Email Marketing Delivery Tips: Segment, Test, and Re-engage

Email Marketing Delivery Tips: Segment, Test, and Re-engage

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Our compliance and deliverability team is pretty busy dealing with the dark side of email marketing, but from time-to-time they do find time to share their thoughts. These are their stories.

Last time we provided tips on cleaning up your act in terms of client data.

This time the focus is what to do with that fresh and tidy data.

Segment, Test and Re-engage

Okay, now we get to have some fun.

Now that you are collecting important information about new sign ups, you can use it to improve your overall success rates.

Do keep in mind that every marketing list is different and every marketer has an audience with unique properties.

The general rule of thumb (and a requirement if you use SimplyCast) is to not use any data that has been inactive for more than 2 years.

Inactive means a contact:

  1. Hasn't bought
  2. Hasn't Opened
  3. Hasn't Clicked
  4. Hasn't Logged In to your application
  5. Has previously hard-bounced

If you've been mailing to your list on a regular basis, and you've been tracking your opens, clicks, and other engagement data important to your business, take these users, and put them in their own list.

We will send these users their own copy of the email, separate from those who haven't been as active.

You will want to limit this sub-set to users or people who've been active in the last 3-6 months in order to make sure they really are still active subscribers.

Now, take the balance of your data, and remove all users who have been there for more than 2 years.

It should go without saying that you want to also throw away anyone who's hard bounced, or unsubscribed from your emails previously.

If you've been using SimplyCast, this is easy, because this process is automatically handled by our delivery systems.

If you haven't tracked your hard bounces, you will want to pay extra attention to the next few steps, and take a cautious approach to completing your sends.

Group your data by age, in one month chunks. Start with data from the last 30 days, and create lists or list segments for each period. If your lists are really small you can consolidate a few months together to speed up the sending process a little. If your lists are really big (20,000 or more subscribers / month) consider breaking this into a week by week, or 15 day period to improve your results.

You can modify these suggestions to meet your data, and we recommend being more cautious, and sending to smaller lists as the data gets older.

When using these list segments, plan a campaign to reach each of your subscribers over the next month. Start with the newest and work your way backwards. Try not to send to more than 10-15% of your data each day, and spread out the individual sends if you can. After each campaign, look at your results.

We're trying to focus on where performance drops off, and we'll want to stop the campaign if it dips below certain performance thresholds.

If you see: High bounce rates (Above 5%): A 3% hard bounce rate is where an average campaign should be, and a good campaign should have few or no bounces at all. This number is pretty much guaranteed to increase as you work backwards through your lists unless you already have great cleaning practices.

High complaint rates (at or around 0.1% or One per Thousand): Complaints really hurt at the big 'free' email domains like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL. If you keep your campaigns below this threshold, you'll stay in the inbox. Exceed it, and you risk having all your messages sent to junk or blocked completely.

High unsubscribe rates (More than 10% of your opens are unsubscribes): If everyone who opens your message is unsubscribing, it is probably a good idea to stop the campaign right away. Odds are if you've hit this threshold, your complaints and bounces are going to go up from here too, which will hurt your ability to deliver email.

Low open rates (less than 1%): A 1% open rate is pretty low, but if you've removed your normal opens from the campaign as suggested above, it is a decent marker for when to stop, as your return on investment (ROI) won't make the email blast worth it.

After each send, take the engaged subscribers and move them from these lists to what will become your new 'main' list.

This practice will give you a good clean, engaged list to send to, and should increase your overall ROI. You can also keep your most recent data or data that was gathered recently using the best practices listed previously without risk to your future campaigns.

The content of this campaign should be something that entices users to read, and stay engaged with the email newsletters you send.


You can try a win back type message, offering discounts or incentives for the user to come back to your business. You can try a re-opt-in campaign, where you simply ask the users if they still want to receive future emails. You can also try just sending your regular content, and seeing what happens, but a message targeted to this group will likely have better results.

Consider designing the content so that it can be re-used. It is a good Idea to run a campaign like this every 6-12 months, to make sure you keep your list in excellent condition.

There you have it, email marketing delivery tips to help you clean up your act.

For more tips and answers when it comes to compliance and deliverability, take a look at our FAQ or older blog posts.

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