Email Marketing

Email Marketing: Avoid This "Deadly" Mistake

Over the years, I’ve seen many ecommerce store owners make one simple but deadly mistake when they get started with email marketing: They send emails to old, obsolete email addresses.

Does this sound like you? You started your ecommerce store a few years ago. Even back then, you had the foresight to start collecting email addresses because you knew you’d be sending marketing emails someday. Finally, you locate an email service provider (ESP). You spend hours designing and testing your first campaign, and you hit the send button.

You’ve been blacklisted

Then your email service provider shuts down your account because you’ve been blacklisted by all the major Internet service providers (ISPs). What gives?

For one, people change email addresses all the time, such as when they get new jobs or switch ISPs. Or they get inundated with so much spam at one email address that they create a fresh email account, so all those emails you sent to them will bounce. Too many bounces tell the ISPs that your list is old, dirty or purchased. So they block you. If you have any unused email addresses on your system older than one year, delete them from your list to prevent major headaches.

Secondly, people forget. If they bought a trinket from your store three years ago, they’re not going to remember you, especially if you’ve changed your store name or designed a spiffy new logo since then. So when they get your email, they’ll immediately click the “Report Spam” button in their email program. This in turn sends a complaint to their ISP, who will in turn block your future emails if you get even a handful of these complaints.

Finally, some ISPs turn old, abandoned email addresses into “spam traps.” They figure those dormant accounts shouldn’t receive any emails anymore, so the second you send an email to a spam trap, you’re blacklisted. We’ve seen it happen, and the results are instant and awesome, since blacklists are often shared across different ISPs around the world.

Delete the old email addresses

So if you’ve been sitting on an old list of customer email addresses, you should take a moment to delete any emails older than six to 12 months. In your first campaign, make sure your company name is included everywhere (subject line, from-name, reply-to address), and remind recipients how they got on your list. This will keep you from getting blacklisted and ruining your company’s email reputation.

Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
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