Data hygiene best practices

Why, when, and how to clean your email list

What’s that smell? It might be an email list that needs a cleaning! That’s a little bit of marketing humor for those of us who are ready to tear our hair out over email deliverability. It does stink when your emails are blocked or not delivered to the inbox. Especially when it’s due to something that’s as easy to fix as bad data or poor reputation.

Just like everything in marketing, an email list is fluid and about 20% of your list spoils every year! No matter the size of your business, bad data affects everyone.

This blog will help you understand why, when, and how to keep your list clean for superb deliverability results.

Why do you need to keep your data clean?

Are your bounce rates elevated? It is time to look at bounce reasons to determine if your list needs cleansing. The most frequent hard bounce is an invalid email or invalid domain. Keep an eye on soft bounces too, especially mailboxes full or inactive, as they tend to be converted to spam traps which in turn will cause deliverability problems. Spam traps can be nasty. They do not sign up for your email program, they do not normally interact with emails, and certainly do not buy. What they do is lead to reputation harm, therefore removing them is crucial, especially before sending large campaigns, re-engagement emails, or every 3-6 months.

Sender reputation and consequently deliverability, are directly impacted by how clean your email list is. Major ISPs will take note of soft and hard bounces your list is experiencing, potentially lowering reputation and placing emails in the spam folder. If your emails are not delivered to the inbox, they are not being seen by subscribers.

Chances are, you are paying for each email you send or the number of subscribers you have, or both. Why pay for those emails which are not beneficial to your business? Improve your ROI with email hygiene.

When should you clean your list?

Have you noticed lower open/click rates? Are you planning on mailing to unfamiliar email list? There are multiple warning signs indicating your email list needs to be cleaned. To reduce the risk, running that list through hygiene and removing potentially harmful emails is advised. In addition to hygiene, an Activity Append is beneficial when an inherited/acquired list is used. This feature offered by verification services will match and append activity (email or website) over the past 30, 60, and 90 days. Sending to those who were active recently with other emails, will increase your chances of higher activity within your campaign.

Despite engagement metrics being less reliable nowadays, they can display the first signs of concern with the email list. If you notice lower open/click rates, it is time to reevaluate your email list and sending practices as engagement metrics are affected by whether your emails are delivered to the inbox or not.

How can you start to improve deliverability?

Start by utilizing soft and hard bounce rules within your ESP to weed out inactive and invalid emails. If possible, set up double opt-in at POS. Keep your subscribers engaged with re-engagement emails or re-opt-in emails, and offer them an incentive to connect. Provide your endusers with opt-down options, and clear and easy unsubscribe links in all emails. Segment your audience and deliver personalized content for best engagement results.

Our deliverability experts will be happy to offer more details around email hygiene best practices and verification services we provide to many of our clients already!

What is stopping you from cleaning up your act? You cannot avoid email list deterioration, but you can prevent deliverability problems by consistently purging your lists. Email marketing programs produce results when emails land in the inbox, so be aware of what your database consists of. Make sure spoiled data does not hold you back!

Check out our extensive library of resources or get in touch with one of our Inboxable experts. Our team consists of experienced and dedicated deliverability analysts. We remain focused on keeping our finger on the pulse, digesting the latest and most important information and relaying it directly to our clients.

Anna Tchirova
Anna Tchirova
Senior Deliverability Analyst

Anna Tchirova is a Senior Deliverability Analyst at Data Axle. She is passionate about deliverability and maintaining client-facing support for Inboxable technology and service offerings. An industry professional for over 16 years, her expertise allows her to provide clients with effective campaign strategies and efficient issue resolution in email deliverability. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as listening to podcasts and reading.