by Anna Wybieralska Feb 11, 2018

It can be hard to say to goodbye to a contact, but creating a sunset policy to remove unengaged contacts can keep your list healthy and your delivery optimal.

What is a Sunset Policy?

A sunset policy states that after a recipient hasn’t engaged (no opens, clicks, etc.) within a certain amount of time, you will remove them from your sending list. The specific amount of time you set can range from a few weeks to a few months–it ultimately depends on your industry and email program. By doing so, you’ll get rid of spam traps, improve deliverability, and list integrity which you’ll need to be successful in email marketing. This is a great and powerful way to address any specific email delivery problems.

When and how to Sunset a contact?

If you see addresses on your email list that never engage, it may be time to try to bring them back on board with a re-engagement campaign or initiate your sunset policy.

Are you ready to get rid of your state contacts?

As much as we want to keep stale contacts because it seems like they may click or open your mail someday, those unengaged contacts are probably harming your delivery more than providing opportunity. Find out more here. Professional email marketers are more likely to keep their engagement levels high and list clean by regularly using a sunset policy.

Here are some basic suggestions for sunset policy schedules:

a) Define, depending on your sending schedule what an unengaged recipient is for your email program.

b) Determine how many emails you may continue to send to a recipient that isn’t opening your emails.

c) Decide on the program of re-engagement attempts to win back the recipient’s attention.

d) Monitor results and then make a final decision to remove the stale contact from your lists permanently.

When it comes to a sunset policy, trial and error is your best friend. Experiment with your definition of unengaged, and document the differences between contacts who haven’t engaged in say three weeks versus six months.

Common misconceptions about email marketing

Most beginner email marketers tend to believe that bulk sending to more addresses will result in higher open and click rates and that this number is all that matters. This is not the case, the relationship between volume, opens and clicks, complaints, unsubscribes and domain reputation are all related in a way that affects your delivery and sending success.  

Blacklists and Spam Traps

As a final tip to help motivate you to create and actually use a sunset policy, it’s important to be reminded that as you add to your contact list over time and you enhance your email program, you are more prone to sending emails that could become problematic.

In this instance we are referring to addresses that become spam traps - you can find out everything you need to know here.

Basically, you don’t want to send to inactive addresses that aren’t opening your mail as they can get your domain listed on blacklists.

The following are the best practices to avoid being listed:

1. Using confirmed double opt-in,

2. Implementing a sunset policy to remove unengaged subscribers,

3. Using real-time address validation— this is something automated with Elastic Email. If somebody enters the false email into your web form and you send an email to that invalid email address, this will be registered in your account.

In conclusion, you have learned what is best for your program by keeping a keen eye on engagement. If you notice a dip in open and click rates or an increase in unsubscribes, it’s a good sign that you should back off a little and look at your stale contacts. It is vital that you ensure that you are sending wanted mail and you guarantee this by proper removal of unengaged recipients from your lists by using a sunset policy. Elastic Email provides reports that can be used to lead you to better delivery and will help you keep your list integrity at an all-time high.

Anna Wybieralska

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