Has it been a while since you’ve sent an email to your campaign’s email list? Do you have an email list from a past campaign you want to reactivate? Maybe you’re spending lots of money to store inactive emails on your email marketing software. Or your deliverability might be suffering because you’re sending emails to subscribers that never open.
These are some of the reasons you need to practice good email list hygiene. Paired with email authentication, building a good sender reputation is key to getting your campaign’s emails into inboxes.
Keeping your campaign’s email list clean can take a few different forms depending on the challenge, but the goal is still the same. The more you take care of your email list, the better your results will be – higher open and click through rates, delivery to the inbox, and most importantly, more donations.
Reactivating an Old Email List
If you’re an elected official or candidate you should be emailing your campaign email list at least once a week in order to maintain the sender reputation you need to reach supporters’ inboxes. But if you haven’t been doing that and you’re dusting off your email list since you last ran, you’ll need to reactivate it before you start sending emails.
First, pass your list through an email verification service (I use BriteVerify) to help you identify any emails that are no longer active. Sending email to addresses that your verification service shows are “invalid” will result in hard bounces in your email marketing program and is a signal that you don’t have permission to email the user. Even riskier, the old email address could become a spam trap email address to identify bad actors.
Next, once you’ve removed any invalid email addresses, you need to slowly ramp up your sending to the list. If the email being sent from your domain goes from zero to thousands, you’ll likely be flagged as spam.
To avoid this, start by sending the same email in small, but increasing batches over the course of several days. For example, if you have a list of 10,000 emails but haven’t sent any email in a year, send 200 emails on the first day, 400 the next, then 800, and so on until you’ve sent to your entire list. Then you can break your next send into a little bit larger batches.
If you’re having trouble getting emails delivered with an established list, you could also try this tactic to improve your inbox placement.
Cleaning An Established List
If your email list has been up and running for a while you’ll likely have plenty of unsubscribed and bounced email addresses. These are all normal parts of your email marketing lifecycle, but you’ll have a high number of subscribers who can be categorized as “inactive.” Their email address is valid and they haven’t opted out, but it’s been six months or more since they have opened or engaged with any of your emails.
When you send to these subscribers, you’re lowering your overall engagement rate, thus impacting inbox placement, and paying for email sends that aren’t effective. To counter this, begin by applying an “active screen” on all of your emails to send to the most active segment of your list first. Then you can send to people who have been inactive for a short period of time if the email performs well.
For your really inactive subscribers, those who haven’t opened an email in six months or more, send them a reactivation email series (and automate it going forward) that warns them if they do not engage with an email, either by clicking a link or unsubscribing, they will be removed from the list permanently. The more aggressive your reactivation sequence the better. Use terms like “last chance,” “lapsed,” and “goodbye.” And if they don’t re-engage, remove them from your list.
It can seem counter intuitive to remove subscribers from your email list when we spend so much effort growing it, but keeping dead weight on your list only harms its overall performance.
By following these tips to practice good email list hygiene, your campaign will escape the spam folder, reach the inbox, and raise more money online.