One of the benefits of email is that it’s a fast medium. Many marketers use email for time-sensitive campaigns and to quickly broadcast their offers and messages. But can your email list be a barrier to reaching your recipients inbox? If you use bad data, the answer is yes.
Did you know an email list with a large quantity of invalid email addresses can delay your email campaign delivery for hours? Worse yet, sending to a high percentage of bad addresses can result in your message ending up in a spam or junk folder, or prevent your email from reaching valid subscribers on your list.
The biggest factors for improving deliverability include clean and up-to-date lists (64%), relevance of email (52%) and sender reputation (44%) according to the Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2011.
Clean your email lists on a regular basis!
Over time your email lists will include bad or invalid addresses. Churn is inevitable. Various sources report that 20 to 35 percent of Internet users change their email address each year. Subscribers may have also entered their email addresses incorrectly in an opt-in form or may have left the email address they originally provided. Regular list maintenance prevents mail servers from blocking your sender from email address and/or your server IP address because of the repeated sending of emails to addresses that don’t exist.
Avoid deliverability issues by following these tips to keep a clean subscriber database:
- Remove bounced email records. If an email has hard-bounced multiple times, remove it from your list. The address has proven itself non-existent or invalid. You may even want to consider removing records after one bounce.
- Remove malformed email addresses. (i.e.- using .co instead of .com, those without an “@” symbol and those that use www.domain.com instead of an email address). Running some simple searches will likely reveal most of these errors.
- Remove email aliases. Search and remove email addresses which appear to be aliases to larger lists such as info@, webmaster@, sales@ and support@.
- Evaluate your opt-in methods. Is there one method that is attracting more erroneous emails than the others? You may need to add a captcha to your opt-in forms if you get a lot of bot-subscriptions. Or consider using a real-time email validation service like BriteVerify.
- Remove fake addresses. If your list is small, run a manual screen to check for honeypot or obviously fake email addresses. These usually look abnormal or impersonal as they include lots of random letters/numbers. If you collect first and last names, also screen for identical names in both fields as spam bots sometimes duplicate that data when auto-submitting fake email addresses to web forms.
- Use an Email Change of Address (ECOA) service. A company like Fresh Address can help you match your old/invalid email addresses with the current address so you can reconnect with your customer or prospect.
- Remove inactive email addresses. These are addresses which have not bounced, but also have not performed any action with your messages (i.e. opens or clicks). You should identify these addresses and send them one final email alerting them they will be dropped from the subscription. This will help your reputation as many email service providers are now identifying abandoned email accounts and analyzing the unread messages sitting there.
- Become a trusted sender. Encourage recipients to add your address to their Address Book or “Safe Sender” list.
- Use a Preference Center. Discourage users from unsubscribing or marking your message as Spam by providing a way for them to manage their email subscription. A Preference Center can keep active subscribers on your list and allow them to select the types of messages they want to receive.
Improve your deliverability rate by maintaining your subscriber database. You’ll reach more subscribers, stay out of the spam/junk folders and most importantly, improve campaign results.