Email addresses go stale really fast. When someone opts in to your list, you’ve probably got 6 months before the email address is bad, and maybe 3 months or so before their permission goes cold. Wait too long before emailing them, and you’ll not only get tons of bouncebacks—you’re going to get some really nasty spam complaints…
Hell hath no fury like a recipient that forgot she subscribed to your list. Do you think that after 6 months, someone will actually remember opting in to your list? Come on, after 6 months they’ll have received 17.3 googillian emails, 99% of which was spam.
It’s not that hard for recipients to report you, either. They just click a little “this is spam” button, and that sends an automatic email to their ISP. If enough of these pile up at the ISP, your emails will be blocked from then on. And you don’t want that ISP to be AOL, either (yikes).
So if you’ve been collecting emails for a few years, and are only just now getting around to emailing them, you need to re-invite them to your list. Send a quick email from your own email client or server asking people if they still want to be on your list. Ask them to click a link, such as your MailChimp signup form link, to confirm. If they don’t respond, take them off the list. They obviously don’t want to hear from you.
Here’s a great article with tips on this very topic.
It’s old, but not stale:
How to Freshen Up Stale Permission at Clickz.com
Update: Looks like this article is no longer online.
We love the idea of sending a survey asking for feedback. If you want to try it, we recommend SurveyMonkey.com (no relation to our monkey, but we love it nonetheless). Build your survey on SurveyMonkey, then send links to it via MailChimp. It’s like having a whole team of helper monkeys doing all your work for you.
Are you going to lose a few people in this process? Absolutely. Probably about 30%-50% of them. But think of it as spring cleaning. No sense in sending (and paying for) your email marketing to people who aren’t there, or who aren’t listening.