When the health and value of an email list deteriorates, things can go wrong very quickly. It can feel like you’ve just gotten very unlucky, but the reality is that list owners make their own luck when it comes to the health and value of a list.
Recently, we’ve offered up tips on how to maintain your email list and overall program, but it’s just as important to know what mistakes you can make that will erode the worth of your list. In our opinion, these are the three worst mistakes you can make if you want to maintain the long-term health of your list:
Not sending regular emails – Imagine you give someone your email and ask them to send you a note. Then, six months later, they write to you. You barely remember who they are, and you’re probably wondering how they got your email. You’ll probably delete it or ignore it.
What’s annoying in a personal acquaintance is dangerous as an email marketer. Over time, people forget they’ve signed up for your list or their email addresses change. That means if you aren’t regularly sending a newsletter or other correspondence to your list, you’re risking spam complaints from people who no longer want to receive your emails (or don’t remember signing up) and generating excessive hard bounces when you do send.
Consider this as an example, if you go four months between sending emails, you will find:
From a technical standpoint, ISPs hate to see irregular and non-smooth traffic. Two years ago, a free file-sharing internet service decided to send their first newsletter to their whole list (they had never done it in the past). They dropped a few million emails in one shot, where they normally sent in the neighborhood of tens of thousands each day.
As a result, they got blacklisted for several weeks by a major ISP that though they were spammers, and their services were discontinued for the same period, because even their “service messages” no longer arrived in the inbox.
Putting the cart before the horse – Once you have a strong list of subscribers who trust you and find your emails valuable on the retention side, I would absolutely recommend making acquisition email a part of your revenue generation strategy.
However, we’ve met list owners whose eagerness to monetize their email assets led them to sell their email list or rent it to less than high quality advertisers very early in its growth. As a result, their list became less valuable to them in the short term and became very difficult to earn long-term revenue from as well. This happens both because selling your list is a bad idea and because they tried to monetize their list too early.
Once you build value through your retention program and know what your subscribers want, you can look into expanding your list to the acquisition side in a smart way.
Not properly handling unsubscribes – This should be a no-brainer. Not properly handling unsubscribes has consequences from a deliverability standpoint (when those unsubscribes start marking your email as spam) and from a legal standpoint (CAN-SPAM requires processing unsubscribes within 10 days). Similarly, you should immediately unsubscribe anyone who reports your email as spam (but you also need to handle feedback loops – so called FBL – it’s techie; feel free to contact us to talk about it).
Any other mistakes that you would add to this list? Or any stories about what happens when you commit these mistakes?
Kevin Deseuste joined the ividence team at the beginning of 2011 and directs the implementation and evaluation of advertiser campaigns and publisher lists for the U.S. market. He brings to the team an expertise in monitoring and enhancing deliverability and response rates from both the publisher and advertiser perspective. Prior to joining ividence, Kevin worked in Business Development at technology solutions provider SCC.
He can be reached at email@example.com.