email marketing

Email marketing is no longer only a tool used by spammers trying to trap hapless email users into clicking and buying their product with misleading information. Today, it is an essential marketing tool for retailers to reach their consumers effectively without cluttering their private time or space.

Email is a very busy platform and therefore your marketing email has to prove its usefulness at many junctions before it reaches your consumers to actually claim their attention.

This will be the first of a series of 3 blogs diving into the nuances of email marketing. There are a few different practices that are recommended to ensure your email reaches its destination hale and healthy.

The first of these 3 major categories, which will be discussed today is The Email List.

The Email List

The Email list is often where you start the campaigning. It’s important to ensure that these emails belong to your active consumers who have expressed interest in receiving the content in your emails.

How do you collect your email ids?

There are multiple guidelines when collecting email ids to ensure the interest of both the retailer and (especially) the consumers are protected. What are the correct ways to collect email ids for your marketing campaign?

The two important things to consider are

  1. Disclose how you intend to use the email id when collected from your consumers.
  2. Obtain consent that they understand and accept your intentions.

It is recommended that the disclosure should include information about how the email id is going to be used such as; type and frequency of messages, and if it is going to be shared or rented to a 3rd part, which would result in other messages being sent to the consumer.

There are multiple practices of obtaining consent, and each comes with different degrees of freedom and convenience.

email marketing

  • Double Opt-IN – Where the consumer who has explicitly opted in for receiving emails is sent a welcome email with a link and opt-in is confirmed only after the link is clicked.
  • Opt-IN with verification – Where the consumer who has explicitly opted in for receiving emails is sent a welcome email disclosing the intent of how the email id will be used with an explicit link to unsubscribe.
  • Opt-IN – Where the consumer’s consent to Opt-IN for emails by providing her/his email id is considered as consent.

There are few cases where an Opt-IN is not explicit but considering doing business with the retailer and providing the email address assumes consent. In cases of referrals it is recommended that the retailer sends a welcome email requesting for explicit consent.

The practice one chooses depends on the convenience and feasibility of each marketer.

However, it is important to keep in mind that sending an email to an uninterested consumer is a simple waste of bandwidth and hence the above options should not be used to manipulate and grow one’s email list artificially.

The law of the land also can have a say in who you can send or not send emails to. “Do not Contact” or equivalent lists could be maintained by the government or associated 3rd party where the users can specify their generic preferences for getting promotional content on their emails. Not abiding by such laws can be catastrophic.

How good is your email list?

Once you have a list, it is important to ensure its validity. The following are a few causes that affect the quality of your email list, which in turn affects the quality of your campaign.

Invalid emails

A consumer who felt obligated to provide an email might have given you a non-existing email address, or human errors in recording email addresses correctly due to typos and other mistakes may result in invalid email ids.

email marketing listsThese errors can be prevented if your email collection follows the double Opt-IN method. However, that may not be possible for many practical reasons such as the turn-around time required for double Opt-INs.

Over spending on bandwidth to send to non-existing emails is just a small part of the problem. The bigger and more serious problem is that having a significant portion of invalid addresses in your mailing list makes the ISPs suspicious of you as a sender.

In their endeavor to protect the interest of their users, ISPs will block messages, including legitimate ones coming from such senders. They may even blacklist you or apply more scrutiny on your messages. Neither is good news for a sender and gaining back your reputation would be a hard task.

Ensure a clean list by removing all of those emails that bounce with 5xx error indicating it as an unreachable email.

Inactive emails

Many retailers carry records of their consumers for years, and it is possible that the email ids in the records have gone in-active overtime.

email marketing invalid emailsIssues caused by using inactive emails is similar to invalid emails, but can be more serious if an inactive email is used as a Spam-trap by ISPs.

ISPs again in their endeavor to protect the best interest of their users, are always on the look out for spammers to add to their black-list. One of the spam-traps used is to enable very old, unused or inactive emails to check if anyone sending messages to them, as none would be expected and therefore the ISPs easily classify such senders as spammers.

Temporarily inactive email ids

email marketing invalid emailsThese are also called Soft bounces, where the email account is unable to receive emails but the issue is only temporary. It is important to keep track of such errors and weed out the emails if the error doesn’t resolve in a reasonable period of time or number of attempts.

The email servers, especially those with private firewalls and proxies that are often used by corporations, may not provide the correct error messages and/or use the correct format for rejecting your email. Repeated attempts to send, even after multiple rejections would further affect your reputation as a sender.


Best ways to ensure your email list is valid and current:email marketing best practices

  • Weed out the bouncing emails (hard and soft bounces mentioned above).
  • Ensure there is an explicit unsubscribe link and efficiently process such requests so that no more emails are sent to such users.
  • Set up feedback loops with ISPs to get spam reports (reports of cases where the user has marked your email as spam) and unsubscribe such users.

If you are importing an email list from an older system without these practices, it is recommended that the email list is whitelisted before they are used in the newer system. This way they would not adversely affect the reputation of the newer system.

Whitelisting is a method where 3rd party vendors validate the email list to remove Invalid and Inactive email list without actually sending emails.


With all of the human power and capital put towards reaching new and existing customers via email, it is crucial that these best practices are used to make sure you are getting the right bang for your buck! Next, we will discuss the Email Sending Infrastructure.

Interest in revamping your email campaigns? Contact us here or read more about the Lifecycle Marketer or Campaign Manager.


– Chetana Arakanakere

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