Don’t Wait Until Spring to Clean Up: Two Must-Do Tips for Email Marketers

Here’s the cold truth: Every day you neglect to clean your email marketing program data is one more day of damage you could be doing to your email sender reputation.

I said it was cold!

Your email sender reputation is dependent on your following of best practices. Are you only emailing people who consent to receiving your email? Are you removing bad data, like addresses that bounce? Are you sunsetting addresses showing no engagement within a reasonable period?

Email and data are inextricably linked, and if you’re going to start 2021 on the right foot, your email marketing data needs to be pristine. Why? Because competition for attention in the inbox is greater than ever, email volume is at record highs, and you simply can’t afford to be subject to the consequences of a poor sender reputation.

I mean, do you want to be blocklisted and have zero email reach your recipients? Didn’t think so.

Here are the two major things you need to take care of before we escape the winter doldrums, because if you don’t, you’ll be racing to catch up with your competitors.

Dump your bad addresses

Are you noticing lots of rejected email? Those are bounces. They can be hard bounces (permanent, no mail is getting through) or soft bounces (try again later when you feel lucky, punk), or have a bunch of different reasons out of your control. You can look at the error codes reported back to you via your email service provider (ESP) data, and other things like Google Postmaster Tools, to get an idea of the reasons the mail is bouncing. But the bottom line is, if lots of your mail is bouncing, you likely have a data issue. You should run your addresses through a list validation tool, like BriteVerify, to identify bad addresses. To be sure, this won’t keep you from other kinds of bounces, but it’s a great place to start repairing and protecting your email sender reputation.

Sunset your low-activity subscribers

You have consent to mail. Good, very good. But…when did you get it? Are these recipients still opening your mail? Your journey to being a good sender doesn’t stop at getting consent to email your subscribers. Instead, keeping an active eye on your email deliverability metrics is key to your reputation. Look through your lists and identify which addresses haven’t engaged with your email in any given amount of time. The timeframe you use is entirely up to your business goals, but let’s say someone has not opened an email from you in six months. It’s time to either do a re-engagement campaign (in which you send an email specifically asking them to re-confirm their consent), or simply remove them from your lists. If you continue to send to recipients who take no action on your mail, or worse, complain about your mail, mailbox providers (MBPs) will take notice and take action. Even WORSE is if you keep emailing, and those addresses turn into spam traps and send clear negative signals to MBPs. It’s a game you don’t want to play, just in case.

It can be scary to remove email addresses. They can be hard-won and it’s obvious they’re a direct line to customers and prospects. But remember…the risk can also NOT be worth the reward. Even small choices like continuing to mail unengaged addresses can slowly chip away at your deliverability and put you in a bad place (psst: BLOCKLIST). Start as fresh as you can and enjoy the fruits of your labor—more engaged subscribers, less negative (non)interaction, and the peace of knowing you’re in control of your own email destiny.

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