Panic: Email Marketing List Maintenance Done Right


If you’re engaged in email marketing, you already know: your company’s email marketing list is an important business asset.

A good subscriber list takes time to build. But the work doesn’t just stop there – if you go to the effort to build a subscriber list, you should also be taking the time to maintain it.

You should already have a mechanism to weed out hard-bouncing email addresses – this helps you stay on the good side of spam filters, and (as your list grows) lessens your server load. But equally as important is making sure you’re keeping the subscribers who are interested, and getting rid of those who will likely never convert. You can do this by sending out a reconfirmation email.

What is a reconfirmation email?

It’s a simple email that asks you to reconfirm that you want to keep receiving emails. As Derek Harding explains, there are two types of reconfirmation emails: opt-in (which requires subscribers to take a specific action to stay subscribed) and opt-out (which asks the subscriber to take specific action in order to unsubscribe). Naturally, opt-out is the most attractive to marketers, as it loses fewer subscribers.

My reason for writing this post was a reconfirmation email I recently received from Panic, a company that makes great software for the Mac. Here’s a screenshot (click to view the full-sized image):


This is a reconfirmation email done right. It’s simple and to the point, reminding me that they’re there and offering me the opportunity to opt-out, should I desire.

What does it really accomplish?

For Panic, it lets them re-focus their list on the subscribers who are likely to convert to sales. By cleaning their list, they can better segment it and make messages more relevant to subscribers…and as Douglas Karr points out, “smaller email lists and targeted content always outperform mass media.” They can expect to see their email marketing success metrics improve, just by eliminating the people who aren’t interested and focusing on those who are.

(If nothing else, it also gives them some subscriber face-time to build their brand.)

For me (the subscriber), it reminds me that they’re there (& that I haven’t visited their awesome blog lately)…and it builds trust. The simple act of them sending this email assures me that they’re not the type of company that will spam me. That’s huge. It’s good customer service, internet marketing-style, and makes me want to stay on the list because I know my time won’t be wasted.

By occasionally pruning your list, you can focus your list on quality over quantity, and get a much more accurate representation of how successful your marketing efforts are. Depending on your email marketing software, you can even target the email to those who haven’t opened the last X emails you’ve sent. I’d recommend only sending it out once a year (twice at most) – but if you’re not doing occasional list maintenance like this, you should definitely consider it.

It’s the new year, after all – a great time to do some cleaning.

Kipp Chambers
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist

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