Email marketing databases decay at an average rate of 2% per month, which means you can expect your email list to depreciate roughly 25% per year. How can you tell which addresses in your database have gone bad (and protect your online reputation in the process)?
Email data goes bad for a number of reasons: your contacts’ email addresses change with job turnover, they opt-out of receiving emails from you or they abandon that old Yahoo email they used for filling out website forms.
So, why should you care? After all, sending emails is pretty low-cost, especially when you compare it to the printing and postage costs associated with direct mail. What does it matter if a small segment of your database has gone sour?
You should care because properly scrubbing your list will: 1) protect your domain’s online reputation and 2) reduce the likelihood of being blacklisted as a spammer.
Non-compliance with the CAN-SPAM act—which sets the rules for commercial email messages and gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them—can spell out tough penalties for violations, like losing your online credibility and/or getting fined (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars).
Now that we have your attention, here’s a quick rundown of how to stay in the clear:
Since we’ve convinced you to treat your email database with the same vigilance you would for your direct mail lists, what next steps should you take?
For starters, get in touch with your data or direct mail vendor. If they have the data programming manpower to determine the validity of your postal mailing lists, then they should have the resources to determine if your email lists are in healthy form.
Much like they can identify bad postal addresses through CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) and NCOA (National Change of Address), there are email verification providers who can help you determine the validity of the emails in your database.
We’ve pulled together a few key take-aways for email marketing best practices:
Increase the overall quality and deliverability of your email database
There’s a lot of moving parts associated with email deliverability, and one of the biggest is sender reputation. Maintaining a positive sender reputation is critical to the success of your email program, but if it’s less than stellar, it can take weeks - months, in fact! - to get it back into shape.
Identify invalid email addresses and SPAM traps
The presence of spam traps on an email list is another reputation ding and can lead to serious deliverability issues, like mail being bulked or blocked altogether. This is most commonly spotted on purchased and rented lists, a huge email marketing no-no and just another reason why we stress the importance of growing your list organically in the first place. (Plus, weeding out spam traps from your subscriber list can be a major headache.)
Reduce the likelihood of becoming blacklisted
When a company gets blacklisted, it seriously slows down communication with customers, prospects and the outside world in general. To protect yourself, confirm opt-ins, practice-real time address validation and apply a sunset policy for unengaged prospects.
Improve your online reputation by avoiding problematic email addresses
Protecting yourself against the costly fallout of problematic email addresses before they enter your database will not only help you avoid potential blacklisting, it can decrease your bounce rate on new subscribers.
An email marketing campaign is only as good as the list you’re sending it to. Sending to an accurate and active audience will help you successfully improve your deliverability and avoid the dreaded spam folder.