How to maintain a healthy email list

If you are just starting out, we recommend checking out How to optimize your email deliverability and Understanding email consent. These articles will give you a jumpstart in sending great email content.

Emailvicon

Hopefully, you have continued building a great email list for your organization. However, even with the best upkeep, email lists have an average decay of 25% per year. This means that over time it is necessary to alter your approach on how to engage your list in order to keep your email deliverability high. Learn the basic steps to restore and maintain the health of your email list.


Main Principles

It’s not a bad idea to glance over the three main principles of email blasting that was covered in our How to optimize your email deliverability article. 

1. Consent is crucialYou need to have your supporter's permission to send emails in the frequency and subject desired. Having consent means that your supporters expect to hear from you, ensuring that few people will feel the need to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. 

2. Quality over quantityIt is better to have an engaged list of one thousand people than an apathetic list of ten thousand. Over time, the people who remain un-engaged on your list will damage your reputation and prevent emails getting to those who have shown interest. 

3. Personalize your contentThe more personal you make your emails and calls to action, the more likely your email is to be opened. Personalizing your content will help your deliverability and build strong relationships with your supporters.

These three rules will always be golden guidelines to follow as you maintain the health of your email list.


Segment and Target

As you build a relationship with recipients, email blasts with generic calls to action could hurt you. You will want to evolve your email content to be as personalized as possible. Organize your supporters by moving them along a path of engagement and changing your calls to action.

You learned about segmentation and targeting in the article How to optimize your email deliverability, but it is crucial to continue good segmentation practices and appropriate targeting.

For example, you have collected a list of donors over the past two years. In the early stages of your segmentation process, you sent all donors the same email. Now, based on each recipient’s engagement, you can segment the group into three separate lists.

1. Segment 1: Donors who have given twice or more in the past 12 months, or over a specified amount. These donors have shown significant commitment to your organization. Send a blast thanking them for supporting you. Ask these donors to share your organization with friends, transforming the donor into an advocate. These high level donors will feel like a part of your organization and be more inclined to support you in the future. 

High donor filter

2. Segment 2: Donors who have given once in the past 12 months. These donors are at the beginning of an engagement path with your organization. Depending on your organization’s big-picture goals, test different calls to action with these recipients. For example, ask for either a second contribution or to volunteer. 

Medium donor filter

3. Segment 3: Past donors who have been inactive in the past 12 months. These recipients have not shown interest in the past year. You will want to attempt one last appeal by running a reconfirmation campaign. Thank each recipient for her previous support and ask if she wants to receive your emails. If she does not respond, remove her from your list.

Low donor filter

As you continue the process of re-targeting and segmentation remember to keep your preference center up to date. As your content changes, you should change the available options on your preferences page.

Finally, don’t forget to use the tools in your nation to help build a long-term email program:


Sunset policy

A sunset policy is a method where you set a time limit on how long a recipient can remain inactive on your list before removal. This policy will guarantee that you have only the most engaged recipients on your list.

To implement a sunset policy:

1. Decide how long a person can remain unengaged on your list before being removed. We recommend setting the limit at six months.

2. Filter for anyone who has not opened an email in the past six months. Add these profiles to a list and separate them from the rest of your email recipients.

Email blast filter

3. Try re-engaging recipients by:

  • Cutting back on the quantity of emails you send them. This will give them a break from your organization and let them remember why they want to hear from you.
  • Running a reconfirmation campaign.

If either method does not work, remove them from your list. If an un-engaged recipient stays on your email list, she will pull down your engagement scores and affect your email deliverability.

I know goodbyes are hard, but look at it this way: if you are only getting 500 people to respond to your 4,000-recipient email blasts, wouldn’t it just be better to send emails to those 500 people? If you stick to keeping that smaller group really engaged, then you can be sure to develop trust.

Alternatively, if you email the 4,000 and they are continually ignoring your emails and marking you as spam, instead of reaching the 500 supporters who are engaged, email providers may only let you reach 485. Over time, the numbers will not be in your favor.

Remember, an engaged 500 is more powerful than an apathetic 4000.


Being successful

Keeping your email list healthy is hard work and you should congratulate yourself. Remember that keeping your email list engaged is rewarded by more actions taken by supporters, more money raised from donors, and the trust and support of your recipients. 


How to optimize your email deliverability

Understanding email consent

How to set up email blasts

Understanding the results of your email blast

Understanding spam

If you’re unclear on how this feature works, please ask a question. If you would like to see changes to this feature, please submit a suggestion.