One misconception that is prevalent among email marketers is that overall volume is the most important part of an email campaign.
The thinking is that "the more emails I send - the more people are likely to see it!". This is only true if each and every one of your contacts is going to actively engage with your mail. The fact is, not all recipients will engage with your mail, so this line of thinking is almost always going to end up hurting your delivery.
Recipient ISPs monitor engagement
If they put one of your emails into an inbox, and the recipient does not open it or marks it as spam, then they are much more likely to start putting that email into the spam folders of other recipients too.
The key to success is not to send a brute force high volume campaign, but instead to build a contact list that is highly engaged. Even if that means dropping two-thirds or even three-quarters of your contacts.
Think of it like this: If you send out a campaign to 100,000 recipients, and only 10% of them open the email, that means that 90% of the recipients did not. If you do this over and over again, then after the third or fourth send, 90% of that mail is basically unsolicited. For whatever reason, the recipients are not opening it and to the recipient ISPs, this looks like bad list management. As a result, your mail will certainly become more frequently destined for spam folders.
The solution? Just tackle the situation in reverse. Focus on those 10% openers. If you send a campaign to just those 10%, then your campaign's open rate will jump way up! While the overall volume is lower, the engagement is at a much higher percentage. This will cause the recipient ISPs external reputation of your mail to improve, causing more and more mail to deliver to inboxes. Then, as your reputation improves, you can attempt to re-engage some of those contacts that stopped opening your mail. What you will end up with is a smaller list of highly engaged contacts. Your mail will deliver better, your contacts will open more of it, and you will end up paying less for better results!
Here is a step by step guide you can follow to help make the most of your contact list.
Step 1: Separate Contacts
Each contact has a status. Engaged status means that the contact has opened an email in the last 6 months. Active status means that the contact appears to be real and can receive mail but has not opened an email in the last 6 months. The first step is to make sure you have a segment of each. You may already have some default segments in your account that contain just engaged or just active contacts. If you do not, then create two new segments.
To get Engaged contacts only use this query:
QUERY: Status = 'Engaged'
To get Active contacts, use this query:
QUERY: Status = 'Active'
Step 2: Send Only To Engaged Contacts
On your next campaign, only send to the Engaged Contact segment. But remember that all the other rules apply here. Make sure the emails score well on a spam analysis test, that there is a bold working unsubscribe link, that your organization's physical address and contact info is clearly displayed, that the reason "why" the contact is receiving the mail is also established in the email, and that your email is clear, beautiful, and is enticing to your contacts.
Do this at least once. If you send every day, or a few times a week, it will be to your benefit to sticking to the engaged contacts only for a few sends.
Step 3: Start Introducing Active Contacts
Now, you will want to break up the Active Contacts into smaller lists. Select the Segment with just Active contacts, click on Create and choose the Nth Selection Tool. This tool will evenly distribute contacts into a specified number of lists. The more Active contacts you have, the more lists you will want to create. Using our example of 100,000 total contacts. If 90,000 of them are Active then it may be beneficial to create 9 lists. This will evenly distribute 10,000 contacts into each list. This article details it: How to use the Nth selection tool
Likely you have raised your external reputation a bit by sending only to Engaged contacts, and now is a good time to try and grab the attention of some of those older contacts that haven't opened your email in a while. On your next send, include one of the smaller lists of Active contacts. Any of these contacts that open an email will automatically be added to your segment of Engaged Contacts! And you will have successfully re-engaged them to your mail. Over the course of your next several mailings, rotate through each of the smaller lists. Remember, only include one or two of them at a time. You can try to send to each of the smaller lists up to three or four times.
Step 4: Say Goodbye To Anti-Openers
Now that you have fully rotated through all of your Active Contacts its time to let them go. At this point, if a recipient has not opened one of your emails and been added to your Engaged Segment - then they almost certainly never will. Your Engaged segment holds all of the value. The Active contacts will only drag your reputation down. So, say a few words if you must, but set those contacts aside as they are now dead contacts. And there is actually a really easy way to automate this process by using Contact Pruning. This article details it: How does the contact pruning work
Basically, you need to decide how many emails are worth sending before letting go. This number can vary depending on what you are sending and what the contact has subscribed to. And remember you can always reactivate the contacts later on for another attempt to re-engage them.
If you think you might not be able to resist temptation, delete them from your account entirely.
Now, go gather new contacts using a double opt-in web form that guarantees Engaged recipients from the start.