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6 Reasons Email List Data Goes Bad

by Sean Heilweil on June 4, 2019

Did you know that nearly 2% of your email list decays every month?

This means that over 20% of the emails on your list become undeliverable every year.

Also, did you know that it costs up to five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one?

I hope it’s obvious already, but if it’s not, this means you will lose a considerable amount of your subscribers each year unless you work just as hard to reduce subscriber churn as you do to acquire those subscribers in the first place.

There are a number of different reasons why email addresses become invalid. Some of these reasons are a bit more technical, others relate to human behavior. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons your email list data goes bad.

Why do emails go bad?

1. Changed email provider or service

One of the most common reasons for an email to go bad is due to changes in email provider or service. Most people typically get their email address from a local ISP and then switch to another provider like Gmail, or vice versa.

2. Changed email within the same provider

Quite possibly the most common reason for list decay is due to people changing their email but keeping the same provider. For example, a person created their email address years ago, with the email xoJulyBabyxo@gmail.com. As a young adult entering the job market, the use of this old email might be quite embarrassing when applying for a new job or crafting a resume. The person will likely switch to a more appropriate email address, such as firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

3. Changed position within the company

To add extra privacy, employees at large companies may have different types of email addresses. Low-level and C-level employees will usually have different email formats to prevent unwanted emails from reaching the executives at the company. As a person works their way up in a company, their old email addresses may no longer be valid, causing the email campaigns you send them to bounce.

4. Job changes

When an employee leaves or is fired from a company, their email becomes unreachable or simply redirects to another employee who is now responsible for their job duties. Even though your message may be delivered, you won’t be reaching the intended recipient.

5. Domain is dead

A more technical, but common reason for undeliverable email addresses is a dead domain. If the website is down, the domain is unregistered, or a mail server isn’t set up, you won’t be able to deliver your message to the recipient. This is a good indication that the company has gone out of business.

6. Free email provider is dead or down

A less typical, but still possible reason for email decay is if the email provider shuts down or their servers are down. In this instance, there is no chance to deliver your email message to that recipient’s email inbox.

How to reduce subscriber churn

Preventing subscriber churn is a hard, never-ending battle. By keeping an eye on the six reasons above, regularly providing valuable content, and continuing to build trust and relationships with your potential and existing customers, you’ll be able to better manage the inevitable difficulties of email marketing.

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