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The Worst Things You Can Do to Your Email Database

by aschmidt

databaseThere are dozens of factors that go into a successful email marketing campaign, and while it’s always good to be well-versed in effective email marketing activities, you should also be aware of what not to do. Below are some of the worst things you can do to your email database; ignore these campaign killers at your own peril.

1. Fail to Purge Your List of Duplicates, Typos, Misspellings, Etc.

Maintaining good email database hygiene is an essential component to keeping bounce rates low, and it will also keep your list from becoming over-inflated with invalid email addresses. If you fail to scrub your list of duplicate email addresses, recipients will receive two identical email messages, which can come across as careless or insincere.

In addition, typos and misspellings are often very easy to recognize and fix (e.g., bob@gmailcom, johnsmith@aol .com, sandy#yahoo.com, etc.), and by cleaning up these simple mistakes, you can improve the accuracy of your mailings.

2. Pay No Attention to Bounced Emails.

Some of the email addresses on your list show no signs of typos or spelling errors, but they can still come back as invalid. Don’t let those email addresses just sit there and gather virtual dust; delete them from your list so that your campaigns will be more targeted, and your URL won’t risk getting blocked by anti-spam filters.

3. Hold On to Dead Weight.

Every email marketing database will have some degree of “dead weight”–i.e., subscribers who are not engaged, or are completely inactive. They delete every message you send, and they basically show no signs of having any interest in what you have to say. While it may sound a little counter-intuitive to proactively delete subscribers from your list who haven’t personally opted out from your email communications, it can do wonders towards improving the quality of your list and boosting your ROI.

Before you fully “cut the cord,” initiate a re-engagement campaign first to see how they may respond. Ask them if they are still interested in receiving email communications from you, and be sure to include an easy way for them to unsubscribe if they so choose. If you get no response, it’s safe to say that you can purge them from your list. After all, it’s much more effective to send an email to 1,000 engaged subscribers than to a list of 5,000 recipients where only a small percentage are active and responsive to your communications.

4. Rent or Purchase an Email List.

You’ve seen the advertisements before–“Instant access to 50,000 interested prospects!” “Push-button ROI!” “Crazy conversion rates!” More often than not, you’re buying junk email addresses that have been churned through the marketing chain several times over. Not only does purchasing/renting an email list destroy your credibility and violate the rules of permission-based marketing, but it could potentially get you into legal trouble with your email service provider.

Most popular email marketing services such as Aweber, Constant Contact and MailChimp have strict policies against using purchased or rented lists, and even if you were to somehow escape their wrath, your emails would more than likely get blacklisted by your recipients’ Internet Service Provider (ISP). In short, steer clear of rented or purchased email lists entirely.

5. Ignore SPAM Complaints.

If your email messages are repetitively being marked as SPAM for one reason or another, it can tarnish your email reputation score with various ISPs. Nowadays, it is often much easier for people to mark your messages as SPAM than it is for them to go through the process of unsubscribing from your email list, and unfortunately they will often go the path of least resistance.

Situations like this definitely deserve vigilant attention, because even if the recipient voluntarily opted in to your email database, their subsequent SPAM complaint can wreak havoc on your email reputation score. Make sure to closely monitor your database for any complaints, and promptly remove those users from your email list.

6. Put No Effort Into Segmentation.

Speaking of SPAM, nothing says “We don’t care” quite like an email message that is completely irrelevant to the target recipient; this happens when marketers fail to give any thought or effort to segmentation.

Email communications that are “one size fits all” can easily come across as impersonal and superficial, and can damage your credibility with recipients. Take time to segment out your list based on relevant factors such as gender, interests, geographical location, etc., so that you can create a more personalized message that will better resonate with your target audience.

Even the most earnest email campaigns can be derailed by failing to pay attention to these unfortunate database management missteps. Use the above list to conduct regular “checkups” on the health of your email marketing list, and don’t hesitate to make adjustments where needed. If you do so, you will position your campaigns for greater levels of response, and your ROI will improve as a result.

Need some help getting a handle on your email database? Let 2060 take a look under the hood.

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