Email marketing is about sending the right message to the right people, at the right time. But if you’re not paying close attention to your overall list health you can kiss goodbye to all of the hard work you’ve put into your list building efforts.
A general rule is every year you can expect to lose 20-30% of your database from “list churn”. These are subscribers whose email address no longer exists (change of work or change of internet provider are the most common examples) as well as Unsubscribes and Complaints. While it’s difficult to control the change of email address – when your unsubscribe rates start to creep upward you need to pay close attention to the following costly mistakes that could be harming your list. These fours key areas should be your focus on performing a regular email marketing health check :
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Email frequency can be a difficult one to get right. You need to stay top of mind but in doing so you need to be mindful of the real danger of list fatigue. In fact the frequency of send is often listed as the number one reason people choose to unsubscribe. If you’re not sure, consider running some AB test groups to analyse the frequency of send and determine just how soon is too soon.
Don’t fall into the trap of committing to an email marketing program without a clear marketing plan. Lack of focus and emailing “because we have to send something out” without having a clear reason to send is a common mistake. If you can’t commit to producing great content on a regular basis, hold off on hitting that send button until you do. Make sure you have a communication strategy around email and ensure a clear customer journey is mapped out.
Work on nurturing your lists to deliver targeted and relevant messages and offers hitting the inbox just at the right time. Invest in a good CRM system and look at opportunities to integrate with your email marketing platform of choice.
Give me a Reason.
So you have a contact strategy in place and know exactly who and when you want to target, but have you paid enough close attention to your creative and what it needs to achieve? Every campaign you send should have a clear objective. Do you want to maximise open rates (and awareness)? Are you more interested in generating click-through traffic to your website or landing page? Maybe you need to collect a list of warm leads by including key trigger points within the email to tempt a particular audience? Or do you simply want to encourage someone on one dialogue via an email link?
Language and tone of voice can be key to really maximizing email engagement rates so pay close attention to each and every call-to-action and reap the rewards.
Keep it Clean.
List hygiene is the engine room of all successful email marketing programs. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing constant list growth (at all costs). There is no point in having a large contact list if you don’t have good practices in place to ensure your lists are active, engaged and opted in.
The key to getting your email to land in the inbox is good sender reputation. ISP’s take into account a number of factors when deciding how to treat your email.
Complaints are registered when a user flags your email as “Junk” or “Spam” rather than simply unsubscribing. This feedback is registered by the ISP and you need to ensure that you do not continue to send to these contacts.
Complaint rates are calculated based on the number of ‘Active’ emails you have (not your total list size) and a complaint rate of more than 2% could see you blocked by certain ISP’s. This means if you send to 1,000 contacts and receive 400 opens and generate 10 complaints you might think you have a complaint rate of 1% but it is actually based only off the opens so your complaint rate is in fact 2.5%.
If your email list is more than 2 years old there is a good chance it may have some inactive email accounts sitting within it. If the account owner has not used the account for a long period, some ISP’s will flag these as unknown or inactive accounts. Some of these will also be converted into known “spam traps“. If you are caught sending to these accounts you will be flagged as a suspect sender. If you have just a few of these spam trap accounts in your list you can very quickly be blacklisted and have ongoing sender reputation issues which will mean you can’t email anyone.
Maintain good list hygiene practices and engage email data experts to identify any inactive members. We suggest removing anyone who has not engaged (opened or clicked) on any email for the past 6-12 months or at the very least, isolating them from your regular communications and developing a re-engagement strategy to try and reactivate them. Need some advice on the best steps to perform an email marketing health check? Ask us how.
Good list hygiene will save you money by sending less email, improve your overall open rates by removing inactive members from your reports and it will deliver you a stellar reputation with the ISP’s and ensure your deliverability is in great shape!