List / Data Collection Best Practices


The following is meant to provide basic guidelines for list management and data collection best practices.  If at any point you are unsure about any of the following statements, please contact us at for further assistance.  

List management and data collection can often appear to be challenging to the novice email marketer but all the ins and outs, rules, etc. can be distilled to one simple rule: Only email recipients who have directly opted-in to your lists.

While you are not legally prohibited from emailing indirectly opted in recipients, use of purchased, rented, harvested, or otherwise indirectly opted-in lists is prohibited in ReachMail. Use of these list types will cause excessive spam complaints and lead to termination of your ReachMail account. Consider that many businesses survive by selling client data.  If you’re using a purchased or rented list, not only are many other senders using the same list, the recipients will not know who you are and will mark your message as spam. Spam complaints will negatively impact your ability to deliver mail to your clients.

Often we see clients moving from other Email Service Providers (ESPs) to our platform.  In some cases, new clients may forget to export only valid addresses and bring invalid (opted-out, hard bounced) address with them. If you're porting your list data from another ESP, export your invalid contacts separately. Invalid addresses can be imported into the global opt out list in your account for permanent suppression if need be, or removed from your list file before importing.  Taking these steps can only improve your chances for landing in the inbox.  Failing to implement these steps can result in the bulking of your emails or even worse, the termination of your ReachMail account.

Around 30% of all email addresses change every year.  This is even more predominant in the private sector (private domains as opposed to free mail domains like Gmail, Yahoo!, or Aol) where email addresses are terminated when employees move on to different jobs.  At the very least, begin your campaigns with the most recent year of sign-ups.  If all goes well, considering importing the older sign-ups in 6-month chunks.  In some industries 1 year is too long while in others, recipient retention can be much longer.  1 year is a good baseline measure to use, though if you feel this isn’t accurate for your industry, consider importing each year’s sign-ups as separate lists.  This will help diagnose potential problems more effectively.

Additionally, the industry sets guidelines for delivery stats on your messages. Failure to adhere to these benchmarks can result in the rejection of your message as soft bounces, delivery to the spam folder, or worse: the blacklisting of your sending domain. The latter can lead to delivery problems with your person to person emails due to problems stemming from your marketing emails. The benchmarks are as follows:

  • Hard Bounces (invalid emails) fewer than 1% of your list
  • FBLs - Spam Complaints (feed back loops) fewer than 0.1% - 1 per 1000

What to do:

  • Collect sign-ups through a form on your website

  • Stay in contact with your recipients to ensure invalid addresses are weeded out on a regular basis

  • Email business contacts with whom you already have an existing relationship

  • Use a double opt-in sign-up form to ensure invalid addresses are not inadvertently added to your list

  • Remove zombie addresses from your list on a regular basis (addresses that do not consistently open your messages)

What not do:

  • Use a purchased or rented list

  • Email to indirectly opted in recipients (third party opt ins usually in the form or a purchased or rented list)

  • Scrape or harvest email address from online sources

  • Email to recipients who were added to your list more than 1 year ago

  • Email to recipients who have already opted out of your list

  • Email to recipients who have already hard bounced in your list at another ESP.

  • Do not mail to your LinkedIn contacts, Social Media connections or personal contacts unless they have directly opted in through your sign up form.

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