List growth is a priority for email marketers and for good reason. Acquiring new subscribers enables you to build and retain your list's integrity while ensuring stable business growth over time. But, growing your list without an eye toward good deliverability can relegate your messages to the bulk folder, putting your existing customer relationships in jeopardy. New email addresses that bounce or cause your complaint rates to rise can prove to be more damaging than good. Here are some ways to maintain solid deliverability while growing your list.
- Communicate your program's value at the time of opt-in: Be specific in describing the benefits of joining your program and give examples of the types of offers a recipient can expect to get from you. This will give users an incentive to join and it establishes a pattern of audience engagement.
- Don't assume a customer wants email: Customers don't automatically expect to receive marketing messages as a result of signing up for something on your Web site or completing a transaction. And when customers receive a message that's unexpected, it's likely they'll hit the spam button which puts a strain on your sender reputation. Present an option to join and let customers know at what frequency you intend to mail them. You'll weed out likely complainers by only sending to those who've checked the box to join.
- Don't pre-check the boxes: Encourage users to take an active role in setting their email preferences. Again this will help users to remember what they signed up for and make it a lot less likely that they will unsubscribe or hit the spam button in the future.
- Offer multiple opt-in choices: Give customers a choice in the types of emails they receive by breaking your program up into different content categories. This helps marketers to deliver the most relevant message possible and allows recipients some control over the amount of email they receive.
- Gain double opt-in: By verifying email addresses through double opt-in you'll reduce your bounce rate and virtually eliminate the possibility of mailing to fake addresses, mistyped addresses, or forged addresses.
- Don't use purchased lists or list-appends: Purchased lists can't nearly offer the value that organic lists achieve. Resources are better spent improving your organic list growth strategy. Purchased lists perform poorly because the users on such lists have not previously opted-in to your program. Also, these lists contain tons of unverified data that all but guarantee you will hit spam traps. Without knowing the true origin of these email addresses or even if the addresses are valid, you take on a huge risk of burying your deliverability. And once you've gotten into trouble, either with a blocked IP or a serious blacklisting - it is very difficult and costly to correct the problem.
- Focus on quality and not just quantity: These days, ISPs are calculating your sender reputation on engagement metrics such as opens and clicks and starring messages (Gmail). So it's not enough merely to focus on unsubscribes, complaint rates and bounce rates. Controlling the quality of data entering your distribution is essential to building a high quality, high-engagement program. Growing the engagement level of your audience will set the perfect foundation for large scale list growth well into the future.