The Ultimate Guide To Email Hygiene: Keep Your List In Top Shape With These Top Tips

The Ultimate Guide To Email Hygiene: Keep Your List In Top Shape With These Top Tips

May 15, 2023
3 minutes

Mailing list hygiene should be done on a regular basis, just like regular hygiene. Growing your subscriber list is a key component of a strong email marketing program. It is important to complement these efforts with regular mailing list cleaning. 

You don't want to lose subscribers, but indifferent recipients can harm your email program. If many recipients mark it as spam or delete your email without opening it, your inbox can notify your provider that you're sending them unwanted content. This can affect deliverability. Therefore, email list hygiene is essential to a functioning email program. This post explains how to keep your mailing list clean. 

What is email list hygiene? 

"Email hygiene" or "mailing list hygiene" refers to a set of skills that every marketer should follow. Good email hygiene helps keep your email list clean, lean, and efficient, and it will increase email campaign performance by ensuring that all addresses on your list are valid and active while also using multi-method solutions for its verification. These are very good against threats such as spam traps, complainers, bounces, bots, etc. 

Email addresses can become an operational burden, and there are many reasons for it. For example, someone may have entered their address incorrectly on the registration form. Your email address may no longer be in use. And yes, sometimes people simply lose interest. Perhaps something has changed and your offer is no longer worth anything to them. These customers may be re-engaged, but these inactive leads will hurt your deliverability if re-engagement has fallen. Deliverability is probably the most important factor in marketing. Without deliverability, everything else is meaningless. Ignoring inactive email addresses greatly reduces delivery efficiency and hinders email marketing efforts. 

Simple email list cleaning tactics

Decide how often you want to do it

How often you clean up your mailing list depends on specific aspects of your program. It's generally a good idea to organize your list every six months. However, while large email programs (with more than 100,000 subscribers) may benefit from more cleaning, smaller email programs (with fewer than 1,000 subscribers) may not require that level of strictness. Regularly reviewing metrics will give you a clear picture of how healthy your list is overall and can help you decide how often to clean up your mailing list. However, you can review your frequency from time to time to see if you need to make some changes to your approach. 

Remove role accounts

A role account is an email address that represents a group or alias. Think @support, @info, etc. These kinds of emails do not represent individuals, so no one probably checks inboxes like these very often. If you have role accounts on your list, try to keep them as low as possible. Because these kinds of accounts are shared, different people viewing them will interact with their email in different ways. Let's say you have an employee who regularly checks their alias' inbox for emails, but they leave the company. The next person to take over this role may see your message as unworthy and mark it as spam.

Remove bounced and invalid emails

A bounce is an email that is not delivered due to an invalid email address. This could be a mistyped recipient when subscribing to a mailing list, or a company email address that doesn't exist.

You don't want to keep sending emails to invalid addresses, as it can negatively impact your metrics, especially your deliverability. Experts recommend keeping your bounce rate below 0.5%. Exceeding that could damage your reputation as a sender. Most ESPs, after two failed delivery attempts, automatically remove hard bounces. However, in some cases, it makes identifying invalid email addresses more difficult.

Unengaged recipients

Uninterested recipients are most likely to prick them to remove them. But don't take the low engagement personally. Think about the number of emails you signed up for but never got to open and read.

Providing an unsubscribe link in an email is required by law and by all reputable ESPs, but it often does not result in unsubscribing. If it's been months and your recipient hasn't opened your email, it's time to address the issue.

You can try some re-engagement campaigns. At best, the recipient will say they still want to hear it, but probably less often, or they may decide to opt out. After all, it will help your mailing list.

Re-engagement email campaign

Customers may not like the type of content you are sending, but that doesn't mean they don't want to hear from you at all. Before excluding less active subscribers, consider whether you can offer other types of content that are more engaging. An unengaged subscriber may be lured into an activity using a suitable comeback offer, such as a gift or discount, special benefits, or exclusive content. Your email subscribers may appreciate your content, but they're just suffering from email fatigue. This is especially common during the holidays, when your inbox fills faster than your stocking.

Now that you know how important it is to keep your mailing list organized, it's time to take action and get your mailing list squeaky clean for the coming year. Mailing list hygiene helps you execute your email marketing strategy without the list getting in the way.