How To Keep Your Email Marketing List Fresh (and avoid getting blacklisted)

Email Marketing and Your Contact List.jpg

Every architecture, interior design, landscape and design-build firm should be using email marketing. If you send marketing email to prospects and clients you’ve probably worried about deliverability rates, maximizing effectiveness, and feared a drop because of mistakes.

There are many ways to improve your list and your deliverability rates, but the most common is improving list hygiene. Email list hygiene is about periodically scrubbing your email lists. Keeping your email marketing list current starts with acquiring subscribers correctly, engaging with them and then deleting disengaged or uninterested subscribers. Low engagement rates hurt your deliverability. The key is to use proper tactics when cleaning your lists.

The Rules of Email Marketing and Deliverability

Your reputation as a sender is one of many factors that determines if your email is delivered but ISP's also decide if your email will reach its target at the subscriber level, not just the sender level. Much like Google search results take into consideration a users past actions, ISP's take into account what each email subscriber has previously shown interest in. ISPs use algorithms to track hundreds of data points to determine if an email makes it into your recipient’s mailbox.

Some of these data points include:

  • Open rates, if a message is labeled as important, whether the sender is in your address book and if you’ve replied to or opened messages from the sender previously
  •  How many messages are marked as spam
  • Spamtrap hits
  • Reputation of the sender, including IP, address, and other signals
  • The email’s content (especially if it trips a spam score tester)

These are just a few of the data points! In fact, in the eyes of most ISPs only about one in twenty emails have value and deserves to be delivered!

So What Does Affect Deliverability?

While none of the four top ISPs monitor clicks, they do consider other factors. The first is engagement. If a subscriber opens your email, replies to it, or moves it to a folder, those are all positive signs, if your email is deleted without opening, that’s a bad sign. Another bad sign is if your email is marked as spam. Today, ISPs are sophisticated enough to monitor if someone’s standard method of unsubscribing is to mark a message as spam. Fortunately, abuse of the spam button won’t ding your reputation.

So how do these factors apply to marketing list hygiene?

They give you clues as to how to clean your list. For example, if a subscriber doesn’t click on your emails, it may not be advisable to remove them because ISPs don’t look at clicks. That means eliminating non-clickers won’t help regarding deliverability. If a subscriber is just deleting your emails, on the other hand, it’s a matter of time before their ISP stops general delivery.

Other ways to improve your list hygiene and deliverability rates

Remove Inactive Subscribers – Inactive subscribers cost you money and time and rarely results in sales. If a subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked one of your emails in six months remove them.

Double Opt-in Method – Qualifying subscribers at the point of the first contact will help your deliverability rates. Use a “double opt-in” strategy. Double opt-in consists of sending a confirmation email to all new subscribers asking them to click a link to confirm their subscription. Until they click the link, they’re not subscribed. While double opt-in can lower your opt-in rate by 20-30%, it tends to lead to higher engagement as subscribers are asked to confirm their interest.

Don’t Buy Email Lists - Purchased email marketing lists will get you blacklisted. You run a very high risk of being reported for spam, and they often have a hidden a spam trap. Don’t use purchased lists. Take time to build your own.

When Building Lists, Avoid Handwritten Forms – Trade shows can be an excellent source for building your list. When gathering names, rent the card reader or use a tablet or laptop and fill out the information for the prospect. Handwritten sign ups lead to 10-20% undeliverable emails due to illegibility.

Your contact list is your most valuable marketing asset. Ensure that it's accurate, clean and up to date to avoid being reported for spam or being blacklisted. Increased deliverability, and high-quality targeted content will turn your email marketing list into your best source for lead generation.


About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.