To date, there is no one "surefire" way to keep bad email addresses off your email list. Despite your best efforts otherwise, from time to time you will still have a bad email address pop up. This alone will not cause you to be flagged for spam. But your efforts over time to maintain your list can make a huge difference in the success of your email campaigns.

A Word About "Bounces"

"Bounces" is somewhat of a catch-all phrase today. Basically, a "bounce" is simply an undeliverable email address. The reasons why that email address becomes undeliverable can vary. Over time, if you do not work hard to resolve the bounce issues you are having, you run the risk of being flagged as a "spammer."

Here are five timely tips to keep your bounce rate low and your delivery rate high!

Tip #1: Check the accuracy and validity of each email in your list.

This first tip is something that is totally within your control. Here, you just need to periodically schedule a time to check each new email that has been added to your list (especially if you have an auto-subscribe feature running that doesn't include a double opt-in). You are looking for typos and spam email addresses. Remove all of these and instantly freshen your list!

Examples of typos: ".co" instead of ".com", missing punctuation such as no "@" sign or no period before the ".com", and inaccurate punctuation such as "!" instead of an "@" sign.

Examples of spam email addresses: any email beginning with "postmaster", "sales", "spam", "noreply" or other similar catch-all names.

Tip #2: Look closely at your bounce rates and reasons.

As mentioned earlier in “A Word About Bounces”, there are many different reasons why an email address may bounce. "Soft" bounces generally refer to temporary reasons, which may include a full mailbox or the recipient's email server being down for maintenance. "Hard" bounces generally refer to permanent reasons, such as an email address that is no longer being used or a high firewall setting that has flagged any email from your URL as spam mail.

Most email management software will continue trying to deliver soft bounces for up to three tries before giving up. Hard bounces are generally moved to the "undeliverable" category after one failed attempt. You should be able to view both categories of bounces in the reporting feature of your email management software. Some software will even break out the reasons a bounce is labelled as soft or hard, giving you greater control over next steps to resolution.

In most cases, the only way to resolve a hard bounce is to track down the recipient at their new address or get a different email address from them that isn't blocked by a firewall. For soft bounces, it is usually best to allow your software to try again to deliver before taking any further action, since often a second or third attempt will result in a successful delivery.

Tip #3: Remove or ( ideally re-engage with your inactive subscribers.

When someone stops interacting with your email campaigns or leaves your email list for reasons other than a hard email bounce, of course you will want to know why! There are a few ways to gently and politely re-engage with inactive or departing subscribers.

  • Send them a special email that includes an offer/discount.
  • Send them a confirmation email to ask if they still wish to be on your list.
  • Send a short survey asking why they no longer engage or are leaving.

Tip #4: Continue to engage via email campaigns with your active subscribers.

One easy way to keep your email list active and clean is simply to send emails at least once every four weeks. This will not only keep subscribers aware of you and less likely to mark a future email from you as "spam", but it also ensures you have frequent data to help you tailor your content to your subscribers' interests and needs.

Each time you send an email campaign, you get data via bounce rates, open rates and click-through rates. Open rates tell you how many subscribers on your list actually opened your email. Click-through rates tell you how many of the subscribers that opened your email interacted with it further. This data does not only tell you what your subscribers are most interested in, but also helps you find the right day of the week and time of the day to reach the most subscribers.

Tip #5: Continue to grow your email list.

There are many techniques you can use to continue to grow your email list. However, purchasing an email list is seldom one of them. Often lists for sale are outdated and full of emails that will bounce. Rather, do your best to verify each subscriber through a double opt-in which requires the subscriber to verify that they have requested to join your mailing list.

In Summary: Email List Maintenance Made Easy

The process of keeping your email list squeaky clean is one that is ongoing. Luckily, there are email list management software tools that can make it a simple and quick process! If you would like to receive more information, please contact us.