How To Clean Your Email List

12 December 2008  
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Everyone’s talking about value these days.  If you want to get real value from your email marketing, you should clean your email list at least once every 3 sends.  Why?

  1. To get a better picture of the real size of your list and your readers.
  2. Which means your stats are going to be much more accurate and true.
  3. And of course, if your variable cost of send depends on the number of subscribers, you don’t want to be paying for those ones who aren’t reading you – now do ya?

Here’s how I go about it – both for my own list and my clients.

After every send, keep a record of non-responders.  These are people who may or may not have received your email.

  • They have have received it and didn’t open, ie. just scanned it in the preview pane of their email client.   Note that this is tending to be on the increase because many email clients are blocking images or requiring users to click to download.  Email marketing software reports are generated by an image file being popped back to the server.  If the recipient doesn’t download the images, then this file doesn’t get popped and the stats get a bit messed up.
  • Or they may have received it and it didn’t even register amidst the mass of other pressing emails they have to deal with.
  • They didn’t receive it.  It got stuck in their spam filters.  They are oblivious to your amazing offer, article, or whatever else you put in your email newsletter.

After every third send, take your non-responder list and send them a personal email, ie one from your own email address that you normally use and that should be familiar to them.

  • Tell them that you’ve noticed they’re not opening the mail your records would imply that they either don’t wish to receive it or are not receiving it.   Write this bit friendly, avoid big brother language! And of course don’t take it personally if they are not interested in what you have to say!
  • Ask them to email you back if they wish to continue receiving it.   You’ll get a real kick when they do!
  • It can be helpful to add a link to the latest email newsletter so they can remind themselves what they’re missing.

The ones who email you back are those who wish to continue receiving the email.  The ones you hear nothing from should be removed from your list just before you do the next send.   Then do and do it.  Delete their names from your list.  I know this can feel painful, all that hard work building your email list, but it’s worthwhile because it means you are emailing an audience who want to hear from you which means more accurate reporting, and less expense on cost of send.

Now you know what to do next week if you’re kiling time in the office after a long lunch.  🙂


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