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Email Marketing List Management Best Practices

Posted by John Beveridge

Jan 20, 2013, 8:03 PM

Email marketing list management best practices blog articleEmail marketing is an essential tool for your inbound marketing program. Successful marketers use email marketing to engage with leads who have downloaded educational content but aren't yet ready to buy. Email marketing generally comes to play at the middle of your sales process, when buyers have an understanding of the problem your product or services solves and are working their way towards a purchase decision. A critical factor in the success of your email marketing program is the quality of your list. A high-quality email marketing list increases the chances of success with your inbound marketing program and keeps your company from being considered a spammer by internet service providers. This article will provide tips on how to grow and maintain a high-quality email marketing list.

Make Sure You're Emailing People Who Want to Receive Your Email Marketing

Another term for inbound marketing is "permission-based" marketing. Inbound marketing is based on the premise of attracting potential buyers to your sales process by providing educational content that they choose to receive. A good email marketing list meets this criteria - it should be composed of people who have chosen to receive your e-mails and should be actively managed to keep it that way. Here are some suggestions to create and maintain a high-quality email marketing list of engaged recipients.

  • Use an opt-in process for your email marketing list. Every single address on your email marketing list must be for people who have opted to receive your marketing communications. Never use an e-mail marketing list that you have purchased from a third-party. It's not only going to annoy most of the people on the list, but it will also damage your reputation as a responsible email marketer (and your email deliverability success.) Email to people who have opted to receive your information and make it easy for them to opt-out.
  • Use e-mail subscription types so that list members can choose the type and frequency of emails they want to receive. People on your email marketing list may not want to receive all of your marketing emails. Rather than push them to unsubscribing from your list, give them the opportunity to choose what they want to receive. They may be interested in your content, but want to receive it less frequently. They may be interested in one of your product lines, but not in the others. Most good email marketing software like HubSpot lets you offer your list members different options for the content they receive. The best email marketing segments lists to increase engagement; by letting your list members choose what they want to receive, they're segmenting themselves!
  • Remove unengaged list members from your email marketing list. If a list member hasn't clicked or opened an email in the past year, they're probably not interested in buying from you. Review your list periodically and reach out to unengaged list members to see if they still want to receive your content. Rather than purge them from your list, send an email that asks them it they still want to receive your content and asks them to opt-in to continue receiving your emails.

Maintain Your Email Marketing List For High Deliverability

Deliverability (the ability to get an email into the intended recipient's inbox) is a crucial goal for a high-quality email marketing list. How can your deliverability rates degrade?

  1. ISPs (internet service providers) can identify you as a spammer and block or blacklist your emails.
  2. Email recipients can identify your email as spam and banish you into their spam filters.

So what can you do to ensure a high deliverability rate for your email marketing? First of all, you can use the opt-in practices identified above to ensure you're using permission-based marketing.

CAN-SPAM Legislation

You also need to ensure that you comply with CAN-SPAM legislation. CAN-SPAM is US legislation - Canada, the European Union and many other countries have their own versions of anti-spamming legislation. Make sure you understand and comply with the applicable legislation in your country. Among other things, CAN-SPAM requires you to:

  1. Identify your physical address
  2. Offer a clear option for recipients to unsubscribe from future emails.
  3. Offer clear, non-deceptive subject lines and "from" addresses.

Most e-mail marketing software like HubSpot is designed for CAN-SPAM compliance. The legislation places the responsibility on the sender, regardless of whether or not a third-party is iinvolved. With fines of up to $16,000 per e-mail, it's a good idea to ensure that anyone involved in your e-mail marketing understands CAN-SPAM and complies with it.

Sender Score

Sender Score is a free service provided by ReturnPath.ReturnPath compiles data from ISPs like Verizon, Bell South, Comcast, etc. and grades outgoing mail server IP addresses on a scale of 0-100. The grade reflects the sender's ability to get email into a recipients inbox. I highly recommend that you get your Sender Score from ReturnPath. If your score is below 90, something is wrong with your email marketing - you need to find out what's wrong and take steps to correct it. If your new to email marketing, it may take some time until you have enough data to get a Sender Score.

Here are some of the possible reasons you have a low sender score.

  1. Your recipients are identifying your email as SPAM.
  2. You've fallen into a Honey Pot. A Honey Pot is an email address set up to track unsolicited emails. These email addresses are often found on purchased lists, which is one of many reasons not to buy lists. If you send an email to this address, you're identified as a marketer that sends unsolicited emails. This will cause the ISPs to either block or blacklist your IP address.
  3. You've been caught in a SPAM Trap. A SPAM trap is an email address that was once valid, but no longer is. For a period of time, the mail server will return a hard bounce (a notification that the address is no longer valid.) After that period of time, any emails that are sent to that address are accepted and identified as SPAM. What can you do to avoid SPAM Traps? Simple, remove any email addresses associated with hard bounces from your list immediately. Most email marketing software like HubSpot will automatically remove hard bounces from your list.

Start by getting your Sender Score from ReturnPath. If it's above 90, keep doing what you're doing and avoid poor list management practices that will degrade your score. If it's below 90, find out why and take steps to improve your score by rectifying any problems and practicing good list management on a go-forward basis.

Summary

A good email marketing list is the foundation of a successful email marketing program. Follow the practices outlined in this blog article and you will have an engaged audience and you will be able to get emails into their inboxes. Follow our blog for more articles on how to use email marketing to nurture leads and convert them to customers. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us for an audit of your email marketing program.

High_Res_Portrait_for_NVTCJohn Beveridge is the President and Founder of Rapidan Strategies, an Inbound Marketing Agency and Certified HubSpot Partner located in Fairfax, VA. Prior to founding Rapidan Strategies, John spent 25 years as a management consultant and specializes in helping professional services and technology firms grow rapidly with inbound marketing strategies. John is a Social Media Today contributor and currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Business Development, Marketing and Sales Committee

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