10 vital ways not to lose contacts in your email database

If you’re using an email system like MailChimp, Infusionsoft or Constant Contact, they are strict about spam complaints to protect their reputation. If your emails are getting spam complaints (or marked as spam), they know about it and can insist that you remove contacts from your database.

This isn’t a bad thing, it is good to have a nice, cleaned up database of people to send emails to. People that WANT to receive your emails and actually read them!

When you have a database of customers and prospects that you have built up, of course you want to make sure your emails are opened, read and the links clicked on.

1. Ensure people double opt-in where possible

Whenever you get someone’s email address through a web form, make sure they know they’ll receive emails from you and how often. Have a tick box on the form that says something like: Yes, please send me your monthly e-newsletter. Then have it automatically send out an email asking them to confirm their email address by clicking a link. This is what ‘double opt-in’ means.
If you get an email address face to face (say on someone’s business card) ask them if you can send them your monthly newsletter and again, send them an email with a link to confirm it is their email address (so they double opt-in).

2 Send html emails

Send html emails with and a image or two and links to your website rather than text only. Email systems can only track which emails have been open because it knows an image within the email has been loaded.
You can make the html email look like a normal text email if you prefer by keeping it simple but include links so you can track who is actively reading your emails.

3. Keep your spam complaints as low as possible

Obviously, the main thing to do is avoid spam complaints. Or to be more precise, keep complaint rates as low as possible (some complaints are unavoidable).

Most email systems have a way to check your spam rates so regularly check which of your emails get marked as spam the most and learn from it.

4. Don’t send just sales emails

Make sure some of your emails are interesting rather than pushing sales. These can include useful information, industry news, links to useful downloads and tips/advice (similar to what you might have on your blog).

Make the paragraphs grab them enough to click the link to read more. The link can take them to a page on your website where they can read the rest. The web page can have the sales message on there instead of within the email.

5. Email them regularly, not once every 2 or 3 months

Send newsletters on a regular basis and at the same time each week/month.
Sending one-off random, unexpected emails will more likely be marked as spam by the receiver. If you send out a newsletter around the same time each week/month then your contacts will expect to receive them.

Also, email provider systems like MailChimp, Infusionsoft and Constant Contact tend to regard an email address as old if it hasn’t been emailed to in a few months. Then they may insist you send them an email asking them to opt-in again!

6. Keep track of what works

Check which emails are getting the most clicks and by what type of person. There could be a pattern with emails that are getting hardly any opens (which could be the subject line) or hardly any clicks (which could be the content).

When writing the subject line, put yourself in the receiver’s position. Would you open it? If yes, why would you? For example, it might be because it answers a need you currently have or because it sounds interesting.
Try to categorise your contacts by their needs. the industry they are in, location, age etc. so that you can send emails that will be relevant to them. Someone based in London might not want an email about your event in York or if you do send one to them in this case, make the email relevant by stating you know the event is not in their area but they may still want to attend the event and have a lovely day out in York too. You could even include a link to train times!

7. Regularly clean up your database

Mark stale contacts (that are not opening your emails) with a tag or as ‘dead’ in your database so that you don’t continue to send emails to them. A lot of companies think ‘I’ll just send my newsletter to everyone in the database whether they open them or not’ but this can cause spam complaints which your email system provider will want to reduce. You don’t want them to insist you remove contacts that you want to keep!

8. Never delete a contact in your database

When you know a lead is dead and there is no chance they will buy from you (whatever the reason), don’t remove them from the database but instead mark them as ‘dead’ or ‘do not email’. The reason for this as that if you import email addresses in the future and their email address is in the import, they’ll start receiving your emails again! If they are marked as ‘do not email’ then this field will remain in their record.

9. Emailing businesses? Send to people, not roles

If you email a business, try to keep it to specific people within the business like john.smith@ rather than sending emails to info@, support@, sales@ etc. These are more likely to cause spam complaints.
Sometimes you can’t avoid this but keep an eye on the number of these that you have in your database and try to keep them to a minimum.

10. Go Social

If you have social media pages like a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ page etc., make sure your emails have ‘follow us’ or Like us’ links. If a person follows or likes your page, they will see your posts in their timeline and you can give your prospects and customers a lot more messages than you can with emails as they can’t be marked as spam!
Your posts can include a link to sign up for your newsletter too.

To summarise:
  • Ensure people know you will be sending them emails
  • Make your web forms have a tick box for them to subscribe and that it tells them how often your newsletter will be sent to them
  • Send them an email with a link asking them to confirm their email address (double opt-in)
  • Design your newsletters in HTML (but you can keep the email simple if you prefer)
  • Include an image and some links so you can track opens/clicks
  • Keep a check on how many spam complaints your email blasts are getting and reduce the number of complaints by altering the subject line/content of your emails
  • Make your newsletters interesting (not just sales focused)
  • Email them on a regular basis
  • Keep your database clean
  • Mark dead/inactive leads as ‘inactive’ or ‘do not contact’. Don’t remove them from your database
  • Try to avoid email addresses like ‘sales@, info@ etc. whenever possible
  • Post links to sign up for your newsletter on your social media pages

(MORE: 5 types of subject lines to engage your audience)

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