If you’re not managing your marketing list, you could be getting blocked from major email hosts.
What do I mean by that? If you’re sending emails to any major mail carriers, like Gmail or Yahoo! accounts, and the recipients file a complaint with their email host, every single email you try to send to these carriers could be blocked.
Don’t freak out!
I’m not trying to scare you, be a bully, or create a panic. What I am trying to do is save you from ruining the hard work you’ve already put into your email marketing (or any work you plan to do in the future). After all, you’ve spent years building your email list, so you don’t want to linger in spam filters and get blocked by major providers.
Need help getting your email list in better order? Follow these guidelines to ensure you are using and managing your email list right.
Respect Your Contacts’ Privacy With Better “Opt-In” Practices
The core principle of email list management is this: your contacts must agree to receive email marketing from you. This agreement is called "opting in."
The default arrangement for your list should be "opting out." That means that, without explicit permission, the contacts on your list must be treated as if they have denied your right to email them.
Why? Because sending marketing emails to someone without his or her permission is considered spam!
Just because you have a “list” does not mean the customers, clients, or patients on that list agreed to receive your marketing materials. Did you ask them? Did they sign anything saying it was okay? If not, then they are not opted-in, and you should not be marketing to them.
I should also mention that you should never purchase, scrape, or rent contact lists—even if the seller says the contacts have opted in to receive marketing messages. This is a really bad practice that will only land you in trouble.
Don’t assume that your contacts want to opt in. If you have a personal contact list you want to market to, ask for permission first. Provide a link for those contacts to sign up. If they do not choose to sign up, do not market to them!
It’s also a good practice to occasionally ask the people on your list if they still want to receive your emails. Lists go stale over time, and you want to focus your email communication on the people who are most interested in hearing from you. Also, if your emails have lapsed or subscribers haven’t heard from you within about six months or so, you’ll need to reconfirm your list.
The rules of “opting in” extend offline, too. When you ask new contacts for an email address, you should also ask for consent to send information via email to that address. If someone asks to be removed from your mailing list via an offline conversation, make sure you do it immediately.
If you have a huge list or have been maintaining your contact list for a long time, tightening up your “opt-in” policies might seem like a gargantuan task, but it can also be a costly issue to ignore. If you are being reported as spam or irritating your recipients, then your ability to do any e-marketing or emailing to anyone can be shut down.
Think Outside the Email Inbox
Your website, privacy policies, and even personal conversations can play a part in a successfully managed email list, so sometimes you have to “think outside the inbox.” Here are some tips for all the extra touches you need behind the scenes:
- If contacts ask to be removed from your mailing list via online chat, in-person conversation, or any other means, remove them from the list immediately.
- Have a protocol in place to make manual changes to your contact list in a timely manner. In DSS, it is fast and easy to change settings for individual contacts on your list.
- Contacts should have the ability to unsubscribe automatically by using a link in the email itself. However, if contacts email you to unsubscribe, take the time to double-check that they were really removed from the mailing list. If they are classed as “inactive” in DSS, that means the unsubscribe button was clicked, and they will no longer receive emails. If not, you’ll need to set them to “inactive” manually.
Basic Care & Maintenance Tips for Your Contact List, Campaigns, and Tags
When people lose control of their email lists, it’s usually because tasks piled up and got out of control when they weren’t paying attention. Here are some tips and guidance for making sure that you’re always on top of your email list management:
- Clean up your list regularly by deactivating contacts when messages bounce back as undeliverable.
- Maintain one list! If you have multiple lists, it can get confusing to keep track of who opted in and who did not.
- Use tags to market appropriately to the right contacts. Do not send all your emails to all contacts.
- Don’t tag contacts in multiple campaigns where they are getting tons of email. Tagging is a great way to organize your list, but it’s easy to accidentally overwhelm contacts who fall under multiple tags. Don’t burn them out!
- Don’t delete contacts. Instead, set them to “inactive” in DSS so you retain their information.
- If you are migrating your list from another database, there are bulk email and validation services that can determine whether or not your list of email addresses is fully valid and deliverable.
- Weed out inactive contacts that have not engaged in the campaign by email clicks or opens. Because subscriber engagement is a huge part of getting emails into the inbox, ISPs will often begin to deliver campaign emails with low engagement rates to the spam folder. ISPs will also block the domain and IP addresses used to deliver the campaigns.
Beyond those basics, there are some things to keep in mind as you create your emails and campaigns, too:
- Make sure you update the “From” field in DSS with a relevant email address for your company. Don’t keep the default “Do-Not-Reply” email!
- Don’t tag contacts for a new campaign if it isn’t really relevant to them. For example, if someone signed up for your car accident book, you shouldn’t assume that he or she is also interested in your “Take Your Dog to Work” day at the office.
- Make sure your contact information is in your emails. Include your email address, phone number, and website address.
- Make it easy to be removed from the list. The emails you create in DSS already have the mandatory “unsubscribe” link, so it is already taken care of.
- Ask readers to “whitelist” you by adding you to their address books.
- Do not send to your list too often. Staying in touch too much creates email fatigue and makes your emails seem spammy from repetition.
- Avoid tons of graphics and links that can slow download times.
- Include a text version of the email. Not everyone has their email set up to receive HTML versions.
- Don’t use sloppy HTML code, which can be produced from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML.
- Don’t create an HTML email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text. Spam filters can’t read images, so they assume you’re a spammer trying to trick them.
- Test the content of your emails to ensure they do not go into spam folders.
- Don’t send a test to multiple recipients within the same company or use the word “test” in the subject line. Email firewalls often assume it’s a spam attack.
- Set expectations for the reader when they sign up for one of your campaigns. Let your contact know what will be in the emails, how often will they receive them, and how to opt out.
Write Emails That Really Communicate
The content of the emails you send to your list matters. If you write emails that look or read like spam, then spam filters will filter them out. To help you avoid those kinds of problems, here is a list of things you shouldn’t do when writing emails:
- Don't excessively use exclamation points!!!!!!!!!
- AVOID USING ALL CAPS, WHICH IS LIKE SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS VIA EMAIL (especially in the subject line).
- Avoid fonts and text colors that distract from the content or make it hard to read. Find out how to build emails that dazzle in DSS.
- Don’t waste your contacts' time. Give them good, quality information in your email and link back to even more information on your website. Don’t try to say everything in the email!
- Avoid using salesy terms. Search “email spam terms” for ideas of what to avoid, and see the list below for some additional suggestions.
- Do not use deceptive or misleading subject lines. Find out how to write great subject lines for your email campaigns.
Finally, here is a list of words you should avoid so that your emails aren’t targeted by spam filters:
And finally, here is a suggested list of words to avoid to prevent your email from being targeted by spam filters:
Affordable, Click Here, Apply Now, Additional Income/Extra Income, Dear Friend, Free, Home Based/Work from Home, Mortgage Rates, Opportunity, Remove, Save $, Weight Loss, Advertisement, Business, Cash, Cheap, Commodity, Congratulations, Credit, Deal, Debt, Degree, Disclaimer, Discount, Free, Gimmick, Guarantee, Income, Ink, Investment, Joke, Load, Marketing, Merchant, Money, Obligation, Offer, Opt, Opportunity, Outstanding, Payoff, Price, Profit, Promo, Promotion, Rate, Refund, Rich, Sales, Save, Shop, Spam, Spree, Stock, Subscribe, Trading, Wealth, Win, Winner, Winning, and Won.
Managing Your Email List Is Worth the Extra Effort
I get it. I hate to receive a big, fat list of things I can’t do and little things I should do better. But I’m actually just looking out for YOU. Mismanaging your email list or ignoring it while it falls apart in the background only undermines your efforts—and I want to see you succeed.
If you haven’t seen how DSS can help you build professional-looking emails or manage your email list, contact us to schedule a demonstration or ask us about the DSS CRM features for email marketing. If you’re already a DSS user and have questions about managing your emails better or using advanced features in DSS, give us a call at 888.886.0939.
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