Research by the Radicati Group in 2015 estimated that there were 2.5 billion people with email addresses in the world – and that number will only increase. Perhaps more importantly for marketers to note is that despite there being 2.5 billion individuals with email addresses, there were 4.4 billion actual email addresses floating around the digital sphere in 2015. Return Path’s annual benchmark study estimates that 1 in 6 emails never reach their intended recipient, making it more important than ever to keep on top of your lists to ensure these contain valuable, up to date data that will make your time and effort worthwhile.
Keeping on top of your email lists is undoubtedly a full time job. Companies may have thousands of contacts on their database, and with multiple emails often going out within the same week to various contacts, tracking bounces and unsubscribes takes constant work. If you’ve found your email lists looking a bit stagnant, with a constant high percentage of bounces and unsubscribes, read our top tips on active management to keep them in good shape.
A double opt-in is best-practice, but one that often gets ignored. Helping to purge bad and inactive email addresses from your list from the offset, and verifying that you have permission to send mails to a subscriber, double opt-ins are a necessity for effective email marketing.
Keep contacts organic
Don't be tempted to buy mailing lists. It may seem like an easy option but bought-in contacts are nothing more than inactive padding for your database. In addition, there are laws governing the use and collection of emails and if you're using a purchased list you could well be falling foul of them. Keep your contact list organic, i.e. those who sign up to receive updates via your website. True subscribers are much more valuable to your business than those who have been put on your list without their authorization.
Segment your lists
Segmenting is one of the most effective ways of keeping subscribers happy, or re-engaging inactive ones. Sending truly targeted emails, depending on age, gender or browsing and purchase history can reignite your contacts’ love for you and your business.
Give inactive contacts an incentive
One technique that has been used successfully by a whole host of companies to attract previous customers back to their website, is offering inactive subscribers an incentive to visit your site, and ultimately, spend a bit of money. 10% discount codes, complimentary delivery or a free gift with a purchase are the most common hooks offered by retailers looking to reel customers back in. If subscribers bite, you know they’re likely to respond to further emails from you.
Ask them if they still want to hear from you
It might sound extreme, but this technique has been successfully used by quite a few companies. We’re all guilty of scrolling through our personal emails – sometimes mindlessly – and becoming ‘blind’ to emails from companies we know and trust. Sending out an eye-catching email with a cracking subject line politely asking if they’re still interested in hearing from you, is one of the best ways to distinguish potential customers from those who may have bought something from you once, for a friend, six years ago.
Don’t be afraid to delete contacts
It's tempting to think the more contacts you have on your database, the better. However the term ‘quality over quantity’ has never been more noteworthy. You’re far better off sending emails to a smaller, highly engaged list of recipients, than a large disengaged one. ISPs actively look at engagement metrics to determine delivery, so having a huge, but stagnant list of contacts can actually be detrimental.
Get new contacts by making sharing easy
Your active customers, especially those who engage with your emails, are your best source of promotion. If they like what you do and love what you send, they will want to share with it others. Ensuring all your emails have easy to click buttons and links to share the content on social media is a great way to generate new subscriptions from others who are interested in you and what you do.
Be mobile friendly
Litmus reported that February 2016 saw mobile open rates for emails climb back to their highest levels – 55%. As more people check their emails on the go, making an email mobile-friendly is a must. No one wants to receive an email that is hard to read on a small screen, they want bright, punchy emails with easy to tap calls to action that take them seamlessly through to websites.
Remember, you’ll never be able to get 100% delivery rates, even if you follow all the tips above. But anything over a 95% delivery rate is considered good. It’s widely recommended that you clean up your lists every six months, however it’s always worth keeping an eye on the statistics to make sure your emails are hitting the right buttons for the right people.