Summer Slim Down: Best Practices for Shedding Unwanted Contacts

By EJ McGowan, General Manager of Campaigner

With summer comes beach season, a time when many warm-weather vacationers hope to shape up and slim down in order to look and feel their best when all eyes are on them.

Regardless of whether they have any pounds to lose, email marketers can take a cue from these fitness-oriented folks to focus on slimming down their company's contact lists.

Good list hygiene is crucial for email marketing success. Major email service providers (ESPs) are constantly trying to prevent undesirable or irrelevant email from reaching users' inboxes, and they do so by monitoring which messages sent from specific senders have the most and least subscriber interaction. If emails linger unopened for too long by too many people, providers begin to flag anything from that sender as immediate spam, preventing even engaged contacts from receiving that company's messages. Therefore, it is crucial that Web professionals have lean-and-clean lists of contacts who are at least somewhat likely to interact with campaigns. Read on for some best practices on how to approach slimming down contact lists and shedding those stubborn, unwanted contacts.

Provide Motivation

Everyone needs a little motivation to get active once in a while and email contacts are no exception. Marketers should launch re-engagement campaigns for contacts who have been minimally responsive to their messages in the last six months with the goal of winning them back. After these efforts, they'll want to remove anyone from the list who is still unengaged.

Don't Add Extra Weight

As tempting as it may be to add large groups of new contacts, marketers can get burned by this bad behavior if they don't know specifically where these lists came from. Purchased lists are rife with honeypots - decoy email addresses that ESPs set up just to catch habitual spammers. Maintain lists comprised of only contacts who opted in one way or another.

Exercise Different Areas

As important as hygiene is across an entire master list, marketers need to analyze deliverability rates within specific email domains. Brands should use reporting features to look at domain statistics and see if their messages have higher open and click-through rates from recipients with email addresses at one provider (Yahoo, Gmail) over another. Then, they can leverage these insights to approach certain segments more cautiously.

Encourage Custom Diets

Quality subscriptions are the key to quality contact lists, so marketers should confirm any new email subscribers with a double opt-in. Additionally, brands should let contacts choose the type of content they want to subscribe to - from blogs or newsletters to quizzes or promotions. This specialized content diet will ensure that contacts who opt-in will remain engaged as they've chosen the content that suits them.

Monitor Progress

Just as dieters regularly hop on the scale to check progress, companies will want to consistently review feedback loops for complaints. Anybody who is actively denouncing a brand's messages should be immediately removed from all lists, as these are the most dangerous recipients for deliverability rates.

Find the Perfect Regimen

No one diet or exercise routine provides the best results for everyone, and, in the same way, every marketer will have to discover which list hygiene practices work best for his company. It's important to test different combinations of segmentation to see how to most effectively trim a contact list to reach business goals. Once a company discovers a routine that works well, it will want to leverage automation to ensure that this perfect regimen is strictly adhered to. By using the practices outlined above, marketers will be able to identify and shed unwanted contacts and encourage healthy email campaigns with high deliverability rates.