If you vowed to give your email performance a boost in 2018, you’re likely exploring a number of new ways to get the results you’re after. You may be tempted to increase your send cadence or even tap into a list you haven’t used in a while, but we all know those tactics could very well leave you with reputation issues and even keep you out of the inbox. Rather than clambering to find the next new strategy, your best bet may be as simple as taking a step back.

When’s the last time you took a good hard look at your list? Have you considered whether your customer base is still interested in your products? Are some of your contacts even valid if they’ve never opened one of your messages? Let’s look at a few ways to clean your list and give your open rates a little kick.

Of Course They Want My Mail!

Even a customer who used to be highly engaged with your brand may have decided it’s time to move on. Perhaps they used to open every message, but now your emails just sit in their inbox or they immediately delete them. Is it really worth keeping these folks on your list?

Think about those new parents who subscribed to your emails because of your company’s cute baby clothes. They may have started interacting with you while expecting their little bundle of joy and shopped regularly for the baby during those first few years, but at some point, they’ll outgrow your products. Unfortunately, we often find companies will continue to send to this audience even when the child is five and six years old. This can have a negative effect on your sender reputation.

Rather than unsubscribing from your emails, some customers may just complain to their ISP (i.e. mark your email as spam) because your messages are no longer relevant. Spam complaints are the number one factor that lowers your reputation and causes increased bulk mail placement – and even potential blocks. Even if they don’t go so far as to register a complaint, ISPs (especially Gmail) will take notice of messages left unattended in the inbox and consider the contact to be unengaged, which also has a negative impact on your sender reputation.

To keep your subscribers engaged and opening your messages, be sure your emails are always relevant – even as your list ages. And consider the needs and preferences of your audience. For example, a customer that just bought a room full of new furniture from you won’t likely be ready to buy again next week.

But They Signed Up!

Or did they? The address made it onto your list, but has the recipient ever opened a message?

If a contact signed up but didn’t at least open your welcome email, it could be a spam trap or an address that was given solely to get a discount or access to view a webpage if it was required. Including a double opt-in as part of your process can give you reassurance that new subscribers are legitimate and are truly interested in receiving your messages. That extra step requires them to confirm their signup and give you permission to email them. If they don’t click to confirm, they’re basically saying, “Don’t add me.” While no one wants to lose any new subscribers, it’s better to let those go from the start. If not, they’ll drag down the success of your email campaigns, which will ultimately affect your bottom line.

The strategies you use to promote your creative email campaigns are only as good as your list. If you’ve seen a decline in engagement or want to encourage more opens, take a hard look at your list. And be sure to monitor it regularly and clean it as needed. Your email campaigns will then reach only those subscribers who really want to hear from you, and the metrics will show it.