Ask the Experts 6/3: Email Marketing Lists and Conversion Optimization
Q: I’m taking over email marketing tasks from someone else, and I’m not sure about the origin of our email list. What should I do?
A: If you’re asking this question, then you probably already know the risks of using paid email lists and being blacklisted from your ISP as a spammer. Keeping your email lists compliant and updated is an important part of customer relations as well as maintaining a healthy email marketing strategy. If you suspect you’ve inherited an email list that was built by less-than-savory methods, here are a few steps you can take:
- Double-check that your email marketing plan includes opt-in methods for the consumer, and that you’ve made the process as smooth and painless as possible for users. You already know you need permission to email to people, and this is how you’ll get it.
- All is not lost—if you suspect some of the list may be good, segment email addresses by age and review key metrics for each. Database decay happens across the board, no matter where your list of contacts came from; if there are contacts you’ve had for a long time (years) and they’ve never interacted with an email, they can probably be removed from the list, lessening your risk of spam complaints.
- Go through your lists (by segment, to make this more manageable) and remove any group, role, or otherwise generic email addresses.
Q: Can A/B testing hurt my SEO?
A: This is a good question, since A/B testing requires creating multiple URLs and pages that have very similar content. Of course, Google loves to see websites with great UX, so it seems to follow that your conversion optimization efforts shouldn’t have any kind of negative effects on your site’s visibility in search. Ideally, SEO and CRO should work together—one brings more traffic to your web properties, and the other converts them once they’ve arrived. The traffic you earn through all of your SEO work isn’t worth much unless you’re getting conversions out of it.
That said, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when you’re testing. Remember to set up canonical tags if you’re working with multiple versions of the same URL, and set up any necessary 301 redirects when you’re done. And when it’s time to review your goals and conversions, do so alongside heatmap analyses, user survey results, and usability test results to make sure you’re seeing the complete picture.