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What is email list cleaning? Put simply, it’s getting rid of uninterested and unengaged email addresses from your list.

Keeping a clean list is one of the most important aspects of your email marketing efforts. It will allow you to reach inboxes that matter most. There’s no point emailing people who aren’t interested or, worse yet, aren’t expecting to hear from you.

So, once you’ve exported your contacts and built your list, it’s time to clean. Think of it like a spring clean, because you’ll use this process more than once to ensure your emails are hitting customers who will engage.

In this article, we’ll go over some general best practices, the benefits of email list cleaning and why it’s so important.

Benefits of Email List Cleaning

Better Opens & Click-Through Rates

Email marketing open and click-through rates (CTR) are critical for gauging the success of your campaign. So, if you’ve sent to cold lists where people aren’t interested (and therefore aren’t opening or clicking your links), your statistics will plummet.

Fewer Spam Complaints

When you receive an email from a business you don’t know, how do you feel? Kind of peeved, right? You might even be so aggravated, you click it just to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

When people aren’t expecting your emails, they’re more likely to mark you as spam.

That’s bad.

And every time it happens, email providers (like Gmail or Yahoo) log them as complaints. If too many complaints are lodged against you, your emails will skip the inbox entirely and go straight to spam folders (see how to avoid spam filters here).

By keeping your list clean, you’ll reduce the likelihood of emails being marked as spam. With less spam complaints comes a better sender reputation, which means more emails reach your subscribers.

More Accurate Reporting

It’s hard to tell how you’re performing when you’re sending to uninterested recipients. It’s like yelling into a barren wasteland: no one will hear you. Regular list cleaning means more engaged contacts, which makes it easy to track your results and get an idea of how to target future marketing campaigns.

When To Clean Your Email List

Let’s start looking at your campaign results. If you notice any of the following, you’ve got a problem:

  • A pattern of reduced open and click throughs
  • Increasing unsubscribes & spam complaints

These are major red flags that could mean you’re missing out on sales. But don’t panic, a bit of list spring cleaning should help get you back on track.

How To Know When Your Email List Has Gone Cold

Hubspot data suggests email databases degrade naturally by around 22.5% every year. That’s around ⅓ of people who will never open your emails, so it’s best to avoid emailing them in the first place.

But, how do you know when your email list has gone cold? It’s easy, think about whether they’ve interacted with your business in the past 12 months. If they haven’t interacted or been contacted, they won’t be expecting an email from you, so you can consider it a cold email.

Sending emails to people who aren’t expecting to hear from you runs the risk of your emails getting marked as spam. So, it’s best to simply remove these people.

A good general rule is remove any contacts who have ignored your email more than 3 times in a row.

List Cleaning: Who To Remove

So, now you know the benefits of list cleaning, why it’s so important and when to do it. But who should you actually remove?

  • Email addresses that bounce
  • Expired email addresses
  • Duplicate email addresses
  • Spam email addresses
  • People who have unsubscribed
  • Emails from bought email lists

For legal reasons, you should never email people who haven’t given you permission or subscribed to your email list. You also don’t want to include people who have unsubscribed or bounced as this can impact your sender reputation and potentially cause email providers to block your IP. In fact, hitting unknown accounts, such as expired email addresses, at a rate higher than 5% will cause your deliverability to dramatically decrease and send your emails to directly to spam folders.

Good List Checklist

So take a look at your email database: if you tick these boxes, congrats!

  • Everyone on your list has a prior relationship with your business
  • The people on your list are expecting your email
  • You have contacted these people in the last 12 months

You’re good to go! You have a clean list and you’re ready to send beautiful marketing emails with quality content to people who want to hear from you.

Now you can load your list to Machinemail and start sending beautiful branded emails in less than 90 seconds.

Let us know if you found this article helpful below.


Sources: Hubspot, optinmonster.com, keap.com

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