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Use Your Summer Slowdown to Review Your Email Lists

For many small businesses, summer is slow season, making it a great time to evaluate the success of your email marketing efforts to date. Take advantage of the summer slowdown, and spend some time reviewing your email contact lists. Like growing a beautiful lawn, a growing email list needs care and maintenance along the way to ensure that healthy growth continues. Giving a little TLC to your list reinforces that you’re continuing to send relevant information to each of your subscribers—and that you can reap the benefits of having engaged customers come busy season.

Here are some simple, effective ways to manage, and nurture, your growing email list:

Segment your lists

Creating smaller, targeted lists and letting your subscribers choose which list they want to be on allows them to tell you what they want to hear. And it means you can send more relevant emails to those who want to receive them. For example: a nonprofits can have separate lists targeting members, donors, volunteers, and board of directors; a clothing retailer can offer mailings targeting those interested in men’s, women’s, or children’s apparel; a restaurant that offers live music on the weekend can segment their lists by those interested in only dinner specials and those interested in the musical acts.

Other options include segmenting your list by anniversary or birthday month, or by how often subscribers want to hear from you (for example: weekly, monthly, or quarterly).

Eliminate the bounces

Every time you send an email message, there are going to be a few that bounce back because the email address is no longer valid, has a typo in it, the recipient’s inbox is full, or the person has an out-of-office responder activated. Take a look at your bounce report to see why your messages are being returned. For the vacationers, you can ignore the report. But for hard bounces such as a non-existent addresses, you should:

Verify that the address is correct. If it is and you think the report is a false positive, you can always follow-up with the subscriber individually to see if he or she is actually receiving your emails.

For those addresses that are truly non-existent, move them to your Do Not Mail list. Doing so will eliminate the subscribers from future mailings, help lower your bounce rate, and improve your open rate.

Try a re-engagement campaign

A re-engagement campaign can offer a way to encourage those quiet subscribers to become active again. The gist is to send a couple of emails to your least engaged segment of subscribers that prompts them to take some action to show you they’re still interested in hearing from you. If they don’t respond, you can remove them.

For example, you can send three messages, one per week, to the segment you choose. Most marketers would select those who haven’t opened or clicked the last few campaigns, but there are situations where it would be a good idea to select those contacts you’ve been emailing to the longest. Explain that you’re doing a little “summer cleaning” in an attempt to be a better marketer, and that you want to make sure you’re sending emails only to those people who really want to receive them.

Finally, you would send a third and final “confirmed opt-in” campaign to the list. Send this last message to the same people you sent the last two emails to, and only deliver it to those who did not click to confirm in the previous emails. This would be the final chance for those people to stay on the list.

By using these simple steps you’ll find yourself with a list of engaged, responsive customers, just in time for the coming busy season!


Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9’s Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.

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