Pro Tip: Don’t Email Your Whole List

Originally posted by NGP VAN

Emails go bad. Email lists go stale. These are the simple realities of email programs. Due to job changes, people signing up for new personal accounts and abandoning old accounts, about 30% of email addresses go bad each year.

For many of these addresses, the only indication that they are bad is the lack of opens and clicks, or rather their lack of activity. The reality of properly managing email lists is simple. Cutting your list is not just ok, but essential. A leaner list, without inactive addresses, lifts everything else.

When it comes to email blasts, the activity of your list helps determine what an email provider will do when you hit send. A stale, inactive list increases the chance of your email winding up in the spam box. About 27% of all email is sent to spam, so every little thing you do to improve the chance of your email being read helps.

1 year in Yahoo. 9 months in Gmail. 9 months in Outlook. 3 months in AOL. These numbers reflect the amount of time email providers take to close an account due to inactivity. Ideally, they should hard bounce and your work is done. But sometimes bounces don’t happen. Enter, list management.

I’ve seen the effect of cutting an email list’s inactive addresses first hand. For instance, when a campaign came to me with deliverability issues, I noticed around 45% of their email list had either never opened or clicked an email, or hadn’t done so in over 9 months. I advised them to remove those individuals from their active sending list. By doing so, they reduced their list by 40%. Soon after their open rate increased by 10 percentage points and their click rate increased by a few percentage points. The number of raw opens and clicks increased after shrinking their list and they were raising more money. In short, they were sending to fewer individuals but their email campaigns were more successful.

How many opens and clicks your email blasts receive isn’t the only factor when it comes to how email service providers see your list. Spam Traps are another way for email service providers to measure what to do with your email. They are email addresses that were never used or once active and should no longer be on someone’s list. The process is as follows: a once active address is “turned off” sending bounces back, during that time it should be removed from anyone’s list following best practices. After a year or so, the email address will be reactivated as a spam trap. As a result, anyone emailing said address isn’t adhering to best practices or added the address after it was made a spam trap. When it comes to deliverability spam traps can have some of the greatest negative impact. To avoid that route, simply clean your list and ensure your list is opted in. One bad listing, and you will be forced to re-opt in your entire list or potentially be kicked off your website provider.

The greater your email success, the less likely you wind up in spam jail. The way you manage your email list is vital. As you begin this New Year, reactivating your email campaign for the 2014 elections, think through who you’re sending to. Less could be more.

Next up: What are Spam Traps? How can we avoid them? Is there an easy fix? Stay tuned, and you’ll find out.

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