Housekeeping is an essential task, no matter what area of your business you look at. Circumstances change, and reviewing, revising, and tidying your processes and systems are all part of how we move forward with our business.
And this is something that must also apply to our email marketing. Over time, the customers on our email lists can become redundant or unnecessary for many reasons. Just as holding dead stock can be detrimental to a business, so can keeping ‘dead’ email addresses.
But how do we know when to clean up that list? How do we decide which customers to purge? And is there any way we can use this housekeeping to our advantage?
How Often Should You Consider Purging Your List?
There is no set rule for how often you should have a close look at your current list. It will vary from business to business and will also depend on how large your existing email list is. The ‘average’ time would be around every six months. Any longer than that can leave you with a huge task. But ideally, we would suggest doing it quarterly.
Housekeeping should not only focus on removing redundant subscribers, it should also consider how you can organize your list better so that you can produce more focused and targeted campaigns in the future. And you can also look at ways of building a more reliable email list.
As many companies adopt a remote working model, it is crucial to ensure that your team members can collaborate when it comes to email marketing. Whether you’re already aware of smart communication tools, such as Flock, or a flock competitor, equipping yourself with such technology is sure to save you time and effort.
Five Simple Steps to Clean Your List
Quality vs. Quantity
Bigger does not always mean better. Yes, you want to build a good marketing email list, but you want one that is likely to lead to conversions. And some ways of building it should be avoided; buying an email list is both unethical and, in many cases, illegal too. Customers rightly have more protection than ever before, and that includes how their personal data is used.
The quality of our data and how we use it is central to most areas of modern business. If you’re not already using any tech in this area, look at how data quality software can help you.
It’s better to focus on growing a more streamlined email list, one where customers have actually opted in to receiving information from you and have a genuine interest in your products and services. Genuine interest = potential sales! And you also want to know that the email addresses you have are real and in use. Consider perhaps using a service such as Voilanorbert’s email verification.
Be Ready to Let Go
It can be difficult to let go of something you still believe in. You can easily get lost in ‘what if’s. Think of this, however, as the marketing version of hoarding.
There’s a good chance a lot of effort and some financial output went into building that list, so you may think that purging names is just throwing away money. You have to stop thinking like that.
What are your goals for your list? Subscribers? Sign-ups? Sales conversions? Identifying your primary goal can help you focus on customizing your list only to include email addresses that will further your ambitions. With a cleaner list, you will also see an increase in the number of emails successfully delivered and opened.
Create Your Ideal User Persona
One way to help you tweak and customize your list is to visualize your ideal subscriber, imagining how they behave online and what they respond to. Of course, not all your users will fit this ideal persona, but it will give you a foundation to work from. It may even be that you need to segment your ideal users into more than one category.
Having these constructed personas shape your email list also helps when it comes to deciding on email marketing strategies. The best way to develop this list and your forthcoming marketing strategies is to send out surveys or put them on your website or social media platforms. The answers to these surveys can dictate everything from the frequency with which you choose to send emails in the future to the type of content you produce and to which specific segments you decide to target with it.
Delete the Deadwood
Once you begin to develop an idea of what your ‘new’ list should look like, it’s time to get rid of any and all deadwood on the list. Your email analytics will be able to identify the addresses that open every email, sporadic emails, and none at all.
Why consider all three categories? It may be worth sending out one last email to the ‘never open’ group and one or two to the sporadics to offer them a chance to reactivate their subscription and even consider incentivizing it. For the sporadics, give them more than one chance or even try sending a specifically targeted survey to see what might boost engagement.
Look Forward, Not Back
The whole idea of this housekeeping exercise is to focus on the future, not the past. The names you are purging were redundant and were not providing any value to your business. Now that you have a more streamlined list, it is about extracting maximum value from those remaining names and also, of course, about how to add to that list.
The first time you carry out a purge will teach you how to identify ‘dead’ entries: those who are inactive or who have never responded. And if you have used surveys, you can formulate plans that keep the new streamlined list interested and engaged.
When carrying out this housekeeping exercise, it is also worth looking at how secure your file-sharing options are, especially with so many staff now working remotely. Obtaining good secure file sharing software for your business should be part of any forward-looking plan.
To Conversions and Beyond
As already mentioned, carrying out housekeeping on your mailing list is not just about removing those subscribers who bring no value to your organization. It is about shaping your future emailing list and how you use it. Too often, companies just have one large, unwieldy mailing list that they send the same content to when they do a mail out.
List purges should be part of your overall marketing strategy, especially that initial one if you have never done one before. It can help identify if there are different segments within your list (such as certain buying patterns, particular interests, etc.), and also, through surveys, what interests and engages them. Different segments are likely to have very different needs, so recognize that when you do your housekeeping.
For example, this exercise could identify that 30% of that list is interested in your lower value products. You may now want to target that particular segment, not only with information on products that are in that category but special offers on higher value items that take them up a notch. That can include things like free delivery or a free low-value item with the higher cost item.
Another aspect worth considering is improving the quality of each subscriber on that address. A name and an email address tell you very little, but by enriching that list with additional details such as company role, social media profile, etc., you can have higher quality leads to target.
Choosing the right tools for your business is critical. From selecting the best team chat app to picking the best inventory management software. All of these are important building blocks for your company.
Automated systems and processes are the great tools of our time. While automation may be efficient, for your first purge, manual (or a degree thereof) is probably a better idea as you can make decisions and create categories as you go along. Human judgment can then be used to design the subtleties and look of your new list and also how you’d like to carry out a purge in the future.
But automation is here to stay. We utilize it in everything from intelligent document processing to payroll processing. So look at how it can help you with your email list.
But, once you have that V1.0 of your improved list, implementing an automated system makes good sense. You can set rules for the removal of addresses and how often they should be used. For example, if an email to a subscriber bounces 3 or 4 times, it is removed. Or if a subscriber has not opened mail from you within a set period (say a minimum of 6 months), then they too are removed.
It is also worth looking at email tools that can integrate with other apps you are already using to make your entire workflow process more streamlined and efficient.
For many organizations, their email marketing list is a key component that drives conversions and sales. And just as you would regularly service any vehicle you use, the same philosophy should apply to your mailing list. Keeping a list with a high bounce rate or an unopened mail list can adversely affect your figures when it comes to analysis.
Regular and efficient maintenance of your mailing list doesn’t only remove ‘dead’ email addresses, it also helps you improve your overall email marketing strategy. With a streamlined list, you reduce your negative metrics while potentially seeing large increases in the metrics that matter the most.
Victorio Duran III – RingCentral US
Victorio is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. He has over 13 years of extensive involvement on web and digital operations with diverse experience as web engineer, product manager, and digital marketing strategist.