Maintaining a healthy email distribution list is just as important as the best practices you utilize to create your list (to be discussed in a separate post). Please note that the following steps work best when used with a email marketing tool like Constant Contact, mail chimp or iContact.
- Trim the fat – One of the easiest steps in keeping your email list clean is to evaluate the non-existent addresses and other bounced or blocked email. Each of these can be immediately (manually) added to your do not mail list. Your email marketing tool should have an easy way to identify (and remove) bounced emails from your list. Be careful to NOT remove emails that bounced due to ‘mailbox full’ or ‘out of office’ messages.
- Track your Opens – If people are receiving your emails, but aren’t opening them… after 6 months, it’s time to part with them. Why pay to keep them on your list (most email marketing plans have you pay based on your total number of contacts) if they aren’t reading your messages? Add all of your opens from each email blast to a dated list. For example, if we send out 2 email blasts in August 2011, we add anyone that opened those emails to a list called ‘August 2011 Opens’. Do this for each email blast and remove any Open lists that are more than 6 months old. If a contact has continued to open your emails, they’ll be in a new open list and won’t be removed from your total list.
- Date your additions – As you add new emails to your list, keep track of when they are added. After any list of additions is more than 6 months old, remove them. If contacts from that list have opened your emails within the last 6 months (and you have added them to an ‘Open’ list as suggested), they will remain on your overall list of contacts.
- Remove distribution emails / aliases – some email addresses are used to go to multiple people – or are aliases for other emails. It’s best to remove these from your email lists. Search for emails that start with info@, sales@, mail@ or other generic terms and remove these from your lists.
Of course, as you trim the bad addresses from your list, it’s important to find ways to add to your list so you can continue to grow your email marketing audience.