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Email List Cleaning: Top 5 Tips and Practices

Updating your email list is an important part of tracking the success of your email marketing campaign. Here’s what email cleaning is, and how to do it.

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Email list cleaning is the process of removing invalid or inactive email addresses from a mailing list. The goal is to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of email marketing campaigns by:

  • Reducing the number of undeliverable emails 
  • Increasing the engagement rate of the emails that do get successfully delivered

Why is Email List Cleaning Necessary?

Cleaning up your email list has many benefits. It allows email marketers to accurately measure their KPIs and avoid damaging their sender reputation. The more accurate the data from the campaign is, the more effective the email marketing specialist becomes at creating effective campaigns.

Here are practices you should use when cleaning your email list:

Identify and Remove Inactive Email Addresses

Regularly remove inactive subscribers from your email list yourself. This can help you improve your email deliverability rates and prevent your emails from being marked as spam.

The frequency of this action depends on the company or the email marketing team behind the campaign. You don’t want to do it too often, in case you accidentally remove active emails that simply aren’t used as much as others. However, you don’t want to wait too long, because the existing inactive emails do hurt your metrics. 

Typically, you should manually remove inactive emails from the list once a month or every quarter.

Use Email Verification Tools to Remove Inactive Subscribers

You don’t need to manually remove all your inactive subscribers. There are plenty of tools that can analyze which email addresses have been inactive within a certain timeframe and verify their status. These tools make your email list cleaning go much faster. 

Here are some of the email validation tools you can use to help you identify which emails have become invalid:

  • MailboxValidator
  • Zero Bounce
  • EmailListVerify
  • Hunter
  • BriteVerify

Again, these tools should not be used too frequently, in case the invalid email is only temporarily down.

Update Subscriber Preference and Segment Your Email List

Make sure to regularly update your subscribers’ preferences and segment your email list based on those preferences. This will ensure that the emails they receive are relevant and valuable to them. Doing this will help you send the campaigns to subscribers who are more likely to engage with them, instead of marking them as spam and appearing as invalid addresses.

You can run a report on these preferences and segment your subscribers to run different campaigns on them. This helps you provide value to the right people, instead of running one campaign that may only work on a portion of your list.

Monitor Bounced Emails

Keeping an eye on bounced emails can help you identify potential issues with your email list. There are two types of bounced emails: 

  • Soft bounces
  • Hard bounces

Soft bounces are emails that don’t land in the subscriber’s inbox, because they are temporarily down or because they are sent to the spam folder instead. Hard bounces occur when the email is unreachable, usually because it has been deleted. Monitoring your bounced emails makes it easier to know who to cut out of the list.

Use Re-Engagement Campaigns

Re-engagement campaigns are emails sent out to customers who haven’t engaged with your emails in a while. These emails try to incentivize the customer to re-engage with the brand and service by offering information on new features and updates to the platform.

These re-engagement email campaigns help you gauge subscriber interest in the product or services. They also help you determine who and when you should cut from the list. For example, if you send the re-engagement email, and emails that have been invalid for 4 months don’t even open it, those are the ones you want to cut out.

However, the ones that do engage with the email offer you a choice. It becomes a matter of whether you want to keep them around until you can convince them to engage more, or cut them from the list as well.

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