Everywhere you look, there’s an overload on information about getting fit, eating right, keeping healthy, making positive lifestyle changes…Well, the same goes for your email list. With bounces, address changes and unsubscribes, a company can lose up to one third of their subscribers per year! If you are not keeping up to speed replacing old email addresses with new ones, your email marketing business will soon feel the impact.

Regular email list hygiene is vital to your deliverability. Here are some tips to get your email list in tip-top shape:

  • Check for typos

This may seem stupidly obvious, but many bouncebacks are because of spelling mistakes in the email addresses. Subscribers often misspell domain names (like hatmail.com or gmial.com) or make mistakes in their own names. An easy fix for this is to use a double opt-in on your subscriber form, which requests subscribers to verify their email addresses before being added to your list.

  • Remove or try to win back inactive contacts

Inactive email addresses should be examined after 6 months of inactivity, but that’s not to say you should just remove them from your list. You need to try and engage with the subscriber, to find out the reason for their inactivity. You could send a “we miss you” email with an incentive or discount to encourage a purchase; or just a polite message asking if they would confirm if they’d like to remain on your list before you take them off it. Another tactic is to ask if they would give feedback as to why they are inactive – like irrelevant content, too many emails, not enough? You can use this information effectively in your business to prevent further departures.

  • Beware of recycled email addresses

Some email providers, like Yahoo, for example, recycle email addresses after 12 months of no activity, assigning them to someone else. If you still have that email address on your list, the new owner will receive your emails, even though they never opted in to receive them. You run the risk of that person flagging your emails as spam, which can hurt your deliverability.

  • Maintain the working parts of your list

Ensure you send a mail to your list at least once a month. Not only will it keep your readers engaged, but will also inform you (through bouncebacks) which email addresses are no longer valid. You can also use email validation services like Kickbox, FreshAddress or BriteVerify to help you determine which email addresses are legitimate and which are not.

Check out the open rates – it could be that if people aren’t opening your emails, it’s because the subject lines need help – call a copywriter!

  • Keep expanding your list

A very obvious way is to create a sign-up form on your website or blog. It’s a good idea to include a link to this form on your personal email signature. You can collect business cards at expos or events, or get email addresses in return for an incentive-based scheme, like pre-sale review emails, or discounts or shopping vouchers.

You could also try Twitter Lead Generation Cards, which requires the reader to click on the call to action then submit. Their details are automatically filled in for them.

Keeping your email list in fine-tuned shape is a healthy choice for your business. Now you just have to worry about getting yourself in similar shape…