The health of your email list is paramount to your email reputation and subsequently your delivery rates. It’s important to ensure that every email address that enters your system has opted in to be a part of your list. And while it can be tempting to simply add people to your database based on some limited interaction (or worse, no interaction), it only hurts your reputation and negatively affects your entire email program.

The positive thing is that this is one area in which you are in total control of your email delivery. If you start with a clean, healthy and active list, you can earn a good reputation that gets you delivered. Start with these five tips:

  1. Be careful of third-party data: If you use co-registration or rent lists, then make sure you are using a reputable provider who understands the importance of permission based marketing. Even if you are using a reputable vendor, consumers may not always realize what they’ve signed up for. Therefore, put your own checks and balances in place to make certain that only people who want to hear from you end up on your list. To do so, you can send a welcome message confirming their subscription or require a double-opt in.
  2. Offer full disclosure: Tell people exactly what they are signing up for and how often they will receive your messages. Don’t bury it in the terms and conditions. Instead, put it front and center so people are fully aware of what they are subscribing to. By doing so, you are ensuring that only active participants will join your file.
  3. Clean Your lists: Subscribers change their minds. What they once wanted, they no longer have interest in and that’s normal. Remove non-responders from your list every 6 months. This practice will also protect you from honeypots or spam traps. Also, sign up for feedback loops and immediately remove complainers who reported your email as spam. If your non-responders or complaints are trending upwards, re-examine your content. Perhaps there is a legitimate reason your subscribers’ behavior. Look for patterns and start testing to find out what’s going on.
  4. Monitor your response rates: ISPs like Gmail and now Yahoo! are now using engagement in their filtering decisions. Unfortunately, this is one area in which you have very little control once you deploy your email. Therefore, you need to be laser focused on your clicks and conversions to ensure you are truly engaging your subscribers.
  5. Monitor your delivery rates: Ultimately, you messages need to reach your subscribers in order to garner a response so keep a sharp eye on your delivery rates so you can swiftly identify and fix any deliverability issues.

This entire process is cyclical in that you can’t earn a high response without high delivery and with engagement playing a more integral part in ISP filtering, response is now a factor in email delivery. But this is not a chicken or an egg situation. The only question you need to worry about is where do your emails come from? If you can confidently answer that question, you can figure how to proceed next.

Carly Brantz
With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.