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Clearing the Clutter: Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Email Contact List

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Spring is finally in the air, and with sunshine comes a renewed sense of energy to inspire a fresh start. Here at Campaigner HQ, we kick off the season by cleaning out the clutter that often accumulates over the winter months, effectively allowing us to feel refreshed and ready for new challenges. Admittedly, it can be tough to clean out the various compartments we have as marketers, primarily our massive contact lists. So for the best insight into spring-cleaning to-dos for your business, I turned to our Delivery team to help identify the best ways to freshen up a contact list and start with a sunny new outlook to jump-start the new season.

The upkeep of your contact list can not only influence the success of future email marketing campaigns, but is also a crucial asset for your overall business strategy. Here are four steps to clear the clutter:

Lose the "Winter Weight"
Clean, organized contact lists are important for continued delivery of your email messages. Sure, your Email Service Provider (ESP) will filter and remove unsubscribes and bounce-backs from your list automatically, but what about those people who aren't opening your email at all? There's no sense in spending the time and money populating thousands of junk folders -- so clean them out!

The first step is to identify all inactive contacts. Take advantage of your data analysis tools to examine "last open" and "last click" timestamps to pinpoint at-risk contacts. Separate these targets from those who are active and engaged with your brand so you can focus on the appropriate next steps for each group.

Spot the Social Cues
In the process of spring cleaning, it's important to partake in some introspection and evaluate the effectiveness of your content with your customers. Consider this example: When talking with someone at a party and they bring up a boring topic or repeat themselves like a broken record, you'll likely lose interest, stop responding and consider "needing to use the restroom" for a quick getaway. However, if that person is observant and takes note of your cues, they will see the opportunity to reengage by changing the topic of conversation to entice you to stay and chat for a bit longer.

This scenario translates perfectly to the relationships at play in email marketing: Don't let your contacts walk away. Instead, be observant and reengage with your customers while the door is still open (and permission is still given). The key is maintaining your list beyond the bare minimum and leveraging tools like segmentation, A/B split testing and automation to gain a better understanding of subtle "social" cues. If you notice certain contacts showed decreasing click-through rates or shorter time spent looking at your old winter content, spring into action with a fresh approach. Segment users into separate lists and use A/B split testing to try out some new content or designs they may be more interested in.

Refresh Your Relationships
Once you've identified your inactive contacts, you must reconnect (in other words, tell them what they want to hear). Easier said than done. The best plan of action is to develop a creative and interactive program to reestablish contact and interest with this particular audience. Consider a customer opinion survey to learn what spring favorites they are most looking forward to, brainstorm creative content for a reengagement campaign or offer seasonal discounts on popular product offerings. The key to this reengagement strategy is to utilize "re-opt-in" messaging and opt-down subscription forms with your subscribers. Let them choose if they want to continue the relationship with your business, and if so, let them control the frequency and type of messaging they want to receive. Once you've got a solid plan in place, you'll be fully prepared to dust off the winter snow and rekindle a new springtime relationship.

Plant New Seeds
Once you've executed your reengagement campaign, you will have an updated list of those who have opted (back) in. As for those who didn't interact with email, it's important to let them know you're ending the relationship -- explain that you've noticed they're not showing you love like they used to (by not viewing messages or going to the site), and ask them one last time to confirm they're done, too. If there's no response, cut 'em loose. In doing this, you'll make room for new customers who are excited to spring into engaging with your brand.

Now that you've cleaned and organized your lists, you'll have a refreshed lean, mean, email marketing machine that is truly effective in driving opens, click-throughs and ultimately, revenue. Go ahead, give your list a scrub and you'll spring into success!