better email marketingNo matter what happens in the world of digital communication, there is one constant – email marketing.  Contrary to annual predictions that email marketing has peaked, the numbers tell a different story.

A fairly recent DMA study found that 76% of marketers use more email than they were three years ago. In terms of numerically-based predictions, Forrester Research forecasts that  investment in email marketing will to grow from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $2 billion in 2014. Knowing that email marketing will not only continue, but also increase, how can it be integrated into a successful inbound marketing strategy?

But here’s a cruel fact. Just because you sent it doesn’t mean your email was received. Approximately 17% of all emails don’t arrive. Blame it on a number of factors – spam traps, defunct emails and firewalls to name a few.

How to Keep Your Email List Clean

Eighty-three percent of the time you can blame non-delivery to your sender reputation, which is defined by the Sender Score.

What Is A Sender Score?

A free service of return path, the Sender Score algorithm rates the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address on a scale from 0-100. It gathers data from more than 60 million mailboxes at big ISPs like BellSouth and Comcast. It looks at where people unsubscribe or report spam from certain email senders. It then assigns a Sender Score based on that monitoring.

Like your credit report, your sender score changes. How it changes depends on the way you send your emails and how people respond to your emails. If you constantly send them information they don’t want, they will unsubscribe and that will impact your score. Therefore it is important that the content you send is relevant, and also that your email marketing list is up-to-date.

How To Tell If Your Email List is Good

Your answers to these five questions will give you a good idea of whether your email list is good.

1. Does Everybody On This List Have A Prior Relationship With Your Business?

If the answer is No, either get rid of the list or all the people you don’t have a relationship with. Without a prior relationship they won’t be expecting your email. For them it will be spam and many of them will mark it as such. That, in turn, will damage your Sender Score, which will make delivery of your email harder.

If the answer is Yes, then good job. Read on.

2.  Do You Have An Unsubscribe List?

If the answer is Yes, then go to question 3.

If the answer is No, then you might be breaking the law when you send.  Every company has people who have unsubscribed to their emails. These people do not want to see your emails again, and you need to respect that. If you don’t, you’re breaking the CANSPAM law and odds are many of your recipients are reporting your email as spam.

3. Did You Purchase, Rent, Or Lease The List From A Third Party?

If the answer is Yes, then realize that when you send emails to this list you are increasing the chances of getting flagged for spam.  These lists come from many places. The better lists include subscribers who have opted in, but they are expecting email from them, not you. The worst ones harvest addresses from directories and other online sources. The people on those lists are definitely not expecting any type of email.

If your answer to this question is No, then go to question 4.

4. Will The People On The List Be Expecting (Not Be Surprised) By Your Email?

Hopefully the answer is yes. If it’s not then your need to build your list using inbound marketing and names that come from opt-ins.

5. Have You Emailed These Contacts Within The Last 12 Months?

If the answer is no, then odds are recipients will have forgotten about you and will be surprised to get your email, but not in a good way. You are not some long lost relative or friend. When they get your email, even if they recognize your company name, they might mark it as spam.

If the answer is Yes, and you have answered the other four questions correctly, then you are ready to create some awesome emails filled with highly useful content that will increase your conversion rates.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /