June 11, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Email lists – show them some respect

We attended a very worthwhile AMA Boston event earlier this week, which featured Chad White from Responsys, who was speaking on the subject of good and bad email marketing practices.

Here are a few of the thoughts he shared related to email marketing:

1. Less is more. A smaller, higher-quality email list is better than a large one with lots of inactive subscribers.

2. Stay out of the ISP doghouse. If you have lots of inactive subscribers, or many of your emails are being bounced, you run the risk of ISPs tagging you as spam, which makes it harder to reach people.

3. Email addresses change. On average, 33% of email addresses will change on an annual basis. So you should expect that many of the addresses on your list will change too.

4. Clean. For the reasons above, it makes sense to purge to from your list many of the inactive folks, as well as all the addresses that bounce. If you really want to keep some inactive subscribers on your list, perhaps you email them less often to reduce the overall percent of inactivity.

5. Skip the double opt-in.  Don’t ask people a second time if they want to opt in to your list – that will only reduce overall engagement with your emails.

6. No trickery with subject lines. Sometimes there is the temptation to write a subject line that’s clever or mysterious to entice people to open your email. More often than not, however, most people will interpret that as annoying.

7. Respect. In the end, it’s about respecting the folks on our lists. Sure, sending out an email is cheap and easy, but time is precious for most recipients of our emails. So if there’s a big gap between the value of what we are sending them and the value of their time, then we perhaps need to rethink about the relevancy of what we are sending them or remove them from our list.