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How to Fix Your Email Hygiene (and Sell More Work)

Published on April 26, 2018

Email marketing is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to grow your business:

  • It’s virtually free
  • Your software can personalize every message
  • Emails allow you to “clone your sales process” and sell work automatically

Yet, most service entrepreneurs make almost no money from emails. This is a huge part of the problem...

“Why aren’t my clients getting my emails?”

The answer:

Bad email hygiene.

Chances are, if you haven't cleaned up your email list in the last three months, you have a dirt email list.

Here, we’ll give you the 7 best practices to keep your email list clean. Use these to clean up your email lists, and start using email to scale your business.

What is "Bad Email Hygiene?"

You have bad email hygiene if clients…

  • Frequently ignore your emails
  • Don’t every click through your email links
  • If even a handful of people mark your emails as “Spam.”

The worse your email list hygiene, the more likely email platforms (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) will mark you as spam. When that happens enough times, you could get blacklisted - which means none of your emails will get through to your clients, and severely cripple your business.

Think of it this way…

Cleaning up your email list is as important as cleaning out a clogged drain. The more junk you put it into it, the more clogged it gets until finally the pipe bursts. It’s a nightmare to fix if you wait too long.

So run through this list, and we’ll show you how to clean up your list ASAP.

1. Wrong or Invalid Email Address

Every wrong (or outdated/invalid) email address can really mess up your email marketing results. After all, if you have the wrong email address… clients won’t get your emails.

What’s the Fix?

Make sure you have the correct email address when entering a new client/lead into your email or client management software.

Don’t have an address?

Did an old email address stop working?

Make it a part of your call process to ask for an updated email address. When a client calls to request service, verify that you have the correct email address on file.


2. What to Do When Emails “Hard Bounce”

A “hard bounce” means the email was rejected because the email address was invalid or non-existent. This is a permanent problem, and it won’t change no matter how long you keep emailing that address.

In Service Autopilot, you can see how many hard bounces you have in your email statistics (under CRM → Marketing → Email Activity).

What’s the Fix?

When an email hard bounces (especially if it hard bounces more than once), remove that address from your list.

Most email platforms like Service Autopilot will automatically remove an address that hard bounces from future email sends.

open emails

3. Are Clients Interacting with Your Emails?

Positive interactions will affect your email deliverability:

  • Email Opens
  • Email Moved Out of the Spam Folder
  • Email Click Through or Reply Rates

The more positive interactions your emails have, the more likely they are to be cleanly delivered to the inbox.

If a lead just marks your emails as read or continually deletes them without reading them…

...and it’s been months since they’ve even opened up one of your emails, then that lead has a very low interaction rate.

This is not the kind of person you want to keep sending emails to. Eventually, if there are enough people like this on your list - it will start to hurt your deliverability.

What’s the Fix?

Remove the non-engagers.

  1. Have they opened an email in the last six months?
  2. Have they otherwise clicked through an email in the last twelve months?

If the answer is “no,” send them one last email with a subject line:

“Hey, are you still interested in this?”

And if they still don’t open it or interact with your message, remove them from your main emailing list. You can always move them over to another mailing list in a different email software, as you don't want to mix your engagers with your non-engagers.

But chances are, if they haven’t interacted with you in a very long time, they’re not going to start interacting with your emails a year from now.

email opt-in

4. Are You Asking for Permission to Email?

Transactional emails (i.e. estimates, invoices, collection notices, dispatch reminders, etc.) don’t require a client’s explicit permission to email them.

However, according to the CAN-SPAM Act you do need permission to send sales/promotional-related emails (i.e. upsells, cross-sells, new services).

Basically, you will get marked as spam if you send emails without permission

How to Do This Right:

Send an opt-in email asking their permission to send them sales-related emails. Include an “unsubscribe link” in the email (preferably at the bottom, so they don’t accidentally unsubscribe).

Certain forms may link to a privacy policy that specifically states “by giving your email address here, you agree to let us send you promotional emails.” Facebook’s Lead Ads also allow for this.

Want to start getting leads and new clients from Facebook?

Check out our Guides to Facebook Ads:

Facebook Ads for Cleaning | Facebook Ads for Lawn Care

5. Why Do Emails Randomly “Not Show Up?”

In this scenario, you’ve confirmed that:

  • The email address is correct
  • The recipient did not unsubscribe

But some of your emails seem to “disappear” or never reach your client’s inbox at all.

What’s the Fix?

Ask them to whitelist your address.

You can send a mass email to your audience asking them to mark your sending address as a “safe” address. This safe sender list allows your recipient’s email provider to let that email pass into their inbox instead of blocking it or moving it to the junk folder.

Your best practice here is prevention. The first few times you email your clients, include a “P. S.” at the bottom where you ask them to whitelist you. You’d be surprised how well that works.

Customer Satisfaction with young woman holding a speech bubble

6. The Number One Reason People Stop Opening Your Emails

You ever get an email from a company about their “great new product?”

And then another email… and another…

How quickly do you unsubscribe from that?

What's the Fix?

Be subtle. “Hard sales” emails should be sprinkled in.

We email with about a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio. That means, for every one sales email, we try to give out five emails with valuable content for our clients.

Why Content is So Valuable (to You)

Giving out free content will not only show YOUR value to your clients, but also position you as the go-to expert in your industry.

What makes this really powerful is when you build out a couple of these email series, and automate them. That way you can sell (or upsell) work automatically.

Basically, you clone your ability to sell. Your emails will scale your business for you, while you keep working on the parts you’re truly passionate about.

Better Emails, Happier Clients, More Sales

Your email list is already familiar with your business.

They know you, and trust you with their email. That makes your email list one of your most valuable assets - and the easiest group to sell to.

Put these practices into action today, and you’ll...

They know who you are, what you do, and how well you do it. That makes your email list one of your most valuable assets - and the easiest group to sell to.

Happy (automatic) growing!

Related: 5 Secrets to Writing Killer Headlines (and Subject Lines) | Podcast

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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