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3 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Outbound Email Marketing Strategy

Launching a new email marketing campaign is exciting. Untouched contacts can become prospects and even customers with time and effective nurturing. Not to mention that contacts who already know your brand can be reinvigorated by fresh, engaging emails. But there are a lot of barriers to generating a following and nurturing leads via email. This is especially true when sending to cold or purchased lists, crafting emails post website launch, or rebranding as part of a larger outbound overhaul.

We’ve compiled a list of three underlying reasons why email campaigns are unsuccessful so you can learn from these common missteps before your next launch. Each reason is accompanied by strategies to overcome the barrier and increase email engagement.

Clean Your Lists to Avoid Damaging Your Sender Reputation

When you press send on an email, that email travels through countless hidden stops on its journey to inboxes. While you can certainly dig down into the technical specifics of deliverability, know that the main goal is to first get into your contacts’ inboxes. A perfectly written email sitting in a spam folder does no one any good.

Luckily, you can avoid setting off the algorithm that will put you in that spam folder with a few tactics. One of these tactics is giving your lists a bath.

What is a “Dirty” List, Anyway?

List cleansing, put simply, is the act of weeding out email addresses that are or might be invalid, and strategically deleting them from a contact list before you send.

Commonly used tools for list cleansing include Webbula and NeverBounce. When you upload your list to the tool (or integrate the tool with your existing marketing automation technology) it will tell you the email addresses that are likely to hard bounce. Many tools go a step further and identify any email addresses that are notorious for marking emails as spam. You then delete these email addresses from your “to send” contact list. 

Side note: You should cleanse a list prior to sending an email to contacts for the first time (this is called a cold list). This is an important note to take since many new campaigns revolve around sending to cold lists. Also cleanse a list if it’s been a while (think six plus months) since you’ve sent to those contacts. 

Why is List Cleansing Important?

If you send to a list that has many email addresses that are either going to hard bounce or get flagged as spam, you run the risk of damaging your sender reputation. In fact, your IP address or your sender domain could even be blacklisted. In a nutshell, being blacklisted prevents you from landing in inboxes, period. 

It’s critical to cleanse your lists so you only send to email addresses that you can verify or validate to avoid potential long-term damage.

Segment Your Contacts to Evade the Spam Filter and Increase Email Engagement

Segmenting your contacts into smaller lists is another way to avoid setting off that spam algorithm. List segmentation is an important and overlooked aspect of successful outbound marketing.

Segment Lists for Improved Deliverability

Let’s say you just launched a new website and have a welcome email you want to send to 7,500 cold contacts. It’s bad form to send to all 7,500 contacts at once. Instead, use your marketing automation technology to schedule your email to go out to your contacts in batches over time. 

Segmenting your contacts this way can help your email sidestep certain prevalent spam prevention tactics and land in the inbox. For instance, a typical spam filter will react to an email blast that concurrently hits recipients who share an email service provider, internet service provider, and company domain by flagging that email as spam. That’s because it perceives your email as a pesky bulk message sent to too many inboxes.

Consider the following scenario: Your email reaches several Gmail users who browse on Safari and work for PepsiCo simultaneously. PepsiCo’s spam filter is provoked by the email influx. Consequently, your email is ushered to the promotions tab.

When you send your email in clusters over time, it’s less likely to reach enough people at the same time who share those three variables (email service provider, internet service provider, and company domain) to agitate spam filters.

Segment Lists for More Targeted Content

Separating your contacts based on audience type is also a best practice. This follows a three step process. First, group your contacts based on personas. Next, tweak your email copy to be more relevant to each group. Finally, send your separate, customized emails to each defined persona group.

Of course, the more targeted your email copy is, the more it speaks to your prospects and turns them into loyal readers.

BONUS: Marry List Cleansing and List Segmentation for a Stronger Shot at the Inbox

List cleansing tools are sophisticated, but their reports aren’t perfectly black and white. You may receive some results that aren’t entirely clear one way or another in terms of each contact’s ‘freshness’ or quality. When that happens, you’ll need to make a call on whether or not to include these “gray” contacts in your email sends.

One way to minimize your risks without discarding “gray” contacts is to batch them into your list segments. Don’t just add them in and send all at once. If they are invalid addresses, you’ll hurt your authority more with higher volumes of spam reports and hard bounces. Add a selection of these contacts to each list segment over time to test the waters. 

Choose Your Content Wisely to Gain Opens and Repeat Readers

At this point, you’ve spent prized time analyzing your lists, strategically cleansing them, and painstakingly segmenting your immaculate contacts. You’re ready to send the thing! However, if your email lands in your recipients’ inboxes but doesn’t actually say anything interesting, you’re not going to get the results you want from your new campaign. 

Compelling, empathetic email copy that speaks to your prospects’ individual pain points is fundamental, especially when you’re speaking to contacts for the very first time or introducing something new. Don’t rush through the writing phase.  

Don’t Include Gated Assets

Content such as white papers, eBooks, and webinars that live behind forms — often called gated content — don’t have a place in infantile outbound campaigns. Give your contacts valuable thought leadership gratis to build their confidence in your brand first. For this same reason, you can’t be too sales-y in your copy either. Let readers get to know you and value your expertise before you start selling or asking them for anything in return.

Do Introduce Yourself

Another important piece of the email copy puzzle, particularly when sending to new contacts, is introductory text. Include a snippet discussing your company and your email marketing intentions. This will serve as context for your human readers, but also for the email server. Google, for example, actually “reads” through all emails. If there’s some text laying out who you are, Google is more likely to push that email through to inboxes. Don’t get caught up tooting your own horn, but don’t miss your chance to position your company either. Google does value this type of transparency. 

Safeguard your long-term outbound marketing success by avoiding these three common email engagement snags.