List Hygiene: Marketing Sherpa Email Summit 2013 Flashback

The Marketing Sherpa Email Summit is heavily focused on providing attendees with takeaways to apply in your marketing as soon as you get back to the office--or even before.

The conference provided best practices and real-life examples for the lifecycle of your email campaigns, starting with list acquisition. Matt Byrd of WeddingWire used his presentation to highlight a topic that is extremely helpful, but also stressful for marketers: removing unengaged subscribers from your lists. This topic was recently highlighted by Al Iverson but I wanted to share Matt's experiences as he took on this challenge. To provide some context, WeddingWire is the nation's #1 wedding network designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. They provide online planning tools, a huge directory of reviewed wedding vendors and a platform designed for small businesses. And email is essential to their business.

One day, when he was still relatively new to the company, Matt found an abnormally high bounce rate. Too high. In investigating the problem, he uncovered quite a few complaints--though they came from subscribers who had opted into WeddingWire communications. With some additional digging, what he discovered was that if a subscriber does not have any open or click activity for a four month period, they were much more likely to register a complaint even though they had opted in months earlier. These subscribers avoided engagement right up until they complained. While not ideal, it was information they could work with.

Then came the stressful part: removing those hard-earned subscribers from the list. But the benefits clearly outweighed the risks, and Matt moved forward. The results were promising for all of us. Not only did he see higher open and click rates (with a more engaged list) but the total number of opens and clicks was the same or higher than before. To further confirm that this was the right decision, complaints dropped dramatically--more than 75%!

With any of the recommendations at this or other conferences, you certainly need to consider your own situation. It may be that your subscribers have lulls in engagement much different than WeddingWire's or perhaps you won't have the same complaint rate. But with ISPs becoming ever more vigilant about subscriber engagement, you can positively impact your business and your marketing efforts with list hygiene efforts like these.

Looking for more email insights? Check out The 5 Proven Email Practices to Drive Revenue. Tour.png
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