Beware of Stale Email Addresses

Written by  May 6, 2008

old outdated mailboxIn my last article How to Design an Effective Email Follow Up Campaign, I stressed the importance of implementing a system to stay in contact with your past customers.

One thing I did not mention was the need to make sure the list you are planning on marketing to is fresh. Outdated, stale lists pose a big threat to your business and can contribute to your site being blacklisted by some of the major internet service providers (ISPs); not to mention being shut down by your own email service provider!

Neither of these are good things, and each can turn what would have otherwise been a decent email marketing campaign into a complete disaster for your business.

If you are one of those ecommerce store owners who has been working for years on the internet and over that time has gathered a nice customer base (along with email addresses), yet have failed to follow up with them on a frequent basis, then beware.

People change email addresses all the time and with spam being so prevalent on the internet today, getting a valid email address can at times be tough. Remember this; every person you send your email to has their finger on the “spam” button. If they feel your email is an unwarranted solicitation, you’ll be cast into the spam folder and reported to the nearest “spam cop” faster than you can blink an eye.

Furthermore, if you send out an email campaign, and the vast majority of the emails sent are returned (bounced), then you could be raising a red flag for your email service provider as well. Too many bounced messages in relation to the amount of emails sent can cause an email service provider to feel your list is outdated, dirty, or purchased. Before you are reported as “spam” and get their email service potentially blacklisted, they will shut you down.

So How Do You Avoid a Spam Report

  • Start by working with a clean list. One that is fresh, not out-dated. Remove any addresses on that list older than 12 months old (that you have not been in contact with since that time.)
  • Make sure each of the email addresses on that list asked to be placed on that list.
  • Make your first follow-up contact within a short period of time after the initial transaction takes place while your name is still fresh in the customer’s head and the stage for future follow-ups is set.
  • When in doubt, don’t send to an address you feel might not remember your company or the last transaction.
  • Use your company name or website in the “From” line of all your emails.
  • Remind them why they are receiving the email from you (i.e. they either purchased from you in the past, or asked to receive the information)
  • Give them a clear and easy way to remove themselves from your list, and once removed, never email them again. No matter what. Professional yet affordable systems like Constant Contact have this feature built in to protect you.

Although it may be tempting to tap into an older list of past customers, if you have not been in contact with them frequently use caution. Following some simple guidelines, and respecting their privacy will ensure your email campaigns are effective, and your company remains in good standing.

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