Back to the Basics: How to Optimize Your List

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Perhaps you're just gearing up for another email marketing campaign, or maybe it's your first foray to the inbox. Either way, it's helpful to review some of the basic best practices to make sure your subscriber list is flawless before you hit send.

Dust off your old or acquired lists
If you're digging up last season's list, chances are good that you haven't had any contact with these subscribers in the last several months, or not at all in the case of a purchased or rented list. That time frame leaves a lot of room for error.

Services like FreshAddress and TowerData can help you weed out invalid email addresses and merge new ones into your list. To speed up that process, try to keep up a separate list of people who have opted out that you can give to your email service provider.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid emailing any contacts you haven't sent to in the last six months or more.

Maintain a modest list
The instinct might be to have a large list, but quality is more important than quality when it comes to subscribers. A big list causes deliverability issues. A good list gets you to the inbox.

Try starting small, and then talk to your email service provider about any other lists you may want to add in at a later point.

Build out your list
Creating a list isn't the end game; once you have a clean list in place, you need to continue to add new subscribers. Include a sign-up form on your home page and at the end of any company blog posts, and share relevant content via social media.

But as important as signing up new subscribers is, it is equally important to retain current ones. As a marketer or small business owner, you should view your interaction with a recently opted in subscriber like a first date—there is interest, but no commitment. Many marketers erroneously believe it is more similar to marriage – a willingness on the part of the subscriber to receive an unlimited amount of mail with whatever message the marketer wants to send. Remember that abandoning the interaction is as easy as the consumer hitting the "Delete" key, or worse – filing your email as spam.

Start with your newest list first
Kick off the campaign with your freshest list. If you start with an old list, you can get blacklisted or trigger excessive spam complaints. Old subscribers might forget they opted in or forget who you are, causing them to hit the "Spam" button.

Leading with your best stuff still gives you the option of sending emails to additional lists.

John Murphy is president of ReachMail.
 

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