mac keyboard with coffee cup to symbolize email list management
Hospitality Marketing

Restaurant Email Marketing #5: Simple Email List Management

Welcome to the fifth and final installment in my Restaurant Email Marketing Series! Here are parts 1 – 4 in case you missed them:

Part 1: Build That List
Part 2: The Welcome Email
Part 3: Content Tips for Better Emails
Part 4: Email Optimization for Better Results

At this stage in the game, your email list should be growing and your marketing efforts should be thriving. Now it’s time to keep that list clean and tidy through email list management. This means we’re going to remove any email addresses that are bouncing or not engaging with your emails.

It may feel counterintuitive to cut email subscribers when the whole point of part 1 was to BUILD your email list. But we want a sleek, engaged list that isn’t bloated by unengaged subscribers.

Compare your open rates and bounce rates to the chart above. If your metrics are way off for your segment, it may be time to do a little list pruning.

Why is email list management important?

As we discussed in part 4 on email optimization, one of our major goals is to avoid spam filters. Part of that equation is maintaining a your sender reputation.

A good sender reputation tells email clients like Gmail and Outlook that emails from you can be trusted. But if you have a low click rate on your emails, or a high bounce rate (meaning a high percentage of your emails get returned by the recipient’s email server), your sender reputation will be damaged.

That’s the main reason why we want to get rid of bad email addresses or subscribers who never engage with your email content. A bad sender reputation will keep your emails out of the inboxes of people who do want to hear from you. And that’s no good.

Another reason — email marketing isn’t free. Most email marketing providers like Mailchimp and Constant Contact only offer a limited number of free emails, often 1,500 or 2,000 per month. So pretty soon, you’ll be paying for these emails.

While the return on investment for email marketing makes it worth the cost, we don’t want to be wasting money by sending emails to people who will never open them.

So let’s discuss who stays, and who gets the axe.

Remove people who bounce repeatedly

There are two kinds of “bounces” in email marketing — hard bounces and soft bounces.

Hard bounces are emails that fail to deliver, usually because of a bad email address. If it was a work email, the person may have left the company. Or the address may be misspelled. But no matter what, email will never go through to that address.

Some email providers will remove email addresses that hard bounce automatically, so your emails won’t send to them again.

Soft bounces are generally caused by a temporary issue. An email server could be down, or the inbox could be full. If you receive multiple soft bounces from the same email address, it’s time to remove that address from your list.

Double check with your email provider to see what their hard bounce and soft bounce removal policies are. Automating this part of your email list management will let you move on to bigger, better things.

Try to re-engage inactive subscribers

What should you do with the subscribers who are receiving your emails, but aren’t opening or reading them?

It’s time to re-engage them with a special email sequence.

This re-engagement sequence will give the subscriber a chance to either unsubscribe, stay on the list, or let you know what kind of content they’re looking for — which will allow you to further segment your list and better serve your audience.

You could ask them to choose their primary reasons for wanting to hear from you, like promotions, special events, or restaurant news. Then, you can make sure they only get those relevant emails from you.

It’s always a good idea to send a re-engagement series, rather than just relying on one email to do the job. You could send:

  1. An opportunity for the reader to let you know what categories of emails they’d like to receive
  2. A small deal or coupon to remind them of value of your email list
  3. One final chance to stick around

If they don’t engage with any of those emails, it’s time to say sayonara. But give them some time before you remove them. A full ¾ of subscribers will open a re-engagement email within three months of receiving it. So you may want to give it some time before you decide to remove these non-responders from the list.

This may sound like a lot to keep up with, but remember that one of the benefits of email marketing is automation. Once you’ve set up your re-engagement sequence, you can cue your email provider to start it automatically when a subscriber hasn’t engaged within a set number of weeks or months.

How long to wait is entirely up to you, and could depend on your email frequency. If you’re emailing multiple times per week, a month may be enough time to consider your subscriber un-engaged. If you’re only emailing once per week, wait at least 90 days before you try for re-engagement.

Email List Management for Restaurants and Hospitality

And that, my friends...

…is the end of my email marketing series. That doesn’t mean this is all there is to know about email marketing — not by a long shot.

But it’s a solid foundation and should be enough to get the average independent restaurant or hospitality business started. If you still have questions about email marketing, let me know! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it.

And sign up for my own email list, Shift Meal! I’ll be sending out weekly tidbits to keep you up to date on marketing tips and industry news.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.