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How to Maintain an Email List

To make sure your subscriber data is accurate and your KPIs are in order, you need to maintain a healthy email list. Here are the best strategies on how.

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How to Maintain an Email List

Once you have an email list, maintaining it should be a regular part of your marketing process. Email list maintenance refers to the practice of regularly managing and updating your email list. This ensures that it remains accurate, healthy, relevant, and effective.

Effective email list maintenance helps guarantee that your emails reach your target audience and that your email marketing campaigns are successful, among other benefits, such as:

Improved Email Deliverability

An accurate and up-to-date email list can help you avoid high bounce rates, reduce the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam, and increase your overall email deliverability.

Bounce rates are the percentage of emails that are returned to the sender because they are undeliverable. There are two types of bounces:

  • Soft Bounces: Soft bounces occur when an email is temporarily undeliverable for any reason, such as a full inbox, a server issue, or a temporary email issue. Soft bounces do not typically require action, and the email can be re-sent later.
  • Hard Bounces: Hard bounces occur when an email is permanently undeliverable. This could be due to an invalid email address or a blocked email address. Hard bounces require action, and the email address should be removed from your list.

Updating your email list reduces the chances of getting marked as spam, because part of maintaining email list health is removing inactive subscribers. Subscribers may not be engaging with your emails because they do not want to receive emails from you anymore, so you may get marked as spam by some of them.

Your email deliverability rate is an important metric for you to track. Updating your email list so that it reflects accurate deliverability rates is a huge benefit of regularly maintaining your list.

Increased Engagement

A well-maintained email list ensures that your emails reach your intended audience, which can lead to higher open and click-through rates, as well as increased engagement with your content. Open rates are the percentage of recipients who opened the email, while click-through rates are the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link provided in the email.

Maintaining your email list results in higher engagement, because you ensure that the only people who are receiving your email are those who are fully interested in receiving them.

Cost Savings

Regularly cleaning and updating your email list helps you avoid sending emails to inactive or invalid email addresses. This can save you money on email marketing costs.

Improved Segmentation

Sustaining an accurate email list makes it easier to segment your subscribers based on particular criteria, such as location, interests, or behavior. Email list segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into smaller groups or segments, based on specific criteria, such as demographics, shopping habits, or interests. Thus, segmenting your list allows you to send more targeted and personalized emails to each group, improving the relevance and effectiveness of your emails.

With that in mind, having a list of emails that are fully engaged gives you more accurate data. This allows you to segment your list in a way that’s far more actionable. You can send targeted and personalized emails that are more likely to resonate with your audience and further improve your metrics.

Better Insights

By regularly monitoring your email list and analyzing engagement metrics, you can gain valuable insights into your audience’s preferences, future needs, and behaviors. It’s much easier to gain insight on your subscribers when they provide you with that data by engaging with your emails. 

If your list is full of people who barely engage, you’ll have a much harder time figuring out how to make your campaigns successful. The information provided can help you to refine your email marketing strategy and improve your overall results.

Email List Maintenance: Common Practices

Maintaining an email list involves various tasks that contribute to making your email list accurate and healthy. These tasks include:

Adding new subscribers

You should dedicate time to continuously grow your email list to keep it healthy. Employ various email acquisition strategies to add new subscribers to your list through various channels, such as your website, social media profiles, or online events. Growing your list keeps your content outreach from stagnation, and if you’re focused on reach, then acquisition should be the focus in your maintenance strategy.

Removing inactive subscribers

Consistently removing inactive subscribers (those who haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in a while) helps keep your email list clean and avoids sending emails to people who are not interested in your content.

Before you remove inactive subscribers, try to re-engage them with a re-engagement email. A re-engagement email tries to encourage an inactive subscriber to participate in the campaign. If the subscriber isn’t won back with the re-engagement email, then you can remove them from your list.

Removing invalid email addresses

Removing invalid email addresses (those with typos or that bounce back) can reduce your bounce rate and improve your email deliverability.

Segmenting your email list

Segmenting your email list based on specific criteria, such as location, interests, or behavior, allows you to send targeted and personalized emails that are more likely to resonate with your subscribers.

As email marketing trends lean more towards hyper-personalization, segmenting your list becomes more important than ever. Segmenting your audience into specific categories allows you to cater to the needs of your audience far better and maintain a happy subscriber base.

Regularly sending emails

Sending regular emails to your subscribers helps to keep them engaged and build trust with your brand. Keeping your subscribers happy with active content is important for the long-term health of your list.

Monitoring and analyzing engagement metrics

Regularly monitoring your email engagement metrics can provide insights into the effectiveness of your email campaigns and help you to refine your marketing strategy. Important metrics you should monitor include open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.

Using double opt-in

Require subscribers to confirm their email address, so you know they are genuine and interested in receiving your emails. This will help you maintain a list with subscribers that will provide you with the best engagement rates. It also makes your list scrubbing job easier, since you don’t have to worry too much about removing inactive or unengaged email addresses.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Provide an easy way for subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails, as this helps maintain the quality of your list and reduce spam complaints.

How to Tell if Your Email List Maintenance Strategies Are Working

Once you have an email list maintenance strategy in place, you need to monitor your metrics to understand if the strategy is working. Here are key metrics to track:

  • Open rate: The open rate is the percentage of subscribers who opened your email. A higher open rate indicates that your subject line and email content are compelling.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): This is the percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link in your email. A higher CTR indicates that your email content is engaging and relevant.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate is the percentage of subscribers who took a desired action after clicking on a link in your email. This could be making a purchase, filling out a form, or signing up for a newsletter. A higher conversion rate indicates that your email content is effective at driving desired actions.
  • Unsubscribe rate: This is the percentage of subscribers who opt-out of receiving your emails. A low unsubscribe rate indicates that your email content is valuable and relevant to your subscribers.
  • Bounce rate: This is the percentage of email addresses that were undeliverable because of factors such as an invalid email address or a full inbox. A low bounce rate indicates that your email list is clean and up-to-date.

If your metrics aren’t changing or if they are getting worse, you need to create a new email list maintenance strategy.

Tools to Help with Email List Maintenance

There are several email marketing tools available that can help you maintain your email list, such as:

  • Mailchimp: Mailchimp is a popular email marketing tool that offers list management features such as segmentation, automation, and reporting.
  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact is another popular email marketing tool that offers list management features such as list segmentation, list cleaning, and engagement reporting.
  • Campaign Monitor: Campaign Monitor is a tool that offers list management features such as list segmentation, automated list cleaning, and advanced reporting.
  • AWeber: AWeber is an email marketing tool that offers list management features such as list segmentation, automated list cleaning, and integrations with other tools.

HubSpot: HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing tool that offers email marketing features such as list segmentation, automated list cleaning, and advanced reporting.

How Often Should You Maintain Your Email List?

The frequency of your email list maintenance should depend on various factors, like the size of your email list, how often you send emails, and the nature of your business. Generally, it’s recommended to practice some kind of email list maintenance once a month, at least, to ensure it’s up-to-date and effective.

You don’t need to employ every maintenance strategy at once. Depending on the factors mentioned above, you can elect to practice different types of maintenance, all at one time, according to what is best suited for the health of your email list. The frequency will ultimately depend on the needs of your list, which may take experimenting to determine.

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