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3 Expert Tips for Effective Email List Cleaning

Sep 25, 2017   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

email list cleaningIf you’ve ever cleaned out a closet, you know the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes with organizing and decluttering a space. Often, you discover items you forgot you had, eliminate junk you no longer need and have a much easier time finding a clean shirt on an otherwise frantic Monday morning. It just feels good.

And if you’ve ever completed a thorough email list cleaning, you know it offers a similar feeling of accomplishment.

Suddenly, campaigns are easier to assemble and yield better results, hard bounces decrease and your sender reputation is more likely to improve. Plus, without inactive addresses cluttering up your contact lists, your campaign results more accurately reflect your efforts.

Overall, email list cleaning is one of the best things you can do for your organization’s email marketing program. But how do you make sure your efforts are most effective?

After several years helping clients clean their lists, we’ve learned a few things about email list hygiene – and we’re happy to pass that knowledge along to help hard-working marketers like you.

Here are the top three tips to help keep your lists squeaky clean.

  1. 1. Remember not all inactive subscribers are truly inactive.

    Despite your best efforts to engage every contact on your list, there will always be a number of addresses that simply don’t engage.

    In the past, email gurus have advocated deleting these inactive subscribers. The thinking is, if someone hasn’t interacted in several months, their email address is likely no longer in use. Or, if it is, it’s owner is uninterested and likely won’t open any of your messages again. The problem with this school of thought is it eliminates any opportunity for winning back potential customers.

    While it may be tempting to delete inactives, it’s important to remember that sometimes addresses that seem dormant are still active – just not with you. But don’t take it personally. Instead, round up these addresses into a separate list and attempt a win-back, reengagement campaign. If you still don’t get any engagement from them, then it may be time to add them to your suppression list.

  2. 2. Beware of spam traps.

  3. While it’s important not to delete every inactive subscriber, some of these addresses could be potential spam traps. That is, formerly active addresses that have been dormant so long they’ve been scooped up by an anti-spam or security organization to catch businesses sending emails to addresses that never opted in.

    How can you tell the difference? The best bet is to work with an email data service that can decipher between email addresses that are active elsewhere and those that have been long dead. If an address is truly inactive, you should make sure to remove it immediately to reduce your chance of inadvertently emailing a spam trap.

    And when it doubt, it’s better to just delete.

    “It’s better to deploy campaigns to 20,000 active and engaged people than it is to blast the email to 30,000 people if half of them don’t care, delete it, or worse – report it as spam,” says Pamela Vaughn, principal marketing manager on HubSpot’s web strategy team.

  4. 3. Correcting syntax errors can save lost leads.

  5. Oh, the dreaded fat finger – a classic data entry mistake. All it takes is one tiny error while a customer or cashier is entering in an email address (i.e. “@gmial” instead of “@gmail”), and your communications are silenced forever. Or, are they?

    A great email list cleaning service usually offers syntax correction, which helps fix invalid addresses and makes sure your email communications are making their way through to the right subscriber.

    The moral of the story is, bad data is like kryptonite to your email campaigns. By regularly cleaning your lists, you can eliminate any addresses that could hurt your sender reputation while saving disengaged addresses from former customers who could be won back.

    Want to verify the addresses on your list and make sure your lists are fresh and clean? Get a free email validation report now!

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