No one wants to receive unsolicited email messages when checking their inbox. However, businesses often forget this and want to acquire as many new customers as possible by emailing people regardless of whether or not those potential customers signed up to be on their mailing list. Poor list building and maintenance can hurt email delivery rates and damage businesses reputations. When delivery rates are damaged, even those who want to receive your emails, can’t. Many businesses mean well, but don’t know how they should handle email marketing in comparison to direct mail. That makes your job, as their email-marketing expert, to be their guide in helping build their email list the right way, and to help them use best practices to send their emails out.
Here are 5 things to look for that may indicate trouble when working with your clients’ lists:
- Generic email prefixes: Most people don't sign-up for an email list with a generic email address. If you notice a large number of email addresses with prefixes like info@, sales@, webmaster@, etc. it may be a sign the addresses may have been scraped from the Internet.
- Age of list: If your client is sending to their list for the first time, find out how long they've been collecting email addresses and if those addresses are permission-based. If they haven’t sent an email to their list in over 6 months, you will likely see a lot of bounces and spam complaints the first time you send. Engaging with new sign-ups right away is important because most people won’t remember signing-up for a newsletter years after doing so. If your client has sign-up data, sort and remove outdated records. If they have the data, send to small sub-sets of the list to measure how email addresses perform before sending to the rest of the list.
- Spike in list size: If your client regularly sends to a list of 2,000 people and suddenly hands you a list of 20,000 it's unlikely the additional 18,000 opted-in to be on their list. Discuss how the addresses were collected with your client and inform them of opt-in best practices (PDF).
- Small business with a big list: If you're working with a new client who runs a small business and provides you a large list, you should ask them how they acquired the list. Perhaps it’s a combination of purchased, rented or organically acquired email addresses. Speak with your client to get to understand how the list was collected and cull out only those who opted-in to receive emails.
- Website traffic: If your client has low website traffic, but a large list this could be another red flag. Alexa is a great tool for getting site traffic data. If their page ranks in the hundred thousands, but they have a list of 50k or more this could be a red flag for a non opt-in list and warrants a conversation with the client.
By educating your clients about and reinforcing good email list growth practices, you’ll be able to help your clients realize better results.
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