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What to Do With That Big Email List You’ve Never Sent To

If you have a big email list that you’ve never sent to, there are two probable explanations. You’ve either bought a list of contacts from a third party database, or you’ve collected emails over time without a clear idea of how to use them.

If you fall into the first category, unfortunately, you’ve made a mistake. Purchased lists, while not always strictly illegal, are nearly always ineffective.

It’s not uncommon, though, for companies to find themselves with a large email list that they’ve collected without a clear idea of how to use it. The longer the list goes unused, the more inertia there will be against actually getting an email marketing campaign started. That means that there’s no better time to start then right now. You don’t want to miss out on the potential of email marketing, especially when it can have an ROI of 4,300%.

You can’t just rush into sending to an unused list, though. Getting things right will require an understanding of what you want to accomplish.

Objectives in Sending to Your Unused List

1. Protect the sender’s reputation
2. Preserve your users’ experience with your brand
3. Achieve high deliverability and inbox placement rate
4. End up with a sendable, healthy, profitable email list

So, how do you go about meeting those objectives? Let’s take a look.

Proper Preparation

The first step to putting your list to use will be preparing it. Essentially, this will mean refining it to clean out any email addresses that aren’t valid.

One obvious thing to check for is whether or not the email is in the correct format. For instance, if it doesn’t include an “@” symbol, or a valid domain name, then it’ll have to go. This is more likely if you’ve collected emails via a form that doesn’t require validation, or if you’ve input emails manually at any point.

Another important consideration is whether or not the email is a verified sendable address. If the account is inactive, doesn’t exist on the domain, or is simply a spam account, sending to it will only be a waste of your time and reputation.

It can be helpful to submit your list to a data validation service like Kickbox or NeverBounce. They’ll be able to do the legwork required to sift through a list of thousands of emails, and their data can help you to refine your list to increase responsiveness.

Getting properly prepared will also involve choosing the right tools. There are plenty of email service providers (ESPs) to choose from, but they should all give you the ability to create and send email in bulk, and provide you with varying levels of statistical analysis. More robust reporting solutions like ReturnPath will provide comprehensive resources to analyze and improve your sending results.

Send It

Once you’ve got your tools in place and your list preliminarily refined, you’re ready to begin putting it to use.

Don’t rush in all at once, though. First, segment your list based on your subscribers’ email service. Remember, Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft all have different spam triggers. This way, you’ll be able to develop strategies that get the best engagement from everyone.

Once you’ve done that, you can begin wading in to your sending strategy. We recommend using a throttle send schedule. That means sending in small numbers to start with, and analyzing your results as you go.

You don’t want to blast 10,000 people right off the bat, only to get negligible engagement that hurts your sender reputation. Start small, analyze your lists’ responsiveness, and make adjustments. Then you can slowly ramp up.

The first email that you send to an old or untried list should provide incentive for your users to reengage and take action. Essentially, you should try to find out if they want to hear from you. Even though they opted in in the first place, since you’re using an untested list, it’s likely that they’ve forgotten.

Consider offering a re-subscribe option, and make your unsubscribe option prominent. Don’t sweat losing the people who just aren’t interested anymore; the refinement will make your list more effective in the long run.

Next Steps

Once your first send has gone out, it’s time to begin the process of analyzing and improving. Segment your list by engagement—whether or not they opened, clicked, or even re-subscribed. You’ll likely want to sunset those who didn’t reengage.

If you make it through the first email without receiving an overwhelming amount of complaints or spam reports, that’s a good sign. Follow up by sending a second email to deliverable contents, thanking them for their reengagement and offering them some of the content you’ll be providing from here on out.

At this point, you’ve made it! Hopefully, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve accomplished all of our original objectives. Your list should now be healthy, sendable, and, eventually, profitable.

If you’re interested in starting an email marketing campaign to Baby Boomers, let us know. Don’t let that email list go to waste!

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