Email Lists: clean as you go or just keep sending?

animalstyle

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Curious how you guys run your email lists - specifically lists built that are attached to a respectable, branded money site.

Specifically I just went through the process of setting up a system within my email system (ActiveCampaign) that tags each user with a last active date when they open an email or visit my site (any visit, not just clicking site links). I also set up a cleaner that looks for contacts which have last active dates of greater than 120 days. The cleaner tags them and then unsubscribes them.

I was cruising along thinking this was a great idea as it will constantly trim the fat off my list, keeping me from over paying for keeping a bloated list afloat. Then I started wondering if what may happen is I end up trimming people out that are active, but have blocked site/open tracking.

Not being familiar with this territory I thought it would be wise to ask around here and see what you guys do:
Is it worth trimming your list to keep costs down?
Is it a shot in the foot and instead just keep blasting?
If I should be trimming, is 120 days a good target?
 

Ryuzaki

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I think if you're worried about trimming the fat to save money, you're overpaying for email sending. That'd be stuff like MailChimp where they have a lot of "services" attached, versus something like Amazon SES that's barebones and you have to get all set up, which is around 10 cents per 1000 emails or something.

You don't want to just "keep blasting" though. Trim the fat based on unsubscribes first and foremost, and then you need a bounce handler that'll clean the list for you. So hard bounces get auto-unsub'd (meaning the email address no longer exists) and soft bounces are retried and scrubbed eventually based on your settings. A soft bounce would be "email account is full" or temporarily unavailable, etc. But say... it gets a soft bounce on 3 messages across a 15 day period with a soft bounce occurring once with 5 days in between them. That email is then scrubbed.

Yeah, activity as you've described it, I'd probably scrub them from the list eventually. I don't know about 120 days. Depends on how frequently you mail.

You def want to keep a clean list so you can get real metrics like open rates, click rates, and conversions from there using your analytics software. You need this especially if you plan on selling email blasts.
 

animalstyle

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I guess you could say I overpay for Active Campaign when you look at it from just the mail send perspective, but I use all their automation tools pretty heavily to do lots of business actions and harvest UGC using their services. I've tried this many other ways using plugins and other send services like you mentioned and ultimately settled on this config and it has treated me well.

At the end of the day I suppose the cost of the service is relative to the value of the list and how much revenue it generates. Thinking out loud... even now with minimal revenue flowing it has been worth its weight in gold in terms of branding, building awareness, and gaining new links.

Right now I am sending once a week. I've been manually cleaning bounces and unsubs, they are minimal but the list is also small at this point. As it grows I'll look into doing some more auto scrubbing of these like you mention.

Thanks for the insights you've got me thinking in a better direction here @Ryuzaki
 

eliquid

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You might want to add a few more tags to prevent the people blocking open tags.

Things like:

1. Did they click a link on my site? Would need to tag your links on your site
2. Have they ever responded to an email. They might have open tags blocked, but have they ever emailed you or replied to an email?

I know it might sound small potatoes, but I use Thunderbird and have all tags not active by default. So I might look like someone that never opened an email, but I'll manually come to your site later and click around.

Also, I would keep emailing.

Ive found that we might send an email out and it looks good/fine, but if I send it out a second time or third time, we get even more people seeing it and clicking and responding.

A lot of people won't see that first email. Myabe it went to promotions tab, maybe they were on vacation, maybe they forgot to open, etc.

Sending again later always works better.

For that reason, I would keep sending.
 
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Something that hasn't been mentioned is you have to clean your list or you'll get kicked off of whatever sending software you're using. They're not going to tolerate high bounce rates or fails because it wastes bandwidth, burns their IPs, and it's a pattern that spammers use. They buy lists with zero opt-ins and go for it. You want to stay as far away from all of that as possible, especially if you're sending from your main domain's address and not a burner domain.