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The real nightmare on Elm Street: Horror stories from your email list

Halloween: A time of tricks, treats and non-stop horror flicks playing on television. I don’t consider myself a scary movie aficionado by any means, but I've watched enough of these films to learn certain facts: don’t ever investigate scary noises alone, kids who see ghosts should be taken seriously and there is never cell phone service during paranormal events.

As a marketer, this got me thinking: horror movies are ripe with certain clichés storylines, just like certain scary themes that seem to recur for marketers. I’m talking about the unexpected, fear-inducing issues that can pop up and derail email marketing efforts, monsters living in your email list that quickly drive your engagement rates and other metrics into the ground.

Having nightmares yet? Check out my list of the most common scary stories we see related to email marketing.

It’s a trap! In this case, I’m not talking about the trap a villain in a horror flick might set for a protagonist, but spam traps. These are email addresses activated by internet service providers for the sole purpose of catching illegitimate email. The scariest part—you never really know if an old, abandoned email address has become a trap. You can avoid these traps by using opt-in permissions for your email campaigns, keeping only engaged subscribers in your database and not purchasing lists.

Zombies attack. These are the walking dead, the unliving, the dreaded inactive subscribers. These are those people who receive your emails but do nothing—open, click or even unsubscribe—that tells you they are still engaged.  So what do you do with these names that are negatively impacting your metrics? You can cut them from your list or you can try to engage them with reactivation campaigns.

Entering an alternate universe. When you try and send an email that is returned as undeliverable, you have entered the Bermuda Triangle or Twilight Zone of email deliverability, the bounce back. Sending to email addresses that don’t exist can destroy your sender reputation and dramatically impact your average inbox placement rate. Anytime a hard bounce occurs because an email address does not exist, it should be removed from your database.

What other scary things are you finding in your email database this Halloween? Tell us in the comments.