Nowadays people are really trying to get the most out of their email campaigns. This sometimes means going back and using lists you haven’t touched in a while. This can often do more harm than good, so watch out!
Let’s say you haven’t sent any email to your subscribers for a while – about 6 months – and you have now decided to start a weekly newsletter in order to share your coveted knowledge, making your subscribers very happy. You prepare it carefully and send a few tests. Then suddenly you think: “Wait, maybe it would be a good idea to (re)confirm their permission first”. Phew!
This is actually the best move you could make. Sending content to subscribers who haven’t received anything from you in over 6 months is the best way to get into some serious deliverability problems. Chances are they won’t remember ever signing up and hit the ’Spam’ button before you even have a chance to communicate with them. The next thing you know, even people who signed up yesterday aren’t getting your email, or the email is ending up in their Junk folder.
Using old lists increases the risk of you sending to Spamtraps and getting your Domain and/or IP blacklisted. After email addresses have been deactivated for a while, ISPs sometimes use them as bait to catch people using old lists. If you had been sending to this list regularly, these traps would have hardbounced a long time ago and would no longer be on your list. The best way to regain contact with those on older lists is to send a message asking for permission to contact them again and have them re-opt in to your list. Of course, using 6months as a general timeline is a good place to start – the older the list, the bigger the risk that your subscribers won’t remember having subscribed. It’s important to understand that the further you go back, the more likely you are to run into trouble. Realistically, if you haven’t contacted these people at all in the last year, they should no longer be considered part of your list.
Next time: Thinking of Using an ‘Old’ List? – Part 2: Prepare your Re-Opt in Email