6. How to keep your list clean?

A clean list is a vital part of email marketing. You should regularly check to see if your subscribers are engaged, and if they’re not, either reactivate them or remove them from your list. Check out these mistakes that email-marketing rookies often make.

Avoid These List-management Mistakes:

  1. Don’t send to a really old list.

    It will make ISPs think you bought an old email list from a spammer. And that would make you a spammer.

  2. Never purchase an email list.

    This one’s worth repeating: NEVER purchase an email list.

  3. Use the confirmed opt-in method on your signup forms.

    This method sends a confirmation email that the subscriber has to click in order to complete the subscriber process. If you just use the “single opt-in” method, your list is vulnerable to prank submissions, typos and spambots that plug in spam trap addresses.

  4. Don’t scrape lists from websites.

    And don’t assume that you can just add “sales@” or “info@” to the front of a company’s domain name to reach someone. It only takes one or two spam complaints from these role addresses to get yourself blocked.

  5. Don’t email everyone in your Outlook address book.

    It probably contains addresses that you don’t even know are in there, like tech-support contacts from companies you’ve requested help from, companies who have sent you email order receipts, friends and family. They didn’t sign up for your company’s email list.

  6. Watch out for trade-show email lists.

    If you want to send direct, one-to-one emails to contacts you met at a trade show, fine by us. But you can’t just import the trade show’s email list into your MailChimp account and send them all bulk email.

  7. Step away from the fishbowl.

    If you’re collecting business cards in a fishbowl for a prize drawing, you can’t subscribe all those email addresses to your email-marketing list. You can individually contact the people to see if they want to subscribe. Or, if your fish bowl has a giant sign on it that says, “Enter to win a prize, and subscribe for email marketing” then you’re probably okay. Just make sure you send your first campaign to those people soon after the drawing.

Monitor Engagement With Campaign Reports

Unlike print or traditional direct marketing, you can actually track how many people opened your email campaigns and see what they clicked. Watching your campaign stats is great nerdy fun, but it’s useless if you don’t understand how the reports work and what you should be doing with them.

Here are the three most popular stats you’ll see in your reports:

We track how many people open or view your email campaign and report is as a percentage. An average open rate is somewhere between 20 and 30%. If your open rate is low, then your subscribers aren’t as engaged as they should be.
We track how many people click links in your email campaigns by redirecting them through our server. Regularly check to see if people are clicking your links after you send out a campaign. If no one’s clicking, you might want to adjust your content.
A bounce means an email couldn’t be delivered. A hard bounce goes back to the sender because the recipient email address isn’t valid. A soft bounce means the recipient no longer has that email address, their inbox was full, or the email service is down. Check to see if you have too many bounces—if so, evaluate your list so you don’t get in trouble.

Our free reports show you an overview of opens, clicks, bounces and more. You can also click further to see maps of where subscribers are clicking, performance advice and social stats.


Reactivate Subscribers

If you’ve ever had a subscription to a magazine, you know that as you approach the end of your subscription, you start getting letters in the mail about renewing. And it’s never just one—you get a series of letters, all designed to move you to action. It may seem like overkill, but research shows that a renewal series is more effective at retaining subscribers than a single notice. Renewals can be lost, thrown away or forgotten in a pile of mail. Sending a renewal series increases the chances that a subscriber will renew, or at least that they’ll make an active decision not to renew.

Keeping someone on your email list may not mean that you’ll see additional subscription or advertising revenue. But if the overall engagement of your list affects its deliverability, it makes sense to confirm that inactive subscribers want to be on your list, and to remove subscribers that have lost interest. Plus, if you have a large number of inactive subscribers, you may be spending more money on your campaigns than necessary. The magazine-renewal principle applies to email lists, too: Email can easily get lost in a cluttered inbox, and sending a series of reactivation notices ensures that the subscriber is aware that his subscription is expiring. Here’s how to set up a reactivation campaign:

  1. Choose the segment.

    Choose the segment.

    Make sure both conditions apply by selecting match all of the following. We recommend that you target subscribers who have been inactive for at least six months. Member ratings of 1 and 2 represent subscribers who have soft bounced and subscribers who have never opened or clicked.

  2. Check link tracking.

    In the second step of the campaign builder, you’re asked to give your campaign a name, a subject and a few other details. You’ll see tracking preferences in the right column. Make sure you’re tracking opens and clicks. Track Opens and Track HTML Clicks are checked by default, and click tracking is required for free accounts.

    Check link tracking.
  3. Create the reactivation campaign.

    Now you’re ready to write your email. For the second and third emails in the series, you can segment your list the same way. Subscribers that click to reactivate won’t match the conditions of the segment, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally sending them subsequent renewal notices. Here’s a generic reactivation series. You’re welcome to copy or revise this text for your own reactivation campaigns.

    Email 1:

    Subject: Do You Want to Renew Your Subscription? 
    *|FNAME|*, You signed up to receive news and information from 
    *|LIST:COMPANY|*. Would you like to renew your subscription? 
    Please take a moment to indicate your preference below: <a href=”link to your site”>YES, I’d like to continue receiving email from *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> <a href=”*|UNSUB|*”>NO, I no longer wish to receive email from 
    *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Thanks, 

    Email 2:

    Subject: Your Subscription to *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s Newsletter Expires Soon 
    *|FNAME|*, We haven’t heard from you about your subscription to 
    *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s newsletter. If you want to be removed from our mailing list, you don’t need to do anything further. If you’d like to continue receiving news and information, please reply by clicking below: <a href=”link to your site”>YES, I’d like to continue receiving email from *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Thanks, 

    Email 3:

    Subject: Your Subscription to *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s Newsletter Has Expired *|FNAME|*, Thanks for your interest in receiving *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s newsletter. Your subscription has expired and you have been removed from our mailing list. 
    If you’d like to renew your subscription now or in the future, click the link below: <a href=”link to your site”>YES, I’d like to receive news and information from 
    *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Sincerely, 

The first notice just asks if the subscriber wants to continue receiving email. The second notice acknowledges the first and only provides a positive action—the subscriber will be unsubscribed if no action is taken. The third email confirms that no action has been taken and the subscriber will be unsubscribed, while providing one last chance to reactivate.

The YES option can link to any page on your site, because simply clicking the link will increase the subscriber’s rating to 3 stars and remove him from the inactive segment. Ideally, you should link to a dedicated page that thanks your subscribers for renewing. It can take up to 24 hours for member ratings to change after subscribers click the link in your reactivation email. The NO option should contain your unsubscribe link, which you can copy above or from any previous campaign you sent.

Regardless of the frequency of your regular campaigns, we recommend sending the reactivation series over three weeks, one email a week. That way you won’t overwhelm your subscribers with email, but the series will be frequent enough that the reactivation request will be on their minds.

When you’ve completed the series and allowed a week for subscribers to reply to the final email, remove the subscribers that still fit the inactive segment from your MailChimp List.

Remove Inactive Subscribers

Once you’ve completed the series, those inactive subscribers aren’t going to remove themselves from you list. Here’s how to remove them:

  1. Go to Lists in the MailChimp Dashboard and open the appropriate list.
  2. Choose View all.
  3. Click Segment and enter the same conditions you used in your reactivation campaign. On the same screen, clickdownload segment to export the segment to a spreadsheet.

    Check link tracking.
  4. Click Remove People. Copy and paste the list of addresses you want to remove from the spreadsheet into the removal field and click Unsubscribe.

    Check link tracking.

A Warning About Reactivation Campaigns

Although this is a great tool for managing your list, unsubscribing a large number of list members at once may raise a flag with the MailChimp compliance department. Generally, an excessive unsubscribe rate is indicative of bad behavior, because it means people don’t like what you’re sending them—or they didn’t opt in in the first place. If you’re receiving warnings about a campaign, we want you to be aware of potential problems. At first, just take the warnings as a heads up that something could be wrong with your campaign or list. If your account is suspended, you’ll have to follow the steps outlined in the email and explain your reactivation campaign to the compliance department. We know it’s a pain, and we apologize for the inconvenience if your account is temporarily suspended. But you’re doing the right thing, and we’re glad you’re taking such great care of your list. Email compliance@mailchimp.com with any questions or concerns.

Also note that the reactivation process only works for users who have a history of sending with MailChimp. If you import a list and go through this process before sending with MailChimp, chances are that we’ll unsubscribe more list members than you’d like. That’s because there’s a rating system in the app that tracks subscriber activity and engagement, and the engagement data isn’t applied until you’ve sent a few campaigns to your list. The more history you have with sending through MailChimp, the more accurate our engagement data will be. You’re now on your way to a clean and well managed list. If you run into issues along the way, contact our support team at mailchimp.com/support.