If you have not reviewed all the email addresses you have collected so far, you probably must do so on a priority basis. Close to 22% of email lists become redundant every year and if you haven't checked your list in more than 4 years, you are probably sending emails to addresses that are no longer valid. In addition, regulatory authorities require you to seek the consent of email address owners before you mail them, especially after the GDPR rolled out last year.
Cleaning your email list involves a lengthy process in which non-responsive addresses are removed, and active addresses are reached out to seek consent. While most agencies recommend cleaning email lists every six months, it is better to update and review email lists every three months.
These are the tell-tale signs of an outdated email list:
Email list cleansing, also known as email scrubbing, consists of these steps:
1. Understand why emails are bouncing
You may have noticed that a lot of emails are returned by servers with a message stating the reason for bouncing. Emails bounce if the domain names are typed incorrectly or if the email address does not exist. Sometimes, emails may also be blocked by servers upon the addressee's request. Going through all the bounced emails will help you assess which email addresses need to be deleted or corrected. If emails are being returned because you have typed email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, it is important to fix these minor errors. MailChimp and other tools can help you understand why your emails are bouncing. Bounce rates will help you to identify problems with your campaign as well, so that you can take necessary actions.
2. Get rid of unwanted email addresses
There are a number of email addresses that should no longer be on your list. This includes duplicate email addresses, and addresses of those who have already unsubscribed from your list. You should also remove people who have been marked as spam. Use Constant Contacts or MailChimp to find duplicates, spam and unsubscribed email addresses and delete them. As you may already know, people continuously mark emails that they n longer wish to receive as spam, or they click on the unsubscribe button. This list gets updated every day but you should get rid of these addresses at least once a week. Remove all the email addresses that you purchased as well because they never consented to receive emails from you to begin with.
3. Reengage with the addressees to seek consent
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was rolled out last year, explicitly states that all personally identifiable information needs to be stored only after seeking explicit consent from the individual. This includes email address, phone number, address, etc. If you have any email address stored in your list, it should comply with GDPR regardless of whether the individual is a resident of the European Union. This is because, if that individual travels to the E.U., he/she is considered a resident, even if it is temporary. Virtually every email address you store should thus comply with the GDPR provisions. Try to reengage with addressees and ask them to click on a button confirming they wish to receive emails from you. This could be sent out as a special communication as well. After all, emails that consent to be contacted convert better than random emails that are stored in a list.
4. Manage your cleansed list better
Once you clean your email list, it is important to manage it on an ongoing basis. Segment your list and send relevant campaigns to the receivers and monitor the success via email marketing tools. Engage your addressees with more interactive content and continuously ask them to respond to you or take some sort of action. This may seem hard at the beginning but it is certainly a good strategy as you will be continuously seeking consent this way. In addition, your list gets more effective and conversion-friendly. List management is an ongoing process that requires both manual and automated effort. Speak to a data cleansing service provider to help you manage your email lists better.
Clean your email list for better campaign results and regulatory compliance
By engaging in email scrubbing or email list cleansing, you can improve the open rate, reduce spam and unsubscribe rates, and enhance the click rate for your campaigns. Most importantly, you will be able to meet regulatory requirements such as the GDPR by seeking regular consent of your subscribers. You will no longer have to worry about paying a hefty fine or losing your message in your subscribers' spam folders. If you haven't started to engage email list cleansing, start today.