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How to Collect Emails the Right Way

How to grow a subscriber base is always top of mind for companies that are invested in email, but so many of those same companies don’t bother to clean up what they already have and/or have a signup process that invites a lot of bad email addresses to be added in.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind about how to acquire good email addresses the right way and to keep things copacetic with your sending reputation.

You Do Want This.

Legitimate email addresses that opted in to receive email from you.

You Don’t Want This.

Purchased/rented email addresses, invalid email addresses (ex: gmai.co, yahoo.co), role accounts (ex: admin@, sales@, etc) or non-engaged email addresses (those who haven’t opened in a certain amount of time (six months, 1 year, etc).

Bad emails can get into your database in three ways:

  • A user misspells their email address upon signup.
  • Someone editing a database misspells it upon entry.
  • Someone buys/rents a list which contains them.

Why Does Any Of This Matter?

A high-performing email program starts with who you’re sending to. By sending to either bad addresses or unengaged users, you open yourself up to lowering your sending reputation and potential blacklisting from both legit mailbox providers (some of which convert inactive email addresses to spamtraps) and blacklist operators who own some of those typo domains in order to dissuade sending to them.

Evaluate The Problem.

Before you do any of this, run a filter on your database to see how many misspelled domains you actually have. Download a few months of your hard/soft bounces, remove the local side (everything before the @ symbol) and do an alphabetical sort, focusing on the major mailbox providers. If you have a lot of misspellings, you’ll see where to start.

Avoid Typos At Signup.

The best method to avoid having a user give you the wrong address is to create a double entry box for your email signup, requiring them to enter their email twice. It’s a little more friction to the process, but it eliminates the problem.

You can take it a step further and integrate your signup with a company that instantly verifies whether the address is actually legit, preventing it from getting into your database to begin with. Companies like BriteVerify look at both the local side (before the @) and the domain side (after the @) so you’re covered in both instances.

Edit Your Database.

If you manually input addresses into your database, set up the same rules as above so you’re not putting in bad data. Depending on your CRM, this might be more complicated but a third party integration could make that process a lot easier, especially on an ongoing basis.

Do This.

Clean all of the addresses you don’t want/shouldn’t have out of your database if you don’t plan on correcting them. Depending on your resources and how valuable those users could be to you, try a phone/direct mail campaign to them in order to get the right email address. In short, get them out of your database.

Don’t Do This. 

Don’t do a find and replace and change the domains (ex. gmail.co to gmail.com). That’s not a best practice and opens you up to increased complaints or worse if you’re emailing those who didn’t expect to get your email to begin with. Depending on your sign-up process (which should be double opt-in), someone could have entered the email wrong on purpose, raising bigger issues if you email what you assume to be the correct email address.

So, to summarize:

  • Review your data collection techniques and patch up the holes.
  • Review your database to gauge how many typos are in your database.
  • Cleanup the existing data you have and come up with a long-term automated plan to avoid the problem returning in the future.

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Whois: Josh Nason

Josh Nason is a Reputation Manager at Oracle Dyn Global Business Unit, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.