Less is better. Here’s why.

Mar 17 2014

If you’ve been in email marketing for any time, you know how golden a good email marketing list is. You spent so much time creating it and building it into the pride and joy it is now. But guess what? Chances are it’s time to gut it, because a slice-and-dice is necessary not only for the efficiency of your campaigns, but for the very survival of your email marketing efforts.
Nothing can kill your email business quicker than a few bad addresses. Even political campaigns can crash when email fundraising efforts go up in smoke due to a tainted and outdated list. You can avoid any doom-and-gloom scenario, though, with some basic best practices of email list hygiene. A monthly scrubbing is recommended for best results.
1. Get rid of all inactive addresses. Sending mail to dead email accounts, and getting a hard bounce, can hurt your IP reputation rating and damage future deliverability. What’s worse is if one of those inactive addresses is resurrected as a recycled spam trap. Yes, there are pure spam traps, which could blackball you for eons if you hit them, but ISPs also use inactive accounts as recycled spam traps. You’ll still get penalized for hitting these, but not as badly, since the ISP figures at some time – even if it was four years ago – you had legitimate reason to send to that address. XVerify provides real-time verification on all your list’s email addresses, and help you avoid any pitfalls that come from vacated or recycled addresses.
2. Try to reconnect with disengaged customers. You’ve been sending emails out to Customer A for three years, and in the last two years, she hasn’t so much as opened an email from you. It’s urgent you find the status of customers like this. They may be dead, or moved off the radar, in which the case the account will shortly become inactive. They may be turned off by your emails, and it’s only a matter of time before they start labeling your communications as Spam and damaging your rep. Or they may just be patiently waiting for something more impressive from you. Send a personal email to each of these customers (not a mass form letter) asking if there is anything you can improve to engage them with your emails more. If you still fail to get a response or so much as an open, you should cleanse them from the list. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Remove all role accounts. What are these? These are general inboxes that might be available to entire families or entire companies. Usually, addresses for companies that start with “admin@…” or “info@…” are role accounts. The danger is that while one officer of the company may have opted in for your emails, another officer checking the inbox might see your email as spam and label it as such. An honest mistake, but one that can ultimately hurt your deliverability. If someone with a role account has opted in, see if they can supply a personal address to send future mailings to.
4. Always check your bounces. There’s a big difference between a hard and a soft bounce. If you get a hard bounce, yes, the address doesn’t exist and should be deleted pronto. But soft bounces are mostly due to automated out-of-office replies and temporary server issues. Give soft bounces a second try a week later before relegating them to the trash bin.
5. Remove high-risk recipients from your list. Aggressive email marketers may not like the term “high-risk recipient.” They’ll give you the whole “no risk, no reward” motto. But rarely is the reward of one more email address worth the risk of losing more than half of your deliverability overnight. But send email to someone whose data can’t be readily verified, or to someone who has a history of spam complaints, and that’s exactly what could happen. If your list is healthy at over 10,000 contacts, that means the pursuit of one wildcard client could send communications to over 5,000 other clients into the vast dark vacuum of the Spam folder. Even the worst gamblers would pause at such a horrible payoff.
XVerify has become one of the industry leaders in email verification and list cleansing by using its large infrastructure to quickly communicate with other email servers to help email campaigns reach peak deliverability. Not only can XVerify manage your database of email addresses, it can also verify postal addresses and phone numbers to make sure all your customer information is as accurate and updated as it can be.

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