Contact lists can make or break your email campaign. So maintaining a healthy contact list is a key component to successful email marketing.

You can create the most original, ingenious email campaign ever, but if your contact list is a bust, the entire campaign will soon follow suit.

There are some very common mistakes out there that new email marketers make without even realizing it. This post is here to help guide you along your way to becoming the most savvy email marketer in the biz!

Common Mistake #1: Purchasing email lists from third-party vendors

Many email marketers make the mistake of purchasing contact lists. This is one of the most risky moves you can make as an email marketer, and I’m not talking about Tom Cruise in his tighty-whities, sliding across the living room floor…

Why is this such risky business?

Purchased lists can be problematic for many reasons. First and foremost, you don’t know a single person on the list. You have not established a relationship with any of the contacts from a purchased list. I know, I know, “but companies sell these lists!” you say. “They must be valid and reputable!” Possibly, but please understand that there are businesses out there whose sole purpose is to collect email addresses and sell them to the highest bidder. While this is not illegal, many email service providers strongly prohibit the use of purchased lists.

Another reason to avoid purchased lists like the plague is, you have no idea where the email addresses are coming from. This leads to not knowing how old an email address is, or if it’s still in use. Email marketing best practices urge you to never send to an email address that is more than six months old. People move, change jobs and even get fired! The more invalid email addresses you send to, the higher bounce rate you acquire. High bounce rates will get your email marketing sending privileges shut down quick, fast and in a hurry.

Common Mistake #2: Assuming people are chomping at the bit to hear from your business

Riddle me this: what do you do with an email you receive from someone/a business you have never heard of? Me, I move them to the trash faster than you can say, “inbox.” As an email marketer, you can expect recipients who consider you a stranger to, more often than not, move your email to the trash without even opening it. Perhaps you receive emails from people you have never heard of and you have found it helpful. Even cases such as this, if a business sends an email “blast” to a list of unauthorized contacts, it is still considered spam.

If you are sending emails to contacts on your list because you assume they all want to hear from/about your business, you are sending spam. If you want to send email marketing to “prospects” who have never heard of you, you should use your own server and not an email service provider (such as Zift123). Email service providers that offer email marketing or bulk email services must adhere to anti-spam laws.

Common Mistake #3: Sending to contacts who have not opted-in to your email marketing

Tip 1 – Get permission from all your recipients before you begin sending them emails

Getting permission automatically ensures that all your contacts can’t wait to hear from you! With some email service providers, you have the capability to configure settings so that you can only send to contacts who have been marked as authorized to receive communications. This action will result in better deliverability, clicks and open rates.

Tip 2 – It should be clear to your contacts what they are authorizing and why they are receiving emails from your business.

You can direct contacts to sign up to receive communications from within most email service provider accounts. This type of structure clears up any confusion your contacts may have about who, what and why they are signing up to receive marketing from your company.

Common Mistake 4: Sending to stagnant contact email addresses

Once a contact has opted-in to receive your email marketing, they have about a six-month shelf-life before the contact goes stale. If a contact has not heard from you in over six months, it is safe to assume that sending to them without a fresh authorization, will not generate good results. It is wise to continuously update your contact lists and reconfirm your opt-ins twice a year.

Please visit the email marketing gurus over at MailChimp to see a great scenario chart containing the do’s and don’ts of obtaining contacts for your lists.

Share a time when you had less than desirable results with an email marketing campaign you sent out. What did you find to be the most difficult obstacles in your email marketing journey?