It’s true, a clean list means fewer complaints, a better return on your marketing dollars, higher engagement from your list, and even a better brand image for your company.
(If you have a website and no list, please go here to find out why you should start building your list today.)
Before I get into how to clean your email prospect list, let’s make sure we’re on the same page…
What do I mean by a “clean” list?
I’m talking about removing the people on your prospect list who no longer read your emails. If you’re trying to build a list, it may seem odd to remove anyone, but hear me out.
4 Reasons Why You Should Clean Your List
- Better results! Because a higher percentage of your list is interested in your company, a higher percentage will click on your offers.
- Lower email marketing costs since many email service providers charge customers based on the size of their list.
- You’ll get fewer complaints because people receiving your emails want to receive them.
- A better connection with the remaining leads because it’s easier to understand customers who engage with you.
Now that you know the importance of a clean prospect list, let’s go on…
When To Clean Your List
If you purchased a list—or your list is older than a few months—it’s due for a cleaning.
Clean your list often—even as much as once a month—if you:
- Have a massive list – especially if you purchased it.
- Get a ton of new leads every day – The faster your list grows, the more often you need to clean it. Think of it like pruning a tree.
- You offer the coolest opt-in you know of. If this is the case, good for you! But, keep in mind that people may opt-in just to get your offer. These can add up fast so you might need to clean your list more often.
- Use “free” as a tool to get email addresses. (Unqualified leads are attracted to ads with the word “free.” Avoid it to avoid freebie-seekers.)
Otherwise, cleaning your list a few times a year is good enough.
Start With A Clean Prospect List
- Don’t buy a list or add people to your list. Instead, make sure they actually want to be on your list by offering a killer offer. They give you their email address; you give them a PDF, a report, or access to your newsletter.
- Require a double opt-in. To make sure people on your list really want to hear from you, send an email after they opt-in asking them to confirm their subscription. Note: Many email service providers already require this or offer it as an option.
- Give away something relevant. When creating your opt-in offer, spend some time considering your target market. If you’re selling lotion, you wouldn’t want to give away a report about how to sell lotion. You’d only attract competitors who want to learn how to sell their own lotion! Instead, you’d want to give away something your potential CUSTOMER finds valuable.
- Value your list. Create and follow a schedule for sending emails so your readers know what to expect. Make sure your emails provide value, not just a sales pitch. Also, send from a real person’s email address, NOT from your company or someone named “info.”
How to Clean Your List
Once you have everything set up and your list is growing, it’s time to start cleaning. Here are some great ways to clean up that list:
Manually Remove Stale Email Addresses
One way of cleaning your list is to go through it and remove “bad” emails manually. These could be duplicates or improperly formatted email addresses. They might also be email addresses beginning with words like, “spam,” “junk,” “info,” or “support.”
This process is time consuming, but many email service providers offer tools to help with the process.
Or you could try a reactivation campaign…
Separate Your Qualified Leads
No autoresponder series goes on forever, so what happens to prospects who reach the “end” of your campaign? Do you consider them “not-interested”? What if they just didn’t like your first offer but do want to hear from you and may buy something else?
There’s only one way to find out. Ask them!
Send an email asking your readers to click if they are still interested in hearing from you. Be sure to tell them who you are and how they got on your list. Also, mention what’s in it for them if they stick with you.
The people who respond are likely highly qualified prospects! Engage with them more often and offer them other products or services they need.
For the remaining names, keep them for now. Try other offers periodically to see if you can get them to take interest. If they don’t respond after six months, give one last “get off the fence” push and then let them go.
Survey Your Prospect List
Again, the best method here is to ask them. Set up a survey or prompt them to reply directly to you.
Try asking, “What is your biggest question about ____?” (The blank should be your topic.)
Look forward to finding out what your readers want to read about, but also what you can sell them! If the majority of your readers have the same question, why not create an information product answering it in great detail?
This technique may seem dramatic, but if someone doesn’t open and read your emails, they’re not likely to buy anyway. Remove them from your list by sending a “last chance” email.
Some marketers use subject lines like, “Ignore this email and you’ll never hear from me again.”
Here’s a sample “unsubscribe request” from Ramit Sethi, the author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.”
The positive side to sending an email like this is you’ll find out who’s serious and who isn’t. However, people always want what they can’t have so you may have some people who stick around just because you ask them to leave. Either way, they’re likely to open your emails to see what outrageous thing you’ll do next!
With a clean email list you’ll have a better understanding of your audience, more engagement, impressive results, and higher profits. And, now you know how to build a clean email list—and keep it that way.
Your turn! Did I leave anything out? What other techniques do you use to clean up your email list?