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The Dos and Don’t of Email List Scrubbing

Removing subscribers from your email list can benefit your sender reputation and improve overall metrics. Here’s how to do it responsibly for the best results.

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The Dos and Dont of Email List Scrubbing

Email list scrubbing, also known as email list cleaning, is the process of removing invalid or inactive email addresses from a mailing list. Scrubbing your email list is important, because sending emails to invalid or inactive email addresses can result in bounced emails. That, by itself, can negatively impact your sender reputation and result in future emails being marked as spam.

The process of email list scrubbing typically involves using mailing list software that can automatically verify email addresses. The software may check for things like syntax errors, domain validity, and whether the email address is currently active and accepting emails.

Why You Should Scrub Emails from Your List

Email scrubbing provides many benefits for your company and marketing strategies, including:

  • Improved deliverability: Email list scrubbing can improve the deliverability of email campaigns and create a more accurate representation of your campaign metrics.
  • Better engagement: Email list scrubbing can improve engagement with subscribers by ensuring that the emails are going to people who are interested in receiving them.
  • Cost savings: By removing invalid or inactive email addresses, businesses save money on email marketing campaigns, since they will not need to pay to send emails to addresses that are unlikely to convert.
  • Improved Sender Reputation: By regularly cleaning your email list, you are demonstrating good email list hygiene. This improves your sender reputation with email service providers, resulting in better inbox placement.
  • Reduced Bounce Rates: Scrubbing your email list helps reduce the number of undeliverable emails, which can result in a lower bounce rate.

How to Know It’s Time to Scrub Your Email List

Many businesses choose to scrub their email list periodically, typically every three to six months. However, you may also want to pay attention to certain signs that point to an unhygienic email list that needs to be scrubbed. Here are symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Invalid email addresses: Invalid email addresses are the easiest to identify and they should be removed immediately. This includes email addresses with syntax errors, such as missing or extra characters, as well as email addresses with invalid domains. Most mailing list software can identify these right away and will point them out to you, so you can delete them.
  • Bounce rate: A high bounce rate can indicate that there are a significant number of invalid email addresses on your list. Keep in mind that there are two types of email bounces: soft bounce and hard bounce. Soft bounce is caused by temporary problems from the recipient’s side, such as a full inbox or server issues. Meanwhile, hard bounces are caused by invalid email addresses. If an email address bounces multiple times, it is a sign that the email address is likely invalid or inactive and should be removed from the list.
  • Inactive subscribers: If a subscriber has not engaged with your emails in a long time, they may no longer be interested in receiving your emails or may have changed their email address. Consider removing subscribers who have not opened or clicked on any of your emails in several months.
  • Spam complaints: If subscribers mark your emails as spam, it can negatively impact your email deliverability and reputation, so remove them from your list.
  • Duplicate email addresses: Duplicate email addresses can alter your metrics and lead to unnecessary costs. Remove duplicate email addresses to ensure that your metrics are accurate and you are not paying to send emails to the same person multiple times.

When to Remove and When to Re-Engage

When it comes to inactive subscribers, you can always choose to re-engage with them first before scrubbing them from your list. This can be done with a re-engagement email, which is a targeted email sent to subscribers who have not engaged in months. These re-engagement emails are sent when you want to incentivize the subscriber to engage, either by offering them an exclusive deal or asking them to reach out to you to determine why they aren’t engaging.

Whether or not you scrub or re-engage is completely up to your business and how much you want to spend on a re-engagement campaign. If you decide to send a re-engagement email, you must also decide how much time to give the subscriber before they are removed. You don’t want to scrub them too quickly, in case re-engagement is only a matter of waiting for the subscriber to see the email, but you also don’t want to let an inactive user sit on your list for too long.

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