Email List Hygiene Best Practices

Email list hygiene is an increasing concern for marketers and business owners. This is because a clean list means improved personalization, and better click and open rates. These translate to improved engagement and deliverability.

Every business owner should be concerned about deliverability rates. Questions such as ‘How can I improve it?’ or ‘Is it declining because of mistakes I’ve made?’ should be top of mind.

There are many ways to keep your email list clean. It’s all about gaining subscribers the right way, keeping them engaged, and deleting disengaged subscribers, because low engagement rates hurt deliverability.

So how do you keep your email list clean? How do you make sure your subscriber’s details are correct? How do you make sure your subscribers are engaged, such that they’re opening your emails and clicking your call to actions?

Here the best practices to help you maintain a healthy email list.

1. Remove Cold Subscribers

Engagement is one of the best metrics to help you know if your emails get to the recipient inboxes. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) view emails that are ignored as unwelcome. If a subscriber doesn’t open several messages in a row, their ISP will send future messages to the spam folder.

This hurts deliverability.

One strategy of purging your email list is to remove inactive subscribers. Identify subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the last three months or more. Send them an “Are we breaking up?” email. Include a link and inform them that if they don’t click it, they’ll stay unsubscribed. Hopefully, those who remain in your email list will engage with future messages. And if they don’t, remove them from your list with no regret.

2. Remove Email Addresses That Bounce

Invalid email addresses are a nuisance to you for two reasons. One, they prevent you from connecting with your subscribers. Two, they cause bounces, which left unresolved will hurt your deliverability.

Bounces occur in two forms: hard and soft. The former happens when emails don’t exist or they’re inactive. And the latter happens when there’s a delivery issue; for instance, if the inbox is full and it’s rejecting messages.

Most email marketing providers automatically delete email addresses that cause hard bounces. And most will remove email addresses that cause soft bounces after several attempts. But if your service provider doesn’t offer this feature, be proactive and delete such emails from your list anyway, because they affect your deliverability negatively.

3. Segment Your Email List by Subscriber Interest

Gone are the days when you’d get away with keeping a single list and sending the same email to everyone. Subscribers value content that resonates with their interests. Satisfy this need and your engagement rates will improve dramatically. This will improve your deliverability.

So how do you know what content your subscribers want? It’s simple – ask them when they sign up. Another alternative is to conduct a survey with your existing audience.

List segmentation is imperative in keeping your subscribers engaged and longing for your emails.

4. Delete Role Accounts from Your List

Only send emails to real people. This means you need to remove support@; info@; abuse@, etc. You need to get rid of these addresses for three reasons. One, emails mailed to these addresses are delivered to many people who have not opted into your list. Two, spammers collect these addresses and use them to bombard the recipients with commercial messages or to sell them to others who do. Three, role accounts generate a lot of complaints. This will affect your reputation. Avoid this headache by deleting them at the outset.

Using these four practices to keep your email list clean on a regular basis will ensure that you are keeping in touch with the right people on your list. Once you have your deliverability issues under control, you can focus on other metrics such as open rates and click through rates to understand if your messages are on point for your audience. All of these practices together will help improve sales overall.