Email marketing is a powerful business growth strategy but sometimes we end up with poor results because of invalid contacts on our lists.
If you are online without doing list building, what happens is that you’ve simply cut off a huge portion of your market.
The reason is that despite the rapid growth of mobile messengers and chat apps, over 3.8 billion people use email.
A usage study by Adobe revealed that Americans spend an average of five hours a day checking emails. These and many more overwhelming email statistics give us a huge dose of enthusiasm when it comes to email marketing.
For us as bloggers, an email list with real people on board is an indisputable source of traffic. On Steven’s list of 25 ways to get more traffic, he mentions email marketing as a valuable tool for driving traffic to your website.
Neil Patel in one of his articles proved that having real people on your list is a must. He was able to generate over 13,500 quick reads of his blog post with a single campaign sent to his list.
Lilach Bullock in her post on 12 Ways to Increase Traffic states that a good list and an email marketing strategy can bring you a steady stream of traffic
But email marketing results are being threatened in all industries. Not every email collected by bloggers is valid and that’s a serious issue to deal with.
The two big questions are:
- How do we make sure we all collect valid email addresses?
- What are the steps to take to maintain a list of real people?
- Simple tips to build a list of real people
- Maintaining real people on your list
- Soft bounces vs Hard bounces
Simple tips to build a list of real people
By the time we provide answers to the two questions above, we would have dealt with the issue of invalid contacts on our email list.
Here is the bad point…
Invalid contacts generate email ‘hard bounces’ which may negatively impact your sending reputation. The percentage of how often your emails get “bounced” back to you should be reduced to its lowest point to avoid degrading the deliverability of your future sends.
Here are two tips to make sure you only collect valid addresses from real people:
#1. Enable double opt-in
The only way to assure quality data across all of your subscription forms is to enable the double opt-in option. The good news is that this feature is available with all popular email marketing tools.
Using double opt-in, every email that’s submitted to your list will be sent a verification link. Opening and clicking this link by the subscriber tells the email tool that the contact can receive your messages.
Enabling confirmed opt-ins will create a solid impenetrable barrier to invalid contacts while making your email list more engaged and active.
I know some marketers argue in favor of auto-confirmed or single opt-in lists. While the advantage of quickly creating a large list seems attractive, it is more important to raise quality over quantity.
With double opt-in enabled, you will automatically eliminate addresses entered with errors, legitimate contacts added by someone who does not own the email address, addresses submitted by bots, etc
#2. Permission-based opt-in
Allowing your readers to consent to sign up to your list is a huge step towards creating a list that complies with existing policies.
There are many spam methods used today to harvest thousands of addresses around the net. While this may allow you to quickly create a large list, you will obviously run into serious struggles with invalid addresses, complaints and massive unsubscriptions, sending reputation damages, IP blacklisting, SPAM reports, etc
Avoid using any email scraping tools. Most of these email extractors I have come across are keyword-based. That means they are able to harvest addresses from website contact pages based on the keyword specified.
It sounds like you are going to build a targeted list with these bots. But that’s not where we have a problem. We want to have a list of real people but what these scripts do is collect both valid and invalid contacts which is a big threat.
Now, let’s deal with maintaining a list of real people.
Maintaining real people on your list
We found out above how it’s possible to only allow valid addresses from real people through to your list. What about making sure the list remains in good health?
Once someone signs up to your list with a valid address, there is absolutely no guarantee that the contact will remain valid in the next few months or even years.
A couple of things happen along the line, leading to some valid emails addresses becoming invalid. Let’s see some of these:
1 – The domain name of contact gets dropped
If a reader signs up to your list with his email firstname.lastname@example.org and the domain businesstopics.com expires and gets abandoned by the owner, definitely, the email johndoe@ will become invalid.
2 – Some contacts get deleted from their servers
There are many reasons email addresses get deleted or simply disabled. People are constantly moving from job to job and from office to office. These movements are often accompanied by changes in email addresses.
I worked as a software engineer in Cameroon United Forests here in Douala. I had a personal email address email@example.com. When I left the company in 2015, that address was deleted completely from their server.
Obviously, I had signed up to plenty of lists during the 8 years I worked with this company. Once my email was deleted, it automatically became invalid on all those lists.
Weeding bad contacts off your list
As an email marketer, you must constantly verify your list to get rid of these invalid contacts because they hurt your overall marketing experience. Norbert has an exciting post on the importance of email verification.
This is the main activity to maintain a clean list and avoid paying for invalid contacts and consequently damaging your results
There are two ways to verify your list:
1 – Use the internal filtering system provided by your Email Service Provider (ESP ) to remove the invalid addresses.
But this is where you may run into serious problems. When I started building a list for my blog, I, unfortunately, signed up for a bad service. It messed me up. The bad part is that the service quit the business and disappeared, leaving no option for me to recover my lists
If you don’t know what to work with, I recommend you take a look at these email marketing services published by Roshan, one of my blogging friends. The folks over at Moosend have also published a list of free email marketing services you may want to check out. Many of these popular tools have features to allow you to perform some filtering to get rid of unwanted contacts.
2 – Use an external tool: There are several list cleaning tools out there. My ESP, MailerLite has an external tool I use often with great results.
Soft bounces vs Hard bounces
When it comes to maintaining the health of your list, boosting deliverability, open and click rates, these two types of bounces may pop up. It’s important to know what makes them different.
Soft bounces are caused by emails that are temporarily unavailable. Sometimes, the recipient’s inbox is full and the message is returned. In other cases, the destination email’s server is temporarily down. And if you send a mail with an attachment too large for the capacity of the destination contact, it will be returned.
Once the issues related to the temporary unavailability of these contacts get sorted out, the soft bounces will cease. So you don’t need to remove soft bounce contacts from your list
Hard bounces are a serious concern. These are caused by addresses that are permanently not available. We already touched on some of the reasons above. Because hard bounces negatively impact your marketing results, make sure you delete the addresses involved.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comment box below.
Enstine Muki is a full-time blogger, Coach and Certified Cryptocurrency Expert. Check out his blog for expert tips on how to succeed online.