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4 Ways to Maintain Your Growing Email List

maintaining your email listYour permission-based email list is like a Philodendron plant: You want both to grow in size and expand their reach. And, like a Philodendron, a growing email list needs some care and maintenance along the way to ensure that healthy growth continues. Giving a little TLC to your list also helps reinforce that you’re continuing to send relevant information to each of your subscribers. In this guide, we’ll cover a number of ways you can maintain a healthy email list.

1. Segment your list
When you have a larger list and send everything to everyone, you’re basically “spraying and praying” that people open your messages. Creating smaller, targeted lists and letting subscribers choose which list they want to be on allows them to tell you what they want to hear. And it means you can send more relevant emails to those who want to receive them. A few examples of how businesses or organizations could segment their lists:

  • Nonprofits could have separate lists targeting members, donors, volunteers, and their board of directors.
  • A clothing retailer could offer mailings targeting those interested in men’s, women’s, or children’s apparel.
  • Restaurants that offer live music on the weekend could segment their lists by those interested in only dinner specials and those interested in the musical acts.
  • A travel agent could offer an email on tropical vacations, ski packages, or vacations with children.

You can choose which lists are available for subscribers on your Join My Mailing List and email preference page (for example, a nonprofit wouldn’t want to have the board of directors list open to the public). Other options include segmenting your list by anniversary or birthday month, or by how often subscribers want to hear from you (for example, weekly, monthly, or quarterly).

If you already have a big list that you want to segment, you can let subscribers know about the new options in upcoming campaigns and ask them to click the Update

Profile/Email Address link at the bottom of your message to see and select which available lists they’d like to be added to. You can also put a copy of the Update Profile link in the body of your email to make it a more obvious call to action.

An online survey can also be used to ask subscribers what information they want to receive from you and how often they’d like to get it. The survey results can be used to create the new list segments within your Constant Contact account. The survey route is good if you’re not exactly sure how you want to segment your list. The data you get back can be used to identify trends and get you pointed in the right direction when it comes to better targeting your subscribers via list segmenting.

2. Prune the bounces
Every time you send an email message, there are going to be a few that get bounced back because the email address is no longer valid or has a typo in it, the recipient’s inbox is full, or the person has an out-of-office responder activated. Take a look at your bounce report to see why your messages are being returned. For the vacationers, you can ignore the report. But for hard bounces such as a non-existent addresses, you should:

  • Verify that the address is correct. If it is and you think the report is a false positive, you can always follow-up with the subscriber individually to see if he or she is actually receiving your message.
  • For those addresses that are truly non-existent, move them to your Do Not Mail list. Doing so will eliminate the subscribers from future mailings, help lower your bounce rate, and improve your open rate.
  • 3. Trim those who don’t engage

There are two schools of thought on trimming your list. Some say if a subscriber hasn’t opened your email in over a year, delete them from your list and watch as your open rates rise.

The other side of the argument is that if people don’t ask to be taken off your list, you leave them where they are as you never know when someone is going to re-engage and potentially become a customer or donor. This is where a reengagement campaign strategy comes in (see the next section). It can offer a way to encourage those quiet subscribers to become active again. The decision to trim or not to trim is yours.

4. Initiate a re-engagement campaign
Maybe you just need to prod those chronic non-openers who are seemingly ignoring your targeted email messages. One way to do that is through a reengagement campaign. The basic gist is to send a couple emails to your least engaged segment of subscribers that will prompt them to take some action to show you they’re still interested in hearing from you. If they don’t respond, you can remove them. Depending on your industry and content, how you go about this can vary greatly.

One very effective method is to just be upfront and honest about the whole thing. Send three messages, one per week, to the segment you choose. Most marketers would select those who haven’t opened or clicked the last few campaigns, but there are situations where it would be a good idea to choose the segment by age, sending this to the contacts you’ve been emailing to the longest.

The first two messages can explain that you’re doing a little “spring cleaning” in an attempt to be a better marketer, and that you want to make sure you’re sending email only to those people who really want to receive it.

To confirm people still want to hear from you, use the “Confirmation Email” template and ask recipients to click a “confirm permission” link at the top of the email. Within Constant Contact, this is included in the optional “permission reminder,” which you would need to turn on. Marketers refer to this as a “soft confirm,” since people aren’t required to click the link. This allows you to send more than one of these to give people multiple chances to confirm. Finally, you would send a third and final “confirmed opt-in” campaign to the list.

You could send this last message to the same people you sent the last two emails to, and our system would know to only deliver it to those who did not click to confirm in the previous emails. This would be the final chance for those people to stay on the list. If they don’t click to confirm their interest from the confirmation email, they would automatically become inactive on your list and future mailings would not go to them — unless they clicked that link at a later date or re-subscribed via a Join My Mailing List box.

Additionally, when you use Constant Contact’s Confirmation Email template, anyone who does not click to reconfirm their interest will automatically go to an “awaiting confirmation” status on your list and you would not be charged for them.

Another method for re-engagement would be to offer a deal to see if people are still interested in your emails. For example, a retail business, restaurant, or spa might first send an exclusive coupon just to their least engaged or longesttenured contacts stating that they need to click through to their site to print it out. The following week, they could send another deal just to those who didn’t click through on the first week. Then, in the third and final week, they can send a confirmed opt-in campaign to the folks who didn’t click through on either of the previous two messages.

This campaign can say something like, “We noticed you haven’t been taking advantage of our deals. We ask that you confirm your desire to stay on our list.”

After outright cutting those who don’t engage, or performing a re-engagement campaign, you will undoubtedly have a smaller list, but it will be more targeted and full of engaged, happy customers. You can be sure the folks on your list really want your email and won’t be marking it as spam. You’ll benefit from fewer compliance problems (for example, unengaged users marking your email as spam) and better delivery, since you’re eliminating possible spam traps from your lists.

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