Keeping Your List Clean

Over time, all lists are subject to disarray -- even yours!

Time passes, people change their email addresses and don't tell you, emails bounce back, and non-responders pile up. If you're not careful, ISPs may interpret such behavior as abuse... and flag you a spammer.

Let's face it, a dirty email list is dangerous. If left unchecked, the fallout can reflect negatively on your brand and drain vital energy from your business.

If your list does get messy over time, it's wise to recognize the symptoms. Here are a few notorious indicators:

· Drab delivery rates. If successful deliveries regularly fall below 85%, your list smacks of mucky muck. It's probably time to open the hood and perform a tune up.

· ISPs flag you. Low deliveries go hand in hand with higher bounce numbers-and eventually ISPs will detect and label this as unsavory behavior and flag you. These flags jeopardize your ability to attain and maintain whitelist status.



· Caught in a spam trap. Of course you don't intend to spam, but dirty lists actually are breeding grounds for spam traps. Without proper bounce management your old outdated lists may contain invalid addresses, which ISPs can covertly reassign as spam traps. Be wary of this-it could cost you.

· You become a "marked domain." Sans whitelist status, ISPs may simply shun your domain. Here are a few pitfalls:

o Your large deliveries end up in the trash or blocked
o Spam traps tag you
o ISP bots restrict your email batch volume
o Before you know it your e-marketing program is in trouble
The gist: 'ouch' in the profits department!

Clearly, a dirty email list can drain your entire business-profit, productivity and public relations. The secret to being clean involves a combination of prevention and plucking.

Quality control
The best source for new opt-ins is always your own customer list. To cultivate cleanliness here, collect opt-ins from all customers and disclose how you intend to use their information through your privacy policy.

Send "Welcome" messages to solidify the opt-in process. This tactic also helps to create brand awareness, set expectations for future marketing communication, and build trust with new subscribers; it is a critical, foundational step in your email program.

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