Keeping your Mailing List Healthy

Your body is a temple – treat it well and it will serve you well. Neglect to take care of it and you will end up paying the consequences. Mailing lists are exactly the same.
You need to take care of your email marketing list if you expect it to serve you well and get good responses to your offers. Like your body, an unhealthy mailing list will give some telltale symptoms to let you know that it needs some work and attention.

Let’s play doctor and single out how to build a good mailing list and how to keep it healthy and spot the symptoms of a sick mailing list.

Building the Mailing List into an Immune System

We all know that prevention is better than cure. So it’s important to know how to build a good mailing list so that you won’t have to fix it later. Similar to your body, once you break something it’s never really the same.

Double Up on Double Opt ins

It always pays to give a second look. The difference between a happy zebra and one that’s become a happy meal is a second glance at what looked like a log in a lake. Double opt ins provide this second glance to your mailing list via letting subscribers to not only opt in once to a service, but to verify that they indeed want to receive emails via a verification email after the first opt in.

This process minimizes the chance that recipients will ignore your email as they will be expecting it and are interested in the service. They said they were interested twice, why wouldn’t they be?

Double up on your Double Opt ins and double up on your take ins!

Nothing Says “I’m Better Than You” Than a Trophy

There’s only one thing people like more than free stuff – and that’s winning free stuff that other people didn’t.

You can host a competition where people have to subscribe for the chance to win a prize. Even better, offer a monthly prize and watch the subscribers fly in faster than a bird after bird seed!

If you want a quality list, make sure the prize is something related to your service or product so you can be sure they would be interested in what you are offering in your campaign and less likely to ignore your mail.

Look Out When Getting Them Onboard Offline

This is talking about trade shows, classes, seminars, guest speaking functions and the like. Be sure to offer attendees a way to put down their email address to subscribe.

Remember – solid trust is usually built through handshakes, not email shakedowns. Give your customers face value by showing your face and not hiding behind a keyboard. People will then be likely to respond positively.

An easy way to accomplish this task is offering value to those who give you their email address or even pass around an attendance register with a field where participants can fill in their email. More often than not, if there is a field that is empty an attendee will fill it. It’s kind of like an inbuilt OCD. The problem with these email addresses is that they can be unreadable or have typos. An email validation service can help, or you could also use a digital subscription form (like via an Ipad).

Keeping the List Healthy = Keeping you Happy

Now that you have a strong list you want to take care of it.

Letting good mailing lists go to waste is not only a shame, it’s a terrible disappointment!
It’s like checking up on your favourite child star 10 years later and ruining your childhood memories after a quick Google search.

The last thing you want to wonder is “Gee, I wonder what happened to my mailing list. I should probably check up on it.” Negligence is the devil of mailing lists and bounces are the hell. You need to constantly be checking up on reports about how your mailing list is performing and keep in touch regularly.

Bounces: Not as Fun as They Sound

Bounces are reserved for birthday parties for children and Baywatch.

In email marketing bounces refer to your mail not being received at all – it didn’t even get to the inbox. It did not pass go, it did not receive reader’s attention.

Although both are bad, it comes in two flavors – Hard Bounces and Soft Bounces.

Hard Bounces refer to your email being completely rejected, like that guy who went to prom alone. Your email was blocked and always will be blocked from reaching the inbox. This could be due to a couple of reasons, excluding curses and gremlins. Some reasons include: the recipient email address does not exist or was deleted, the domain name does not exist or the email server has completely blocked you.

Soft Bounces mean there is a temporary delivery issue. Your email still tries to reach the inbox over and over again, like a guy who just doesn’t take a hint. If your email is still not let into the inbox after 3 days it is recognised as desperate and a Soft Bounce. Reasons for Soft Bounces include: the mailbox is full, recipient address is offline or down or your email message is too large.

So what does this all mean for keeping your mailing list healthy?

You have to detect bounces – any quality email service provider will have a good reports and bounce management feature. Email service providers should also offer a way to automatically detect hard bounces and remove them from your list. Soft bounces that bounce for a set amount of time should also be removed as they have basically turned into a Hard Bounce. Hard Bounces tear down your sender rating and your deliverability, which could potentially ruin a perfectly good company reputation.

If You Really Love Them, Let Them Go

There’s nothing more unattractive than being clingy.

Unfortunately email marketers tend to be the clingy type, probably caused by some kind of childhood trauma.

What I mean is they make unsubscribing from a newsletter or mailing list as difficult and as painful as one of the 12 Labours of Hercules!

Put that unsubscribe button clear as day in your emails and show how bold and confident you are. People frustrated with trying to find the unsubscribe button do easier things – like marking your mail as spam, blocking your emails or complain about your company – all are terrible for sender reputation, deliverability and is just an overall ugly situation.

Re-engage or re-opt-in Subscribers

If you notice that a subscriber is not responding to your marketing emails, it might be a good idea to check up on them and see if they are still interested in receiving emails or you risk being the one that never calls and just doesn’t care anymore.

Send an email that allows them to re-opt-in. Subscribers that opt in for future emails will be engaged and the rest that doesn’t respond will be removed from your mailing list.

Live Long and Prosper!

Now that you have the tools and knowledge to build a strong mailing list and keep it healthy, you’ll be able to build a steady group of subscribers.

Mark Brown

After doing film making, freelance copy writing and marketing Mark has joined GraphicMail as copywriter. With a love of the strange, artistic and technological, Mark's interests are as varied and peculiar as he is. Mark loves to express his flavor on paper... or flickering screen to keep his readers informed and entertained."