Contacting inactive or invalid email addresses is a waste of your email marketing budget and can have other negative repercussions for your business’s email marketing.
Regularly validating your email lists is vital to avoid emailing inactive accounts. Allowing bad email addresses to remain on your mailing list can cause long-term damage to your email sender reputation and affect your ability to contact new and existing subscribers.
What problems does email list monitoring tackle, and how do they impact your business?
Email Addresses Become Inactive Every Day
You already verify new email addresses whenever a new subscriber opts in, so why do you need to keep monitoring your email list?
Email addresses become inactive all the time, for many reasons:
- Your subscriber may have lost access to their email account or switched to a different platform.
- A previously legitimate email address may have been stolen by a bot or other fraudulent activity.
- Alternatively, your subscriber may simply have stopped opening your emails even though they still use the account.
Email service providers will keep email addresses alive even if their owner has not logged into the account in years. Some email services, such as Gmail, will never delete inactive accounts. This means if you are not cleaning your mailing list, you could spend years paying to send marketing emails to an account that nobody ever logs into. Even if an email account is closed, your emails to that address will contribute to your bounce rate.
All of these scenarios can have a negative effect on your reputation with email providers. As a result, failing to monitor your email lists can impede your ability to contact active accounts and new subscribers.
Contacting Inactive Addresses Looks Like Spam
Email service providers use the past performance of your email campaigns to determine if your subscribers actually want to receive your messages. This includes tracking not just the open rate of your emails but also the click rate of buttons and links they contain and reply rates. This is used to confirm whether their users are engaging with your emails.
If you have lots of subscribers who don’t engage for long periods, this will lower your email sender reputation and increase the likelihood that your messages will end up in the spam folder. As a result, any inactive account will make your emails more likely to be flagged as spam because they do not engage with your emails in any way.
Email Bots Can Ruin Your Mailing List
Whether they are targeting your business specifically or simply programmed to complete every form they encounter, spambots will find their way into your mailing list. At best, you are paying to contact people who do not exist, and at worst, they can intentionally harm your business.
Although CAPTCHAs will prevent most bots from signing up to your mailing list, there are systems and methods criminals can use to bypass this layer of protection and enable their bots to subscribe. Additionally, many bot email accounts originated as real addresses that were stolen. This means that a real person could subscribe to your list only for a bot to take control of their account.
An email list monitoring service can reliably detect suspicious bot-like behavior patterns and remove the spam addresses from your list before they can do further harm.
So why does it matter if bots get into your mailing list?
- Firstly, they won’t interact or engage with your emails, causing the same problems as inactive accounts. That’s the best-case scenario.
- A bot network could be used maliciously to flag your messages as spam or forward them to a suspicious email reporting service en masse. The damage this can do to your sender's reputation can take a long time to undo.
- When bots do engage with your emails, it is usually in an undesirably way. For example, they might be harvesting discount codes and links to redistribute elsewhere or replying to your emails in order to spam your inbox.
- Collecting all the variations of your email marketing you send to different audiences and mailing lists also helps criminals create phishing attempts that mimic your own messages more convincingly.
Duplicate Addresses Look Like Spam
Duplicate email addresses can find their way into your email list for a number of reasons. The initial email validation check that happens when a user signs up should prevent people from signing up to a mailing list their email address is already a part of.
Multiple instances of the same address appearing on your mailing list can still happen through different means, however. One of the most common reasons is that your subscriber’s email address was merged with or moved into a different mailing list that already contains their address.
However, duplicate addresses end up on your mailing list, they have a negative effect on your reputation. Email service providers will detect when identical emails are sent to the same address and classify them as spam.
Additionally, your subscriber is only going to engage with one of your emails once they realize they are receiving duplicates. This effectively divides all of your engagement metrics from that subscriber by the number of duplicates you send them. Furthermore, your subscriber might not know why you are sending them duplicates or how to stop it and could flag your messages as spam to prevent their inbox from filling up.
Continuing to Email Disengaged Subscribers Attracts Complaints
So far, we’ve covered how email list monitoring helps avoid situations that look like a disengaged subscriber to your email service provider, such as inactive or duplicate accounts. But what about those active email accounts which have disengaged with your emails?
Not every customer who stops opening your emails will take the extra step of actually unsubscribing. This might sound like a good thing as it means you retain the ability to contact that subscriber, but it is not. The effect their lack of engagement can have on your reputation with email service providers could limit your ability to contact new subscribers who have not already disengaged.
Furthermore, many of those subscribers who disengage may not know how to unsubscribe or don’t want to interact with an email they don’t recognize. In this scenario, they might instead flag your sender address as junk to keep future messages out of their inbox. It can take less than 0.2% of your email recipients to flag your messages as spam in a 30 day period before email service providers take action.
This can potentially result in future messages going straight to the junk folder without being flagged by your recipient or being blocked by the email provider before delivery. Detecting disengaged accounts and moving them to a cold mailing list prevents the negative impact these subscribers can have on your reputation and engagement metrics.
Find Out Why Subscribers Stopped Engaging
On average, almost a quarter of a business’s subscribers will disengage each year. Tracking the results of monitoring your email lists helps you identify the point where a subscriber stopped engaging with your emails.
Regularly cleaning inactive addresses from your mailing list gives you the opportunity to review both the types of content you sent them while they were engaged and the emails you sent during the period of inactivity that resulted in their removal from your active mailing lists.
If you have permission to text a subscriber, you can also send texts automatically with an SMS API to re-engage and point your subscriber back to email, for example, texting to let them know about a newsletter, offer or feedback survey you sent them.
You can use this information not just to adjust your future emails for better engagement rates but also to help re-engage inactive subscribers. By moving these subscribers to a re-engagement campaign mailing list as soon as your email list monitoring picks up their disengagement, you can make a final targeted attempt to engage them with your content again.
Doing this immediately instead of after a long period of inactivity is less suspicious to email service providers and more likely to get a response from subscribers.
Healthy Email Lists are an Important Part of Any Email Campaign
Email list monitoring stops your business from wasting money on messaging inactive and invalid email addresses. It also protects your email sender reputation by ensuring your business stops sending emails to uninterested recipients, bots, and other invalid accounts that could flag your messages as spam.
As a result, using email list monitoring to maintain a good reputation with email service providers is just as important as maintaining your reputation with your subscribers themselves.