The Importance of a Clean Email List
According to research firm Radicati Group, by the end of 2016, people around the world will have exchanged some 215 billion emails. That includes personal correspondence, service messaging, marketing and any number of requests for cash from far-off princes. More than 50 percent of all email is spam, and while modern spam filters do an excellent job of keeping unwanted email out of the inbox, consumers are still inundated with messages.
As a marketer, you want to stand out from the crowd, engage your audience and move customers to act. Many rush to design flashy emails without recognizing the importance of what goes on behind the scenes. Before thinking about the development and deployment of effective email campaigns, first consider a bit of housekeeping.
Most companies keep a master list of all individuals who have ever signed up to receive email. The master list includes names, email addresses, mailing preferences, and sometimes, even demographic, device and location information. Vitally important to the integrity of this list is determining how individuals interact with messages. When emails hit the inbox, recipients will generally take one of five actions.
First, they may simply ignore the email. The email may be deleted or retained in the inbox, but no additional action is taken. Second, they may open the email. That’s engagement! That’s good! Third, they can click on a link in the email. More engagement! That’s great! Then, there are those less desirable actions of unsubscribing and marking as spam.
As recipients take one of these actions, they should be recorded by your email service provider. By reviewing campaign analytics, you can determine who on your master list is engaged and who no longer wants to receive your communications. Of course, unsubscribing and marking as spam are obvious indicators of a lack of interest, but failure to recognize and address that individual who never opens and/or immediately deletes messages can also be detrimental to your marketing program.
This is because a clean list enables marketers to establish baseline metrics for customers who find content desirable and might be convinced to take action. A list of individuals who regularly interact with your messages is a much better testing ground for messaging variations. When numbers fluctuate in a clean list, it's easier to attribute to recent marketing activities. Whereas, fluctuations in a list of individuals who display no pattern of engagement, or consistently low engagement can be more difficult to nail down.
Ultimately, email campaigns depend on numerous interworking components to achieve success. Design has to meet customer expectations, the offer itself must be relevant and enticing, subject line and body copy are important, and impacts due to time of day and send frequency are becoming increasingly scrutable. However, next time your engagement rates aren’t where you expect them to be, take a look at the list before blaming the email.