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Email List Cleaning Tips

How often do you partake in email list cleaning? Is it only when open rates plummet or spam flagging increases? The reality is that, depending on how subscribers get on your list in the first place, you need to ensure you have valid, engaged users or your delivery rates will suffer.

Here are some data points you can review to gauge if you need to expedite an email list cleaning. 

  • Reduced open rate
  • Reduced click-through rate
  • More unsubscribes
  • More spam complaints

What are some easy steps you can take to improve the situation?

  • Remove duplicate email addresses
  • If you have opt-in forms, you can ReCaptcha your opt-in forms
  • Remove inactive subscribers that haven’t engaged for the last 6 months
  • Use an email address verification API or list cleaner to remove hard bounces

According to Constant Contact, 99% of people check their email EVERY DAY and the email open rate is ~18% on average. So email is still an incredible vehicle to deliver your message.


What advantages are there to email list cleaning? 

  1. By having your email list cleaner, you aren’t paying to send emails to people that are no longer interested in your content. You do this by removing subscribers that aren’t engaged and interacting with your content. Again, it’s a good rule to remove people from your list that haven’t opened an email in the last 6 months. Another easy way to capture sentiment is reviewing your unsubscribe rates, if they are increasing, consider segmenting your email list by topics so that recipients only get the emails they are interested in.
  2. A clean email list can help improve email deliverability significantly. Why? When your email list isn’t clean, you often get flagged for spam, or possibly even hard bounces where the email no longer exists. This can negatively impact your sender reputation and delivery rates.
  3. In a nutshell, email list cleaning gives you the best opportunity to land in the mailbox of your audience and engage them.

How often should I clean my email list?


This is really determined by how customers, and their emails are introduced and added to your email list. Bare minimum email list cleaning cadence is 1x yearly. That said, you can’t clean your email list once a year and expect everything to be optimal. Having an email list cleaning api in place at signup for your SaaS, or uploading a csv of emails and scrubbing them at upload whe users are  interested in your messages/newsletter/contests will really be an important part of your email list cleaner methodology. More or less, if the email never gets into your email list (because it was a fake email to gain access to a contest, a free trial or any other reason), this is a good thing.


In addition to what’s listed above, there are a couple of other great checks you can put into place to ensure a best case scenario with regards to email deliverability.


Use double opt-in for newsletter signups;

Send a welcome email to new subscribers to manage expectations and weed out potential unsubscribers as early as possible;

Write subject lines that don’t trigger spam filters

Use interactive content (polls, buttons) to encourage click-throughs, not just opens;

Try resending email campaigns to soft bounces (it means a temporary issue and you can still reach their inbox);

Provide a way for subscriber to manage their preferences;

Segment your newsletter list and send tailored content;

Prune inactive subscribers every 6 months.

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