Practicing good email list maintenance is critical to keeping your deliverability up as well as keeping a happy healthy list overall. Low open rates, unsubscribes, complaints, inactive subscribers, and bad hygiene, in general, can severely impact your ability to get into the inbox and avoid the spam folder. It can also cause you to get on the bad side of your autoresponder service which can often mean having your account shut down and losing access to your list.
The very first step in maintaining a healthy list is ensuring your leads are high quality, to begin with. Studies have shown that up to 30% of contact info entered into opt-in forms is bogus. Furthermore, it’s generally accepted that most people who do put a “real” email address in, don’t put their best one in. Most people have a secondary email address that they don’t check regularly and that they use exclusively for collecting lead magnets and promotional stuff. To maintain a healthy list and good email marketing stats, it’s important that you try to make your leads as high quality as possible.
One way to do this is to use “confirmed” opt-in, also sometimes called “double opt-in”. This way people have to click a “confirm your request for information” link in an initial email prior to being added to your list. This helps to ensure you are getting real email addresses and that your subscribers will be less likely to forget that they indeed opted into your list. However, although this solves the problem of FAKE emails, it does not quite solve the problem of SECONDARY or low-quality email addresses. This also reduces the overall amount of leads added to your list (though most would argue the lead quality is worth the smaller number of leads).
One further approach to ensure your email addresses are high quality is to simply avoid traditional opt-in forms altogether. Various solutions exist for acquiring high-quality contact data without relying on blank form fields. Facebook Lead Ads and Twitter Lead Cards are good ways to capture quality names and emails associated with people’s social media accounts. Even better, tools like MobileOptin and Warlord Mobile Leads allow you to capture the name and email associated with a person’s smartphone email account. Finally, building a buyers list with low-priced offers, in which contact info is derived from transaction data, is also an effective way to ensure your leads’ contact info is legitimate and high quality.
An excellent way to maintain a healthy (and happy) list is to segment your subscribers. It’s always likely that you have people in multiple niches, industries, and walks of life on your list. To help make sure your subscribers are only getting promotions that are relevant to them, it’s a good idea to the segment. For example, in the IM niche, you might have eCommerce store owners who sell physical goods as well as affiliate marketers who operate exclusively in the digital space. There’s a good chance that multiple emails about things like affiliate marketing secrets, private label rights (PLR) products, and “make money online” opportunities would annoy the eCommerce store owners enough to mark as spam, complain, or unsubscribe. This hurts your list health and deliverability. If at all possible, you should try to segment your list at the very beginning by having certain form fields that identify industries at the time of opt-in, or by sending out surveys and so on later on.
Trimming the fat and maintaining a lean, clean, engaged list can do wonders for your deliverability. The easiest and most hands-free way to do this is to ensure it is super easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe. If someone doesn’t want to be on your list, then you shouldn’t want them there either. Ensure that you have a clear and visible unsubscribe option in the header or footer of your emails. This ensures you don’t have a bunch of resentful people on your list who ignore your emails (which hurts deliverability) and reduces the number of people who feel the need to complain or hit the spam button (which hurts deliverability).
Another, more manual, way to clean your list is to get rid of disengaged followers yourself. If you have certain subscribers who have not opened any of your emails in the last few months, delete them! If you’re using an advanced feature like scoring, then you can automatically have a subscriber who falls below a certain score be removed from your list. Your increase in open rates will dramatically improve the health of your list.