This is Part One of a three-part series dedicated to helping email marketers make the best of their campaigns through proper list management and hygiene.

During 2010 I consulted with many clients concerned that their delivery results were not what they expected or used to be, and with how it was affecting their bottom line. 

While there are many reasons for delivery failures, the majority of problems usually result from tainted lists.  That’s right!  A dirty list can cause your delivery to go south quickly and cost you significant money that could’ve been used on other marketing initiatives.

You may wonder… how can a dirty list affect my business financially?  To answer that question, let’s examine the impact of a dirty list, how to keep it clean, and the benefits of doing so.

Part 1: The impact

As an email marketer, your subscriber list is the most valuable asset and must be handled with care.  It can become “tainted” or “dirty” when it contains addresses that cause major delivery issues.  Here are some examples…

  1. People who changed their email address without your knowledge
  2. Addresses that never existed
  3. Subscribers who generate complaints (for many reasons)
  4. Subscribers who no longer open or click your emails (loss of engagement)
  5. Spam trap addresses gathered from rented, purchased or unknown list sources, as well as append and ECOA services

Addresses that cause delivery problems can taint your list over time because of poor list maintenance or due to inadequate acquisition practices.

ISP Perception

To an ISP, lists that contain these type of addresses can easily “look like” spam.  Here are some subsequent actions ISPs may take:

  1. Automatically limit or block the number of messages accepted due to subscriber complaints, invalid addresses, spam traps and other metrics
  2. Place messages in the Spam/Bulk/Junk folders based on some of the same factors mentioned above
  3. Use smart technology to look at how subscribers treat your messages (opens, clicks, mark as spam, mark as not spam, etc) and block your messages based on activity
  4. Use anti-spam companies (blacklists) to block IPs and/or domains for sending to spam traps (fake email addresses)

The result

More than 40% of your subscribers may never get an email about your event, product or offer due to how ISPs receive your soiled list.  If you think about it, that’s a good chunk of revenue loss, not to mention the cost, time and effort you put into creating your campaign. 

Clearly, we can see there is no benefit in keeping a list that promotes delivery issues.  After all, you ‘re in business to make money, not lose it!

In part two of this series, I’ll discuss how you can whip your list into shape and keep it clean.

Until next time, take control of your delivery!

Patrick Knight
Director of Delivery