Scrub Your Email List For Better Conversion

Instantly Improve Your Email Marketing Performance By Scrubbing Your List
When I started out in internet marketing, I read a lot of advice about “cleaning up your list”. The advice was vague. It is not as though there is a button called “cleanup” in excel. I’ll give you some step-by-step advice that is guaranteed to make you money.

Email Marketing

The Fundamentals of Email Newsletters
The primary function of email newsletters is to get customers to buy. Simple, right? Well, there are so many places where things can go wrong, it is a miracle anyone converts. Here is the flow of an email:
1) Send email out (hopefully to the right address).
2) Mail goes through filters and arrives in their Inbox.
3) The customer likes our brand and the subject enough to open the email and check it out.
4) The customer is interested in the product and offer enough to click-through to the website.
5) Once on the website, then they can start shopping.
6) About 1-2% of people who made it to step 5 will buy.
7) Hopefully they will like the product enough not to return it.

Every step of the way, customers will stop shopping. Our goal is to carry as many people from step 1 to 2, and from 2 to 3, etc. Every time a customer advances to the next step, we think of this as a micro-conversion. We can’t make a sale if the customer doesn’t make it to the website.

Email marketing involves optimizing each of these steps. Improvements in any of these areas will lead to improvement in performance. Often we’ll spend a lot of time on step 4, the design of the email. I think this is because it is the most fun. Creating promos, looking at pictures, merchandising, & selecting models is much more interesting than staring at spreadsheets. But somebody has to do it!

A Real-life Example of Optimizing Step One: List Scrubbing
I just went through an email list with about two hundred thousand entries. Seven and a half percent of the addresses were formatted wrong. These are people who want to hear from you, but they typed their email wrong. 7.5% actually doesn’t sound like a lot of loss, right? Wrong. That is 15,000 people per email. Let’s examine how much money we are losing by doing some quick math.

We send a newsletter 2x a month. Open rate is 30%. CTR is 30%. Conversion rate is 1%. Avg Order $100.
{[(15,000) (2) (.3)] (.3) (.01) (100)}= $2700/month lost.

Ugh! That is money we threw away due to people typing their addresses wrong. But there is good news. This is a relatively easy thing to fix. You can buy software to do this, or get a programmer to help you, or fix this yourself in Excel.

Scrub Yourself
First, export all your addresses to Excel. The “trick” is to replace common bad addresses with good addresses. We know that every email address has the same format: Here are some of the most common errors.

Find and replace (Ctrl-F) each of these variations with “”. Do the same procedure for gmail, aol, msn, hotmail. Congrats. You just fixed half of the errors. I just made you $1300/month in a half hour.

Kind of. 🙂

To recoup the rest of the address, you will have to send the list to an intern and tell them to fix all the unique domain addresses. You’ll probably have people using their school or work addresses, and the replace function will not save you time on these. Also, remember to import your new email addresses to your email provider.

The good news is that there is an easy way to fix this problem going forward. Make your customer type their address twice when they subscribe. This way there will not be any formatting errors in your email list. Making these changes will have a large impact on any email campaign. This is just one step of the email optimization process.