• Michael Goff

5 easy steps to measure the health of your list

It’s strangely exciting for me to get access to someone’s email program for the first time. In order to propose new strategies, there’s so much to look at, so many aspects to consider.


But sometimes, it can be overwhelming…


There can be slews of automations, 2-3 daily broadcasts to different segments, dozens of lists (a personal pet peeve)…and then each ESP has its own quirks when it comes to reporting.


You might feel the same way when you work on your own email program. Oftentimes, we do our daily/weekly tasks, and we leave a lot untouched. Lifting up the hood on those “set it and forget it” items is daunting...so much so, it’s rarely done.


So today, I wanted to give you a quick checklist to get you started, because ultimately, your email program should not be on autopilot!


5 Point Checklist:


1. Pull an overview report for the last 7 days - what is your bounce rate?

  1. Bounces over 3-5% signal a significant reputation issue with your domain(s) and/or IP(s). Take a look at the bounces and see if they are associated to a particular mailbox provider (aka MBP, eg. Gmail, Yahoo/AOL).

2. Look at the reporting for a recent broadcast that went out more than 24 hours ago.

  1. What’s the unique open rate? If it’s below 20%:

  2. You may have filtering at a particular MBP. Click around in your ESP’s reporting and find an open rate breakdown by MBP. This will highlight where you might have a filtering issue.

  3. You may be sending to a segment that is too broad. Look at a few more broadcasts to see if the low open rate is a one-off. If it isn’t, test limiting your broadcast segment more tightly, eg. if you were sending to a full list, send to openers last 30 days. Or if you were already sending to openers last 30 days, send to openers last 20 days.

3. What does Google Postmaster say?

  1. If you don’t have Google Postmaster set up, check out my other blog post.

  2. This isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it can be very helpful in revealing whether your mailing program has a relatively good, or relatively bad reputation with the algorithms.

4. Export a report of all campaigns (broadcasts & automations) for the last 30 days, and sort by column in Excel for outliers.

  1. Are there a handful of campaigns that open much lower than others?

  2. Do certain campaigns generate higher unsubscribes/complaints? Note that day1 emails in a welcome series always will, but if you have a day10 email with a lot of churn, or a random broadcast, it’s worth pulling up the campaign and seeing if it can be edited.

5. Create a segment of subscribers who signed up in the last 30 days.

  1. Does this subscriber count make sense, or is there maybe a technical issue, ie. your subscribers aren’t making it into your ESP?

  2. Create a second segment to see how many of these 30 day subscribers have opened. If your program is customers only, you should aim for 50%+ activation. A leads program might be more in the 30% range. If you are seeing lower numbers, you may have an inboxing problem, or your welcome series needs to be optimized.

These five steps should take less than 30 minutes, so don’t put it off -- make time for it weekly! Checking in on your email program could generate a lengthy list of items to optimize, but over time, the program will become stronger and stronger, and need less and less attention. At that point, your check-ups are simply to verify that everything is still running smoothly, so you can confidently prioritize other aspects of your business.


A significant missing piece here is how to fix your mailing reputation & inboxing -- I’ll focus on that in future blog posts, so make sure you sign up here to hear more about that!


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