Reconfirmation Messages: Clean Up Your List!

  |  December 2, 2004   |  Comments

What to do when your e-mail list contains many older addresses.

Your email list has a large number of older addresses. How can you minimize list atrophy and restore your list to its former glory? Reconfirmation can help separate the wheat from the chaff on your list.

The following presumes all the recipients on your list opted in at some point. Any addresses that didn’t should never have been on the list and should be removed straightaway.

Approaches to Reconfirmation

To reconfirm addresses, send a message to recipients informing them they’re on your list. They can either remain on the list or unsubscribe. Some mailing list software can be configured to do this automatically periodically, but most can’t.

Reconfirmation is an excellent tool for those list segments that aren’t at either end of the spectrum. They’re not so old they should be entirely discarded, and they’re not so new they can be used without concern.

There are two approaches to reconfirmation: opt-in and opt-out. The opt-in approach requires recipients to take a specific action to remain on the list (usually clicking on a URL). Opt-out requires them to take action to be removed from the list (usually clicking on a link or sending a removal request).

The opt-out approach is generally more attractive to marketers, as it loses fewer addresses. However, it doesn’t clean the list as effectively. Recipients of messages that are blackholed or quarantined aren’t removed by opt-out. Further, users have long been advised not to unsubscribe from spam. Some recipients will complain or take no action rather than opt-out. A few believe since they hadn’t opted in before they shouldn’t need to opt out now.

Selecting the Recipients

Though many factors may be considered and precise determination depends on circumstances, there are two key dimensions to think about:

  • Recency. How recently was the segment contacted by email? Within the last six months? Within the last year? Never?

  • Provenance. How good is the record and evidence of their opt-in? Full source, date, and IP address? A flag indicating the source of the subscription? No record?

Writing the Message

Craft a clear, concise reconfirmation message. You can provide an example of what the recipient will receive, but avoid making the message look like a marketing solicitation. This will only confuse recipients about the message’s purpose. The message should:

  • Inform recipients why they’re receiving the message.

  • Remind them when, where, and how they originally signed up.

  • Tell them what they can expect to receive from you in the future.

  • Tell them what they should do to continue or stop receiving messages from you.

Sending the Message

ISPs and recipients generally react favorably to these kinds of reconfirmation messages. However, many run automated blocking systems. A high bounce rate could block your message, at least temporarily. And some recipients may complain about an opt-in reconfirmation.

To minimize the effect of this, send the message in batches and monitor bounce rates and complaints. If a particular segment proves troublesome, switch it from opt-out to opt-in (if it’s not already) or discard it completely. If you’re experiencing deliverability issues with a particular ISP, talk with it about what you’re doing and why. ISPs are generally very receptive to people trying to do the right thing. Hold off on sending more messages until the issue is resolved.

With a well-crafted reconfirmation message, you can effectively clean up an otherwise problematic list. Once it’s clean, keep it that way with regular communications and good list hygiene practices.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Derek Harding

Derek Harding is the CEO and founder of Innovyx Inc., a member of the Omnicom Group and the first e-mail service provider to be wholly owned by a full-service marketing agency. A British expatriate living in Seattle, WA, Derek is a technologist by background who has been working in online marketing on both sides of the Atlantic for the last 10 years.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...
    • Interactive Product Manager
      Interactive Product Manager (Western Governors University) - Salt Lake CityWestern Governors University, one of the 20 largest universities...