounces (meaning there is something wrong with the email address so messages can’t be delivered to it at all)
- Addresses of subscribers who haven’t opened your messages within a specific period of time (e.g., within the past year, six months, three months, or less depending on how often you send messages)
- Addresses that are obviously fake or generic, such as [email protected] or [email protected]
Each of these types of address problems can negatively affect your sender reputation and the deliverability of your email campaigns.
4. Avoid Spam Traps
You only have to send a message to one spam trap to immediately hurt your sender reputation among email mailbox providers and thus, hurt your deliverability in the future. There are two types of spam traps that you should avoid: recycled and honeypot.
Recycled Spam Trap
A recycled spam trap typically catches senders who don’t maintain quality lists by cleansing them on an ongoing basis. These are email addresses that were valid and belonged to someone at one time but have since been abandoned and become spam addresses.
Sending to recycled spam trap email addresses shows mailbox providers that your list quality is low. As a result, your reputation suffers and your deliverability goes down.
Honeypot Spam Trap (Also Called the Pristine Spam Trap)
A honeypot spam trap email address never belonged to anyone. Mailbox providers create them with one goal in mind – to catch spammers who use robots to crawl websites and scrape email addresses from those sites. Mailbox providers hide honeypot spam email addresses on websites for this purpose.
Mailbox providers also use these email addresses to catch people who purchase low quality lists that include these addresses – in other words, lists that were created by people who scraped the internet to find email addresses.
If you send a message to one of these honeypot spam addresses, mailbox providers know you’re sending messages to people who didn’t opt in to get email campaigns from you. Instead, you’re sending to a low quality list that may have come from bad actors or low quality sources. As a result, your messages are automatically marked as spam, your sender reputation drops, and your future deliverability tanks.
Key Takeaways about Email Marketing List Hygiene
While it may seem like a good idea to keep as many people on your email marketing list as possible, that’s not the case when some of those addresses and recipients are hurting the overall deliverability of your messages. Instead, cleanse your list on an ongoing basis and your email marketing will be far more successful.
This article was adapted from Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business by Susan Gunelius.