Why are Up-To-Date Customer Email Addresses So Important?
The key to a successful, long-term email marketing campaign alongside a good email marketing automation strategy and engaging content is deliverability. Deliverability should be any email marketers primary concern, and it should go without saying that there’s no deliverability without correct email addresses.
The greatest threat to email marketers is the risk of being blacklisted, and while most email marketers will find themselves running afoul of one or two spam filters eventually, the best way to reduce the risk of being blacklisted is to understand how they function and how you can avoid being added to them and reducing the chances of your emails actually ending up in your recipients inbox.
How to Fall into Spam Traps and Get Blacklisted
All email systems and platforms use Simple Mail Transfer Protocols which receive and deliver emails from outside systems and defines how email servers can send messages to each other. Marketing emails come from different hosts to their recipients and therefore the email will be processed by a mail transfer agent or operator which is responsible for routing emails to the correct receiving mail server. It’s at this point spam is flagged by the operators and your reputation and deliverability takes a hit.
It is common knowledge that we live in a world of spam, but many email marketers make the mistake of not paying attention to how you end up blacklisted as spam. Blacklists operate via networks of ‘spam trap email addresses’ which identify domains and IP addresses which send unwanted commercial emails. Spam traps are email addresses which are not expected to receive emails from marketers, or any other senders. This may be due to the email address being dormant for usually over a year, or email addresses with typos, for example using hitmail.com instead of Hotmail.com. Sending emails to ‘typo traps’ is indicative of poor list acquisition and maintenance strategies on the marketer’s behalf.
You’ll also run the risk of getting blacklisted if you’re caught out by a ‘pristine trap’ which are fabricated email addresses that have been created and never signed up to any email communications. By sending an email to a pristine trap, the blacklist operator would assume the sender is acquiring addresses without permission.
How To Avoid Deliverability Issues
No matter whether they’re signing up for an account or for your newsletter, the first thing you have to make sure you do is send a confirmation email. If you’re not confirming the email addresses you’re adding to your email list, well, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. But manual confirmation isn’t the only way to make sure you have the right email down.
- Manual Checks
All you have to do to perform a manual check is go through your mailing list, whether it’s on a CRM or not, and double check each email address (time permitting). There are going to be some fairly obvious mistakes like Hitmail/Hotmail, or jhonathan/johnathan. Take a look at their stats: do they ever open your emails? If not, make what you think to be the most likely correction, and see if they do.
- Engagement Based Sunsetting
This is the practice of removing email addresses from your mailing lists if they haven’t clicked or opened one of your emails over a long duration of time. Before determining an appropriate length of time you’ll want to consider things such as your sending frequency and business niche. If a customer hasn’t ever opened one of your emails, that’s a sure sign that either:
A) they’re not particularly interested in your product/service
B) you’ve got the wrong email listed
Although you’ll see a reduction in the size of your mailing lists, you should be focusing on quality, not quantity and focusing on engaged customers is far more likely to see you yielding a profit from your marketing strategy.
- Instant Address Validation
This can drastically improve the efficacy of your campaigns by ensuring the validity of email addresses at the point of sign up by looking for common domain typos and mistakes. Compared to confirmed opt-in’s this method creates far less friction between you and your new subscriber, it requires no extra engagement on their behalf and puts you in good stead for catching their typo! Instant address validation is entirely built-in to your site, and is something that customers expect these days, so you’d be remiss without it.
- Avoid Attachments
On a more general note, avoiding attachments will significantly reduce the risk of your emails getting blacklisted, as recipients and email clients tend to get a little suspicious. This is especially the case if you’re not listed as a trusted sender, for instance if the attachment is in the first ever email you send to a customer. And for customers who have opened a few of your emails, but generally don’t engage with them, adding an attachment is only adding another layer of friction between them and your business. Adding attachments isn’t going to get you blacklisted all on its own, but think: if you got an email as part of a marketing campaign, and it had an attachment in it, would you download it? Probably not.
Be aware that no single preventative measure can ensure you end up on zero blacklists and that the best strategy is different for every business model. Finding the balance to the success of your marketing strategy will happen over time. However, a proactive strategy is the only way to ensure you’re doing everything in your power to avoid getting delisted and reduce the length of time you spend sending emails to dead addresses.
Positive Effects of Proactive Mailing List Management
Email deliverability is determined upon factors both in and out of an email marketers control, such as if your email is hosted on a shared server which is also hosting an email address which has been found guilty of spamming. Each time your emails are identified as spam this will end up increasing your spam score; the lower your score means better chances of your emails being delivered. A high score is highly detrimental to your server’s sending reputation and will eventually have you blacklisted. So when you take that into account as well as everything else above, you can see that it’s not all in your hands, but you still have the power to make your email marketing campaigns more effective.
The data you accrue and analyse from your email marketing campaigns is crucial information which can be used to optimise your email campaigns in the future. By removing dead, invalid and dormant email addresses from your mailing lists, you’ll gain a much more accurate reflection of your email open rates alongside a better insight on how well your email campaigns are performing. So even though it doesn’t sound too important, double checking for basic errors and outdated emails really can make a huge difference!