Adult Email Marketing Best Practices
It’s a rather simple thing to make unintended mistakes when running email campaigns. Then there’s also those ‘mistakes’ you make on purpose thinking you might get away with them. Since email marketing is so important to adult affiliate marketing in general, it’s important that you avoid both the accidental and intentional mistakes. You can do that by following some adult email marketing best practices.
We get it: some of this advice you’re not going to like
We have a lot of experience working with companies on their email marketing practices, and unfortunately there are a number of best practices that tend to result in angry responses.
First remember we’re just the messenger here.
Second, whether you like it or not, ISPs like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have you by the balls. They service the vast majority of email boxes that you want to reach. If you don’t follow the practices they want you to follow, they’re going to cut you out. There are a lot of fine arguments available which state that these companies go way too far, but these arguments won’t help you reach those inboxes. Following the established best practices for adult email marketing, however, will.
Rule # 1: Don’t use a bought list
If the email list(s) you plan to use do not consist solely of people who gave you permission to email them, and who want to receive your emails, then don’t send. Bought lists are a disaster for your sender reputation, and using them will make it harder and harder to get results with any of your email campaigns.
For all your email campaigns, use only email lists that you built up over time through legitimate efforts.
Rule #2: Don’t keep emailing to bounced email addresses
There are two types of ‘bounces’ that your emails might generate, each indicating a delivery error.
Hard bounces. These bounces are telling you that there is a permanent error in trying to reach the recipient. This could mean the email address no longer exists (common) or it could be a hardware failure on the recipient’s side. If an email address generates a hard bounce, immediately remove it from your email list (if you’re using YNOT Mail, the software will do this for you). If you want you can move it to a “hard bounces” list for one final attempt later on, but we recommend you wait at least a month or two.
Soft bounces. These bounces indicate a temporary error in reaching the intended recipient. This could happen because a mailbox is full, the recipient’s ISP is temporarily unavailable, or an ISP is restricting your emails because you’re sending too many based on your sender reputation, to name a few possibilities. Because these soft bounces are temporary you can try re-sending to these addresses at a later time, like the next day or it a week or two.
However it’s important to remove these email addresses too from your lists if they bounce three times in a row. Repeated soft bounces to the same email address can damage your sender reputation. As with hard bounces, you might move soft-bounced email addresses to another list, then try again after a month. Any previously soft-bounced emails that do not generate a new bounce in subsequent tests can be safely re-added to your main lists.
Rule #3: Purge inactive email addresses from your lists
This is going to be one of those things you don’t want to hear. But if you’ve been sending emails to someone for a long time, and that someone has neither opened your emails nor clicked on a link, you’ll want to purge them from your list.
ISPs consider your sender reputation when deciding whether to deliver your emails, spam box them, defer them, or just punch up delete. Part of what goes into determining your sender reputation is how “engaged” your recipients are with your emails. The more people you’re sending to who neither open nor click links in your emails, the lower your reputation will go because your engagement percentages will be poor.
When you remove them from your list however, and keep sending to the recipients who are opening and clicking things, the engagement ratio of your campaigns will go up. Which means more inboxes. Which means more sales.
Those guys who weren’t clicking anything or reading anything weren’t helping you anyway.
Rule #4: Double opt-in your new subscribers
Double opt-in means someone has to confirm by email that they really want to receive your emails before you add them to your list(s). In most cases, you’re going to want to use this approach.
Why does this matter? Well let’s suppose you put a form on your website inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter. Then suppose that you get 10 new sign-ups on the first day. How do you know that the people at the end of those email addresses really signed up, and that it’s not just someone pulling a prank?
Confirming intent is especially important with adult email lists, since it’s very possible someone signs up their friend, their school teacher, a local politician or whoever as a practical joke.
There are some cases where double opt-in is less important. If you run a store, for example, and include a checkbox at check out which lets customers subscribe to your email lists, you may have enough confidence in the data and the business relationship to bypass double opt-in.
Rule #5: Don’t send too much too quickly
If an ISP sees a sudden large spike in your send volume, or else sees a large send from a new domain name or IP address without a good reputation, they’ll likely defer or use choose not to deliver a large amount of your emails.
If you’re following best practices then you can ramp up your sends slowly, which gives the ISPs time to develop confidence in what you’re sending. Start with no more than a few thousand emails in a day. After a week of daily sends at that volume, if all is going well, double the amount of emails you send. Keep doing this until you reach your desired volume.
Rule #6: Don’t sent to old email lists you generated years ago
This is a common mistake in the adult industry. Maybe you have an adult paysite that you ran back in 2007 and you still have the email list of your past members? These are email addresses that you collected legitimately, so you probably feel like you’re well within your rights to send them some new offers.
There’s a few problems with this scenario.
First, companies that run spam traps often take old email addresses no longer in use and re-purpose them into what’s called a recycled spam trap. From their perspective since that email address hasn’t been legitimately used in a long time, anyone sending an email to that address is not doing so legitimately. We agree that there are flaws in this logic, but nonetheless this is how these spam trap operators run things. If you’re using an old list that you haven’t sent to in years, there’s a good chance that some of the emails are now spam traps.
Second, if you ran a site called mysite.com back in 2007, but you send an email to people advertising mynewsite.com today, there’s a better than even chance that email will not be welcome by the recipient. They probably won’t remember giving you their email address in the first place and will assume you’re just a spammer, so a click on the ‘report spam’ button in their email client is likely.
Rule #7: Include an unsubscribe link
Make sure you have a link at the bottom of all your emails allowing recipients to unsubscribe from your lists. And also important, absolutely honor any and all unsubscribe requests. Never continue to email people who have indicated they don’t want your emails.
Rule #8: Send emails people like to receive
We know it’s a lot easier to just send a simple email with little thought or effort put into it, but this kind of thing is a bad idea.
When you send boring or useless emails, a lot of your subscribers will become ex-subscribers. Your open and click-through rates will be abysmal, which in turn won’t help your sender reputation.
With a little creativity you can come up with ways to make your emails fun to receive.
The YNOT Adult Affiliate Marketing Guide is a free resource designed to help webmasters, internet marketers and web developers earn recurring and sustainable revenue from promoting adult industry goods and services.