Spring Cleaning: What is Email Hygiene and Why Is It Important?
Imagine you are a gardener tending to your rose bushes. It’s a beautiful spring day. The sun shines while birds flit and twitter high above your head. You look down at the roses surrounding you and examine the leaves, buds, blooms, and wilting parts that must be cut off in order for the plant to flourish. Now imagine you are an email marketer. You are indoors, hunched over your computer, and you are evaluating your deliverability rates. The same way a gardener must prune their flowers for their plants’ health, email marketers must know when to remove inactive subscribers from their email lists for the sake of boosting engagement. This is email hygiene.
Email deliverability is the success rate at which emails are delivered to subscribers’ inboxes. A high deliverability rate ensures a brand maintains its reputation with its customers and a good standing with ISP providers. Additionally, high email deliverability ensures that your emails are actually being read, and that they are not labeled as spam. Whether or not a subscriber opens, responds to, shares, or moves your email to another folder affects deliverability. While purging your subscriber list of inactive users to protect your deliverability may seem straightforward, there is a method that industry professionals, such as Gmail’s Sri Somanchi, advises instead.
Instead of deleting subscribers, Somanchi suggests a process called “ramping down.” In this method, an email marketer would take an inactive subscriber off the main mailing list and only send to them targeted content and offers intermittently. If you email your subscribers daily, cut frequency of emails sent to inactive users to weekly. Conversely, if you email your engaged subscribers weekly, cut the frequency of emails to the non-responders to monthly. After three to six months, send these inactive users an email asking if they would like to continue receiving content. If the answer is no – or if there is no response – delete them from the mailing list.
Phasing out non-responders ensures that they have a chance to re-engage with your content before you drop them completely, while those who remain silent are removed from all mailing lists. This method saves email marketers the risk of losing business and simultaneously upholds the brand’s email marketing quality.
One way to maintain list hygiene is a double opt-in. A double opt-in is when, after a potential subscriber has signed up to join your mailing list, you send them an email confirming that they would like to receive your content. They are not added to the mailing list until they click the link in the confirmation email. While this method will reduce your opt-in rate, it is more likely to be beneficial to your overall engagement. Handwritten sign up forms are discouraged because not everyone’s handwriting is legible. You may end up pushing content to the wrong address, and this puts you at risk of being marked as spam. It is safer to collect emails electronically and allow individuals to confirm the spelling of their emails. Finally, beware of buying email lists. This is a surefire way to accumulate a large number of spam complaints.
Email marketing is more than just distributing content to as many people as possible. Proper engagement factors largely into a legitimate email marketing campaign. The simple steps outlined above will help you maintain an engaging relationship with your customers that is beneficial to you as a brand and them as a consumer.