News and tips from the industry leaders in email compliance.

Suppression lists are essential components of any email marketing strategy. The need for such lists became vital when in 2003 the CAN-SPAM Act mandated all companies to allow recipients to opt-out of marketing emails. As a result, it’s necessary for companies to create and maintain a suppression list that includes these opted-out email addresses to ensure they are not included in future marketing email campaigns.

But how many companies are using suppression lists strategically? Aside from honoring opt-out requests, there are more ways you can gain value from your suppression files. We’ve laid out three additional ways that you can leverage your suppression lists outside of their use in compliance with CAN-SPAM.  

Suppressing Current Customers

We all know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of marketing campaigns touting special introductory offers, extreme discounts, or unique deals for new customers. This traditional approach by many companies aims to attract new business. However, there’s often a catch. Current customers are typically ineligible for these offers. So, having current customers receive these special offers can lead to unhappy customers and a notable increase in customer service complaints. 

To avoid this situation, one strategy involves implementing a suppression file containing a list of current customers, and using it to suppress these email addresses from acquisition email campaigns. Creating this suppression list has the following benefits: 

  • If you are using affiliates in your email program, it helps them focus on net new customers, ensuring you don’t pay affiliates for driving sales from existing customers.
  • Reduced customer service issues and potential loss of revenue by exposing current customers to aggressive acquisition offers.

Suppressing High-Frequency Non-responders

During the process of growing your email lists, it’s inevitable you will have a chunk of recipients who simply don’t interact with your emails – no opens, clicks, conversions, and so on. After a prolonged non-responsive period, attempting to contact these recipients can negatively impact your sender score, deliverability, and the likelihood of them engaging with future campaigns fades significantly.

Advertisers can compile a list of these nonresponsive email addresses, using them to create a suppression file for upcoming campaigns. Be it in-house or external campaigns by affiliates or third parties. Suppressing this segment potential benefits to your campaigns, such as:

  • Improving email campaign performance metrics like open rate, click rate, and conversion rate by focusing on engaged recipients.
  • Having a positive impact on overall deliverability and sender reputation with email platforms.

That being said, there are email marketers who stick to the mantra, “NEVER remove someone from your list until they officially unsubscribe.” And like many things in the email industry, it depends, and this may or may not be a fit for your business. So, this is a strategy to consider, if it aligns with your overall email and business strategy. 

Suppressing Past Recipients

When companies enlist the help of affiliates or other third parties to market on their behalf, the focus is typically on customer acquisition. As mentioned above, removing existing customers from these affiliate campaigns is essential to accurately target the intended audience (prospective customers).

It can also prove advantageous to the campaign strategy to ensure new email outreach is distributed to individuals who haven’t received previous email promotions, or targeted promotions you don’t want your entire audience to have access to.

This can lead to the creation of another suppression file. This one includes all email addresses that have received previous campaigns during a given period or addresses that received a particular promotion but have yet to encounter another, like a sequential campaign strategy. This strategy could be further fine-tuned to exclude recipients of a specific offer or as an example, any recipients from the past 12 months. The benefits of this suppression file could include:

  • Enabling a higher level of control over campaigns designed to reach net new prospects.
  • The ability to create offers designed specifically for a net-new prospect audience.

Final Thoughts – Negative Marketing Signals

Hopefully, these have given you some ideas on how a suppression list can have a variety of value props outside of their required use for compliance. Another great way to think outside the box on your email marketing campaigns is to spend time looking at so-called Negative Marketing Signals. These signals (opt-out requests, spam complaints, etc.) can tell you things about your audience that you won’t easily learn anywhere else, but are largely overlooked and often solely seen as a bad thing. You can learn more about Negative Marketing Signals and their uses in this previous blog post.

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