A Prescription for a Healthy Subscriber List

Cathie McFarren, Deliverability Analyst

In November and December, I’m sure you dug deep into your subscriber lists with the hope of snagging additional revenue. You may have even emailed subscribers that hadn’t responded in months, or even years.

It’s time to stop blindly blasting and give your list a good checkup. Why? Because by using an “unhealthy” or inactive list, you’re at a greater risk of being flagged by the ISPs and having your hard work and clever campaigns sent right to the junk folder.

So how can you create a healthy list and start the new year primed and ready for success? Here are a few tips for maintaining a quality list of engaged, active subscribers and avoiding any unnecessary deliverability emergencies:

Don’t Buy E-Mail Lists – And Purge Any You Bought in the Past 

It’s the first cardinal rule of email marketing! Shoppers don’t like unsolicited email, and they certainly don’t want to be on any lists they never subscribed to. Always let users make their own choices! By doing so, you’ll avoid sending to spam traps, an ISP technique of using abandoned emails and addresses to sniff out spammers.

Consider a One-Time Opt-In

It’s much simpler than it sounds. Search your database for those people who haven’t opened or responded to your emails, and ask if they want to continue receiving your messages. If they don’t respond, delete them. Mentally, this can be a tough thing to do, especially if you’ve been measured on list growth. But it is highly effective at increasing revenue per email and can even build some good will. Just because someone doesn’t want to receive your emails doesn’t mean they don’t want to shop with you. And they’ll remember that you cared to ask about their preferences and respected them.

Don’t Automatically Subscribe E-Receipt Recipients

An e-receipt program isn’t an opportunity to grow your list carte blanche. If you haven’t already, ask customers who sign up for e-receipts whether they want your emails. Don’t assume that they do.

Put Your Unsubscribe Front and Center

Don’t hide your unsubscribe link in tiny print. This only aggravates people and hurts your brand image as well. Go ahead and place that unsubscribe button at the top of your emails. You could even bold it and add a splash of color. Your commitment to respecting your customers’ preferences should only enhance your brand image and encourage customers to shop your brand in the future.

Offer a Preference Center

Ask your subscribers how often they’d like to be contacted and what messages they’d like to receive. This gives subscribers a sense of control over what information they receive and when. It also allows you to gather more subscriber data, which you can use to further target and segment the content of your messages.

Users are awash with emails, and it’s only going to get worse in 2016. So make it clear when someone is subscribing to your emails. If they don’t realize they’ve signed up, they’ll be more likely to report your emails as spam once you start sending. And make your messages relevant and memorable. Don’t force shoppers to abandon your brand and look elsewhere.

Authentication is Key

This year, ISPs are really going to pay attention to authentication. Be sure your records are intact and up-to-date so they know who you are. Keep an eye on important records, such as DKIM, SPF, Sender ID, MX and A records. Include DMARC if it is applicable to your brand.

Once you initiate these changes, watch your metrics. You should begin to see complaints and bounce rates decrease as revenue per email trends upward. And don’t fret too much about losing some subscribers. If they have a stress-free experience with your brand, you might just get them back. Trust me … your list’s health and your brand’s reputation will thank you for it!