Nurturing an ever-green list of active email subscribers is a key element of keeping customers engaged, ensuring they click, open and read most of the content that ends up in their inboxes.
However, in the last several years, email marketers, and business owners have lost track of keeping their email lists streamlined. While many professionals often focus exclusively on growing their lists, it’s just as important to ensure that they collect quality leads that can turn into engaged customers.
The importance of quality over quantity takes an important seat at the table, and weeding out inactive subscribers, or even those that no longer actively engage with your content can save you time and valuable resources down the line.
What is email list management?
Before we dive deeper into why it’s important to effectively manage your email lists, let’s first recap what email list management entails.
Nowadays, businesses utilize every possible communication channel to engage with potential paying clients, and email marketing is one of the many avenues that has proven successful over time, as its marketing efforts have been directly targeted at a select group of interested customers.
Ultimately, the end goal with email list management is to achieve high and active engagement from your email marketing efforts. Any business wants to see its efforts return some sort of growth, and dedicating the time and energy to refine email lists ensures that brands can reach the right audience, at the right time.
When executed properly, active subscribers, those that end up opening emails, reading the content, and clicking the links result in higher engagement. This is what some professionals refer to as higher deliverability, where emails end up in customers’ inboxes, instead of their spam folders.
With a healthy email list, brands and email marketers can be certain that the contacts they have are those that will end up turning into paying customers, even if it takes them a few tries to get the right angle.
10 email list management practices for streamlined engagement
Although there are several actions email marketers and businesses can take to improve their email lists, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 best practices that can help streamline audience engagement.
1. Create transparent subscriber opt-in forms
Although you may already have an active list of email subscribers, going forward it’s important to ensure that your subscriber opt-in forms are clear and transparent. By doing this, you will clearly communicate to subscribers the purpose of capturing their email information and any other data analytic purposes.
Make sure that your communication is as transparent as possible, to minimize the feeling of tricking subscribers into signing up for your email list by making false promises. The best way to do this, is by explaining gaining users’ consent, especially if you’re planning to send them marketing materials in the near future or add them to your existing list of addresses.
For better transparency, you can let users understand how you will be using their information or data. Whether this is for market research purposes or improved personalized messaging.
Allowing users the option to opt in or decline this form of communication can lower the chance of your business being flagged as spam. Remember, that email marketing is often considered permission marketing, meaning that you are obtaining permission from potential subscribers to send them relevant content and messages.
Once you have set up a clear opt-in form, you can then verify new addresses and remove those that will be invalid or inactive.
2. Conduct email list validation
The whole purpose of better managing your email lists is to remove inactive or spam-trap email addresses. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to differentiate fake addresses or those that might be spam traps which could potentially lower your sender reputation.
Instead, conduct an email list validation by using specific tools that scan through email lists, and can flag any addresses that are no longer being used. These tools can also help check whether an email address can lower your deliverability rate.
Several effective tools on the market help to double-check and validate email lists that can be directly integrated with email marketing software for better streamlining.
3. Create personalized welcome messages
Giving subscribers a reason to stay engaged, and more importantly subscribed ensures that you are giving them a line to hold onto. Send them a voucher or a discount coupon, or even a free gift that they can use on your website.
One study showed that the average open rate for welcome emails is 82 percent, so it’s important to maximize a personalized welcome message.
Once a new customer has signed up for your email list, respond with an enticing personalized message. While these efforts might not seem that important, giving customers a reason to stay engaged with your brand, can pay off in the long run.
Using automation software that can generate a welcome message and send it to new subscribers is perhaps the best way to greet any new customer. Having a welcome message has the potential to translate into higher engagement, and perhaps better click-through rates.
4. Give subscribers communication frequency options
Another effective method that can help to better manage your email lists is to provide subscribers with communication frequency options.
What is this you might ask? Simply put, this is an option for customers that allows them to decide how often or frequently they want to receive communication from your business.
Usually, businesses include this option right at the beginning of their opt-in form. There are different forms that you can use, either on an opt-in form, redirecting them to the business website or landing page, or in a follow-up email.
Using this method helps to categorize subscribers more accurately, giving you a clear idea of which subscribers can be contacted on which days, and the type of communication they want to receive such as marketing materials, discount and sale campaigns, industry news, or new product launches.
5. Work on tagging and segmenting subscribers
One way to ensure that the right message is sent, almost all the time is by tagging and segmenting customers. This will help with data analysis but can ensure that more personalized marketing content is shared with subscribers.
Tagging enables businesses to filter their email lists properly. This gives them a better idea about subscribers’ behavior, the actions they take when receiving emails, their interest, whether they’ve opened new emails, or subscribed to your newsletter for example,
On the other hand, segmentation helps to differentiate between quality leads, any new subscribers, and loyal customers. Segmentation can also group subscribers that are interested in specific segments of the business.
With tagging and segmentation, a business has better insight into how their subscribers came to sign up for their emails, whether it was through a pop-up form, banner ads, or a purchase. In the end, this further highlights businesses where they can focus more of their email marketing efforts to garner more quality leads.
6. Manage effective messaging
One of the many reasons why customers tend to unsubscribe from email lists or campaigns can be that messages are effectively being targeted to the right audience.
That means it’s important to get the right message across, within the first few attempts. Instead of sending multiple follow-up emails that receive little to no interaction from specific email addresses, you can rather remove or unsubscribe these people, to minimize your communication efforts.
Ultimately, this would mean that the right message is being sent to an audience that is likely to interact with the end product.
7. Get rid of bounced emails
For more effective email list management, it’s important to remove any bounced emails, and sometimes this can include soft and hard bounces.
A soft bounce is a temporary error that occurs either due to the receiver’s inbox being full. A hard bounce is when a subscriber’s email address no longer exists, is invalid, or there was a mistake in the spelling of the email address.
By reviewing email addresses that come back, either from a soft or hard bounce, you will be able to clear out any non-existent addresses, or those that cannot end up in receivers’ inboxes.
The soft ones are usually temporary and mean that a mailbox couldn’t be reached at a particular moment, e.g., because the mailbox is full. The hard bounces, on the other hand, are permanent. They mean that the email address is unreachable because it’s, e.g., non-existent or invalid.
8. Don’t overcomplicate unsubscribing
At any given time, users should be given the option to unsubscribe from any email or communication they might receive from your business. Although this isn’t the ideal scenario for any email marketer or business owner, ensure that unsubscribing is seamless, and not overcomplicated.
Give clear and precise instructions to users when they are unsubscribing from your email list. Ensure them that their data and personal information will be removed from communication lists, and if you intend on keeping it, clearly state for what purposes you will be retaining it.
While no one wants to see a customer or subscriber leave, it’s better to keep a clean, and healthy email list composed of the right group of customers you want to engage with.
9. Track engagement with a scoring system
Some email marketing software allows senders to track email engagement with a scoring system. If this is not already a standard feature in the email software you’re using, then you can look for a third-party program that can be plugged into your existing software.
The scoring system will allocate a specific point to individual addresses based on the actions they have taken with the content you sent them. For every action, either a click-through or even a bounce-back is scored.
The better an address score, the better chances you have of engaging with these subscribers. For addresses with lower scores, you can either decide to re-activate engagement efforts or remove them from your email list entirely.
10. Re-engage with inactive users
Before completely trimming down your email list, see whether you can re-engage with addresses that receive minimal interaction. Send a follow-up email to see what action a receiver takes with the email or whether it bounces.
Giving it another shot, before removing these addresses from your list helps you see where you might need to create more personalized messages, or perhaps capture their attention with different techniques.
Kickstarting a re-engagement campaign will help you better see where your efforts need improvement, the number of inactive accounts, and how you can reach these clients before completely removing them from your email list.
Why is email list management important for customer engagement?
When a business takes care of its email lists and spends enough time curating the right content, there’s a possible chance that those same customers will return, either purchasing a product, or service or subscribing to ongoing communication.
Minimizing inactive users ensures that businesses can focus on the audience segment that is most likely interested in the brand or content they share.
More so, clearing out useless email addresses can also give businesses more reliable data on their clientele, which could lead to more personalized emails and marketing campaigns.
Businesses will also be able to achieve higher inbox placement in their subscribers’ inboxes. Email management servers, such as Gmail and Yahoo mostly rely on users to engage with the emails they receive, the less activity these emails receive, the bigger the likelihood they will end up in spam folders, or be permanently removed from their inboxes.
Another reason for keeping these lists well managed is that it helps businesses minimize their interaction with fake, or unwanted addresses, spam traps, or users that no longer engage with any of their content.
Finally, it’s possible that removing inactive addresses could help lower costs. Oftentimes email marketing service providers will often charge a business based on the size of their email contact list and the number of emails they send out.
Yes, a bigger email list doesn’t necessarily mean better quality leads. The more inactive addresses, the bigger chance of potential bounce rates, which could lead to email servers flagging a business address as potential spam.
Proactive email list management ensures that your business reaches the right audience, at the right time. More so, it ensures that the right message is being communicated and that subscribers can remain engaged with your business or marketing materials.
Remember that a bigger list doesn’t necessarily translate into quality leads. Make sure to conduct regular email list inspections, to help remove inactive and spam trap addresses. The better care you take of your email list, the higher engagement you will get from customers, and the better chance you have of turning subscribers into paying customers over the long term.