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5 ways to stop annoying your email subscribers

Email inbox anxiety is a real thing, and it’s no wonder why. In 2019, nearly 3 billion emails were sent worldwide per day. This onslaught of online communication has become so severe that the U.S. has made achieving “Inbox Zero” into an annual observance. It’s called National Clean Out Your Inbox Week (NCOYIW), and Americans just celebrated it from January 22 to 28.

NCOYIW is all about helping email recipients control the information overload coming at them every day. As an email marketer, you can help in that effort by making sure you are following best practices that will not only help customers sort out their inboxes but put your company on recipients’ “good” list.

So perhaps now’s as good a time as any for Asia-Pacific senders to think about how their own contributions to the stress of others.

As an email marketer, you have a role to play in reducing inbox anxiety and should regularly review your sending practices. Do you even have your customers’ permission to send them marketing emails? Are you sure your emails are reaching their intended recipients? Are your messages timely and relevant? Do you understand the latest techniques internet service providers (ISPs) use to combat spam?

If email marketing is a significant source of leads and revenue for your company, it’s incredibly important to make sure you have the correct answer to every one of those questions. John Landsman has five tips for smart sending that can help you improve email marketing results in 2020.


1. Clean up your email address lists

When it comes to email addresses, quality is better than quantity. One of the ways ISPs classify senders as spammers is by evaluating outreach to invalid addresses, so maintaining list hygiene is crucial. Remember, if you’re sending emails to bad addresses, it’s not just a waste of time and resources; it can negatively affect your whole campaign.

Delete inactive contacts and invalid addresses, using expert help if needed. Also, make sure you quickly comply with unsubscribe requests and give users a way to change their listed email address. Noncompliance will get your domain rated as spam, and if you don’t give users an easy option to change their address, they’ll unsubscribe and opt-in again, which means you’ll lose their data.


2. Don’t buy email addresses

It’s imperative to make sure you only send marketing emails to customers who have opted-in to receive messages. While it used to be common practice to pre-populate boxes to get consumers’ passive opt-in consent, in the age of heightened privacy concerns, those days are gone, as are the days of purchasing email lists.

In addition to making sure all of the addresses in your email lists are real opt-ins, it’s also a good idea to regularly review lists to make sure there are no issues like syntax errors. An email address from an opt-in form can be filled out incorrectly, and if you use bad addresses in an email campaign, your company might get flagged as a spammer.


3. Respond immediately when new subscribers opt-in

One of the best engagement techniques you can use is to respond to an opt-in with a welcome email right away. It’s best to respond instantly, and you definitely shouldn’t let an hour or more elapse because your new subscriber might move on to other things and forget about having subscribed at all.

A welcome message is an ideal opportunity to collect data that can help you target emails to that specific customer. Birthdays (with the year, preferably) are a valuable data point from a demographic standpoint and also as an opportunity to send future birthday greetings. The welcome message is a great time to set expectations on contact frequency and content.


4. Pay attention to deliverability basics

The most effective content ever produced won’t result in a single lead or sale if customers don’t get the email. Deliverability is a complex issue because industry best practices and ISP techniques to exclude spam evolve over time. Familiarise yourself with best practices and stay up to date as new issues emerge.

Complying with local and international laws governing email outreach is also crucial. Many email marketers choose to work with deliverability professionals since the regulations are complex and subject to change. If you choose to go this route, make sure you find a partner with expertise in deliverability and a proven track record of operating according to industry best practices.


5. Nurture your email contacts

Email is still the gold standard for building relationships with customers. No other platform can accommodate the variety of content and immediacy of email, but that’s only true if you nurture your contacts carefully. That means getting to know customer preferences through data and always delivering valuable information.

Just as importantly, you’ve got to know when to let go. If a customer hasn’t engaged for 60-90 days, it’s time to remove that customer from the list. Continuing to email customers who never respond is a huge mistake a lot of email marketers make. It’s counterproductive because not only does the practice not generate revenue, emailing nonresponsive customers once again looks like spammer behaviour.


These are challenging times for email marketers. Consumer expectations are changing. New regulations are popping up everywhere. The good news is that you have more data than ever before, and consumers are willing to share their information if you provide something of value in return. Following these tips can help you take advantage of this opportunity — and stay off the spam list.


John Landsman is manager of research analytics at SparkPost, an email analytics and delivery platform.