June 28, 2018

Zombie-Leads: Symptoms, Verification, & Treatment for Unnatural Email Marketing Deaths

Written by
Anastasia Suhareva

22 percent of addresses in your email list will die during the next year. Up to one-third of your subscribers will never react to your emails. Just accept it.

No, this is not a marketers horror story, but real statistics. And now, while you read this article, dead email addresses are already doing their dirty work on your perfect list.

In order to help you prevent the infection from spreading to your whole email list, Anastasia Sukhareva, Content Marketer at AtomPark Software–the developer of professional software for email and SMS marketing–brings you a brief guide on how to resist zombie-leads: the reasons, symptoms of the disease, and treatment options and tools.

The thirst for destruction: zombie-leads in your email campaign

good vs bad email addresses

First of all, what do we mean by zombie-leads?

Email databases may consist of different elements: emails addresses, their owners’ name, job position, phone number, interests, etc. The combination of this info is what we call a lead. But what is a zombie-lead?

Let’s imagine the lead in a form of a sphere at the center of which is the most important information – email address, and in the periphery – less important – name, job position, phone number etc.

What happens to the lead if the email address is wrong, doesn’t exist, or is invalid?

Wrong email = dead email = dead lead = zombie-lead

If the heart of the lead is dead, the rest of the information is meaningless. It transforms into a zombie – the dead contact in your database.

The walking dead of your email list are:

  • non-deliverable domains
  • duplicates
  • unsubscribes
  • service email addresses (in a B2C sector)
  • temporary emails
  • addresses with typos
  • non-existing email address

Inactive addresses are serviceable emails that do not show any activity; a kind of sleepwalker that is a potential zombie.

It’s better to bury all these addresses, because, little by little, but they will harm your business. There’s only one choice: kill these email addresses or they will eat your email campaigns.

How can dead emails harm your business?

This problem is highly toxic for email marketing. Just as mass mailing is useful for business, dead emails in the subscribers address list are harmful to business.

Zombie-addresses are eager to destroy your:

  • sender reputation and deliverability – the more deliver mistakes and unopened emails you have – the lower your reputation and chances of getting Inbox. Moreover, if email providers (for example, Gmail) notice that you have a low rating, they have the right to mark you as a spammer and send all your email campaigns directly to spam.
  • budget – the majority of mass mailing services calculate the cost of the email campaign from the number of subscribers in your list – if there are hundreds of thousands of addresses and 10 percent of them are bad, you set yourself up for revenue loss.
  • sales rating – subscribers will not know about your offer, as they will not read your email messages because they are in the spam folder – a consequence of bad sender reputation. The result is a decrease in sales.

First Symptoms

The signs of an email list infection can go unnoticed. The team might have a lack of knowledge of the disease symptoms, neglect of the email campaigns stats, or underestimate email list verification.

Nevertheless, the symptoms are real and easy to diagnose. The signs of the disease are obvious in the stats of the few last email campaigns.

declining open rates

source: optinmonster.com

You’ve got a problem if:

  • there is a pattern of declining open and click rates
  • the rate of unsubscribing or reporting your emails as spam more than usual
  • there is high email bounce rate (>8 percent)

The reasons: Why do emails turn into zombies?
We’ve chosen the most common reasons how dead addresses appear in your perfect list:

  • Person changed the email address
  • The domain of the address is expired
  • Email provider is down
  • A low-quality email list bought from a third party source
  • The person specified the wrong/temporary email intentionally
  • The subscriber mistyped the email address

That means that the majority of the problems can be prevented by cleaning the email list as the addresses are added. Otherwise, your list will continue to grow with the number of walking dead addresses that will stand in the way of your brand’s success.

The treatment: the importance of email list validation

So, what is the best way to stop a zombie-apocalypse in your email marketing campaigns? Stake to the heart? Headshot? Cut off the head? Which way to kill zombie-lead is best?

Let’s start with more peaceful methods.

The best way of treating this infection is regular use of email verification/list managing software and qualitative analysis of email campaigns stats. First of all, you need to regularly analyze the statistics of your email campaigns’ results for the symptoms of infection that we talked about above.

If you notice some signs, it’s time to clean up your list. Use an inexpensive, quick and effective tool for email address verification.

Then check the rest of your addresses and remove duplicates.

Work with bounced email addresses: if you see the bounces in the campaign report, don’t hurry to delete these addresses.

First check whether you receive a hard or soft bounce. Then put these addresses in a separate list and suppress the process of sending emails to them.

What to do with inactive emails? Try to re-engage subscribers by sending them reactivation emails. Create a separate list of people who haven’t opened your emails in a long time. Send them a specially prepared email like this:

reengage your email list

Offer them something valuable like a special piece of content, discount coupons, new trial version of your software, or anything else that might tempt them to stick around. Remove addresses of those who did not accept your offer from the list.

And finally, give freedom to unsubscribers. Remove them from from your list immediately.

Final Thoughts

Artificial maintenance the size of a poor quality email list will not help your email marketing. Dead addresses will not leave your database by themselves, they will continue to live, poisoning the success of your campaigns.

Either you get rid of them, or in time they will get rid of you, your brand’s email campaigns, and your reputation.

Anastasia Suhareva – Content Marketing Manager at AtomPark Software, a company that provides professional tools for email and SMS marketing. She is a young voice of marketing progress, obsessed with a creative copywriting, design and experimenting with new ideas and trends.