Advanced Email Suppression List Strategies

Guest Author

When many email marketers think about lists to use for suppression purposes, it often starts and stops with users who have opted out of receiving future messages (i.e. your unsubscribe list). Clearly, if a user has opted out, you want to remove them from future mailings within the legally appropriate time period – 10 business days after receipt of the opt-out request, according to the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. While this is an absolutely vital step to complying with CAN-SPAM, it is far from the only list that marketers may want to suppress from various email campaigns.

Advertisers with extensive experience in email marketing will often leverage multiple suppression lists as an aspect of their overall audience targeting strategies. In these instances suppression files become negative targets that should not be mailed. Why would a brand want to exclude a recipient from an email campaign, other than due to a prior opt-out request? Here are just a few suppression strategies that different companies employ to enhance the performance of their email programs – both those managed in-house and those undertaken by third-parties (such as affiliates) on their behalf.

1 – Suppressing Current Customers

As consumers, we are all familiar with receiving marketing messaging touting special introductory offers, extreme discounts, or other deals especially for to new customers. Companies have used aggressive promotional offers as a way of attracting new customers since the invention of marketing. But, another aspect of the aggressive customer acquisition offer is that it is typically not available to current or past customers. Plenty of people have had the experience of seeing an ad for a cable TV package that is far less expensive than their current subscription. Then, when they call the company to request the lower rate, they are told it is only for new customers. What’s the end result here? A marketing campaign has created an unhappy current customer, who just might go shopping for an alternative from a competitor. Many companies take steps to ensure that customers are not exposed to offers for which they don’t qualify. While you can’t be certain a current customer won’t ever see an acquisition offer, you can ensure they don’t receive an email about it from you or anyone mailing on your behalf. This is done by adding your current subscriber list as a suppression file for your acquisition email campaigns.

2 – Suppressing Various Customer Segments

Similar to suppressing all current customers, you may find that excluding only certain customer segments from acquisition email campaigns can be advantageous. Perhaps you have a range of products for sale on your website. Some are complementary and buying one product may make it likely a consumer will purchase another related product (the tried-and-true upsell/cross-sell model). In other cases, buying a particular product may actually make it unlikely or utterly improbable that a different product will be purchased by the same consumer. This second scenario presents a great opportunity for the use of suppression files for negative targeting. This is especially true if a company is using third-parties to mail on their behalf. In this case you can use a suppression list made up of customer addresses whose past purchasing behavior makes them highly unlikely to respond to a particular email campaign.

3 – Suppressing Recognized Recipients

Consider an example of a campaign where you may want to focus only on net new prospects who have never been a customer and never received an email offer from you in the past (this would not necessarily mean they never received an email from a third-party mailing on your behalf). In this case, you could leverage suppression files of all current customers, past customers, and all prior internally driven acquisition campaign recipients, to focus the new mailing entirely on unrecognized or net new recipients.

These are three simple ways to use suppression files to more effectively target audiences within email marketing campaigns. However, you are really only limited by the data at your disposal and your imagination on how to leverage it to drive performance.

Tom Wozniak – Executive Director of Marketing – OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC

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