Email Engagement

How ‘List Health’ Affects Email Open Rates

Minute read
How ‘List Health’ Affects Email Open Rates

How does the past experience of people on your list influence their interest in receiving ongoing email from you? It turns out quite a lot. The measure of overall email list engagement is called list health.

List health acts like an undercurrent to your email broadcasts and is influenced by cumulative long-term factors such as variety, relevance, quality, and frequency of your content mix. When it’s good, it’s easy to get people to open and act on your emails. You can even slip up and send the occasional poorly composed message—you’ll be forgiven. But when list health suffers, it’s harder to gain your supporters’ attention, even when your content is amazing.

Signs of diminishing list health

Any of these trends are reasons for concern:

  • A rise in unsubscribes
  • A rise in spam reports
  • A fall in open rates and click rates
  • If your server gets blocked by other mailservers then you know you’re in serious trouble

Poor list health makes everything you’re trying to achieve through your email list harder. That’s why protecting it so important.

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How to protect or improve list health

The short version: Adopt best practices. Respect your readers. Don’t cheat.

The long version:

  • Make sure you’ve got the right people on your list. If you need your subscribers to respond to action and donation asks, attract active supporters by fueling your list building strategy with ‘ active’ list entry points. Use a legitimate opt-in process. Never ‘buy’ or ‘rent’ email lists. And regularly ‘ clean’ your list to remove unresponsive email addresses which can hurt your deliverability.
  • Send messages regularly (about once a week is great). Most people think over-emailing is the biggest cause of list fatigue. Under-emailing can be just as harmful. If you contact your supporters too infrequently, they may lose interest or forget who you are. Claim a place in your supporters’ digital media mix by developing a familiar broadcast rhythm. Find the ideal email frequency for your list and try to stick to it.
  • Actively retain your supporters. Keep your subscribers happy by segmenting your list and only sending relevant, personalized content. Adopt a retention strategy which includes monitoring engagement levels for warning signs of list fatigue.

Protecting list health often needs to be a team effort. It’s important that everyone in your team who has access to your email list recognizes their role as a��list custodian.

Most organizations only pay attention to list health after it becomes a problem. By that time, for many supporters, it’s too late. Don’t be most organizations. Make things easier on yourself and your supporters by adopting all those boring life-saving best practices from the outset.

From: 6 things that stop people opening emails

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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