What does having good hygiene have to do with email marketing?

What does having good hygiene have to do with email marketing?

So here’s a funny but true story about the word ‘hygiene.’

A long, long time ago – circa 1993 – I landed my first full-time job at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. You, youngsters, might know it now as the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

I remember the day I got the call. I was about 22 and still living at home with my parents. So when the phone rang, and I was in the shower, my mother thought it was a great idea to bring me the phone, instead of taking a message. Keep in mind this was well before cell phones, but we did have portable telephones.

So with the phone in hand, she knocks on the bathroom door and opens it simultaneously, shouting, “Honey, Johns Hopkins is on the phone for you!” But, as you may know, “the” Mr. Johns Hopkins was not on the other line, but an HR representative was the one delivering the news.

After some angry faces and embarrassed under-my-breath grumbling aimed at my mother, I stuck one dripping wet arm out of the shower curtain and grabbed the phone with my pruney fingers. I tried to maintain my composure as I said in my calmest, Adele voice, “Hello.” 

The voice on the other line explained that she was a representative of The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and was calling to offer me the Publications Coordinator position for an annual salary of $23,000 per year.

So there I was, buck naked, phone in hand, accepting my very first job offer. I was so excited! I felt like I had won the jackpot.

The irony is that not only was I squeaky clean at the time, but I later found out that the reason I got the job was that I passed my proofreading test with flying colors.

You see, weeks before my infamous shower call, I was asked to evaluate the school’s monthly newsletter. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb, and on the back cover in tiny print was the return address information typeset, “Johns Hopkins School of Pubic Health.” Yep. That typo not only got me hired but likely got someone else fired since I suspect that boilerplate had been in place for a long time.

As a result, I went on to accomplish quite a few things during my four years at Hopkins, including the rebrand when the powers that be opted to drop the word, “Hygiene” from the school’s name!

The Gazette excerpt

Now, back in the early 1990s, newsletters were printed by the thousands, mailed externally, and distributed throughout the entire institution. Today, the number of printed newsletters companies produce pales compared to those electronically distributed via email (although both still have their place — that’s a future blog article). And that, friends, is what brings us back to the word “hygiene” — data hygiene.

Make sure your email contact list has good hygiene.

Email marketing continues to be the leading marketing channel because of its return on investment (ROI). On average, 99% of people check their email every day, and the current average email open rate is 17.61%.

However, that doesn’t guarantee your email will make it to inboxes, get opened, or get clicked. Several factors impact all of these key performance indicators (KPIs). So, what’s the first step to keeping your email KPIs strong? A clean email list. 

Clean email lists combined with a great email marketing strategy as its foundation will keep your email engagement high and your unsubscribe and spam rates low.

The key to a squeaky clean list is to have a great routine and stick with it. So grab your favorite calendar tool and create a schedule for cleaning up your lists. Some of you will be concerned that doing so will reduce the number of contacts in your database and assume that it’s bad. It’s not. 

When it comes to email data hygiene, quality is always better than quantity.

Think of it this way — taking ten showers in cold water with no soap will never get you as clean as taking one shower in hot water with lots of bubbles! If your list is dirty, people won’t engage with what you’re sending, and that’s a waste of time and money. Your content marketing resources will be better spent cleaning up your list at least once a year, with a “mini cleanse” each month or after each send.

Rinse and repeat the following steps to scrubbing your email list:

  1. Check for duplicates, typos, and other email red flags that the email will bounce (be undeliverable)
  2. Identify disengaged subscribers
  3. Identify reasons for bounces
  4. Try to reengage inactive subscribers
  5. Segment your list and remove inactive subscribers

Following this simple yet effective email marketing hygiene routine will give your company a clear picture of who is engaging with your campaigns and what they’re interested in (or not interested in). Other benefits include:

  1. Limited unsubscribes
  2. Decreased spam complaints
  3. Improved deliverability
  4. Improved open rate
  5. Lowered costs (as most email service providers (ESPs) charge a fee based on your list count – no sense paying for someone who doesn’t get your email or gets it but doesn’t give a hoot about what you’re sending!)

So let’s recap the essential hygiene tips we’ve covered today:

  1. Shower regularly, but don’t get in the shower when you’re expecting an important phone call.
  2. Be sure always to proofread your work.
  3. Consistently cleanse your email data.

If you need help with either of the last two issues, give us a call at 410-366-9479 or shoot us an email. We’ll be glad to help you clean up your act. You’re on your own for #1.

About Incite Creative, Inc.: Incite Creative is a marketing advisory firm that works in an outsourced capacity. In short, we become your company’s chief marketing officer (CMO) and do so virtually and efficiently — saving you time and money. Since 1999 we’ve had the pleasure of building and boosting brands for a core set of industries. Our thoughtful process, experienced team, and vested interest in our client’s success have positioned us as one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most sought-after marketing partners for those looking to grow their brand awareness and bottom line. Stop paying for digital and traditional services you may not need. Our retainer, no mark-up model means our recommendations don’t come with any catch or commission. The advice we provide aligns with what you need and what fits within your budget. For more information, contact us at 410-366-9479 or [email protected]