5 Reasons Why Email List Hygiene Is a Serious Marketing Priority

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Photo by  Michael GäblerThe email ecosystem is constantly updating, changing the way we strategize email marketing initiatives. Tactics that worked three to five years ago don’t necessarily work today.  Today, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) look at many different variables when determining whether to deliver one of our marketing emails to one of their customers.

Every ISP does its utmost to protect its customers from spam and unwanted email. In parallel, one of the highest priorities for all marketers is to ensure that our marketing emails are not mistaken for spam.

This makes it critically important to continuously monitor and update the hygiene of your lists.  Establishing and maintaining good email hygiene practices is absolutely imperative to the long-term success of your marketing campaigns as well as overall deliverability.

One way to keep your hygiene up to par within the ever-changing email ecosystem is to regularly clean your lists. List cleaning has become a standard practice today for marketers and is a reflection of how our industry has evolved over the last decade.

5 Reasons Why Email List Hygiene Is a Serious Marketing Priority

  1. Enhance your deliverability: While list hygiene doesn’t guarantee 100 percent deliverability of your emails, it can make a huge improvement. Email list cleaning helps you identify bad records you should eliminate from your list prior to sending.
  2. Avoid negative effects on your sending efforts: Failure to manage your email lists makes you vulnerable to spam traps, invalid email addresses, leads that sign up with non-deliverable domains or simple typos, and more. Email list cleaning helps you avoid all of these potential pitfalls.
  3. Speed up delivery: A bad list can slow your delivery rate to the end recipient, as receivers can throttle your mail or completely block you.
  4. Enhance your online reputation: If you start a campaign with a list of old, stale, duplicate, or unverified email addresses, you could produce high spam complaints, reach invalid emails, and/or hit spam traps. Each of these hurts your reputation and negates your efforts. On the other hand, sending emails to a clean list of genuinely interested prospects enhances your brand and boosts your return.
  5. Increased ROI: There’s no chance of a sale if you send emails to bad addresses. Your campaign could even backfire if you send to invalid email addresses or spam traps. Increase ROI by performing data hygiene first.

What Does Email List Cleaning Entail?

Keeping a clean and healthy email marketing list is a staple of any email marketing program and requires you to proactively manage the following:

  • Subscriber information: Anyone who has signed up for an email campaign is a “subscriber.” Their contact information is incredibly valuable to your business because it could result in a converted lead or sale. However, this information is useless, even detrimental, if it’s not accurate. The trick is to have the right, correct subscriber information at your fingertips so you have better success during the lifecycle of engagement with the recipient.
  • Bounce data: It’s a waste to send to emails that simply bounce right back. Stay on top of bounce data and remove bad emails from your list.
  • Unsubscribes: If a prospect unsubscribes from an email campaign and you continue to send emails anyway, you put your reputation at risk. Responding to opt-out requests immediately is an essential part of cleaning your email lists (and a legal requirement under CAN-SPAM). Many email service providers (ESPs) do this for your accounts automatically.Watch out for the people who unsubscribe by sending you an email instead of clicking the opt-out link. It is a best practice to monitor accounts for people who do this.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Email Lists Clean

scrujb brushData hygiene should be an ongoing task for your business. Try these tips to keep your lists squeaky clean:

  • Be strategic about the leads you acquire: Check each lead and assess its fit for your business before you add it to a list. Then, make sure the lead is added to the correct list and entered correctly for best results.  There are real-time validation companies that can verify the emails at time of addition.
  • Allow recipients to opt-in to your emails: Obtaining prospects’ permission first ensures your list is filled with recipients who are eager to receive your content.  This is becoming a necessity in optimal deliverability.
  • Use data checkers: You can avoid getting bad email addresses by using data checkers at the point of data collection. That way, only properly formatted email addresses are accepted into your contact database.
  • Clean out spam email addresses: Any email address that hasn’t seen any engagement – opens and or clicks – in the last 180 days should probably be removed from your list or targeted for a reengagement campaign. Blacklist operators create spam traps with email addresses that have gone dormant. While this helps catch spammers, it can also result in you becoming blacklisted if you continue to bombard such an inbox with messages. Monitor your email lists and recipient engagement to avoid this.
  • Use an online tool: List cleaning and validation is a tedious task. With the help of an email list cleaning service, you can quickly tune up your lists.

Want to learn how to avoid the ominous and ever-infamous blacklist, get smart about spam traps, and learn how to protect your email performance? Register for the free webinar:

Spam Traps: Avoid the Blacklist and Protect Your Digital Reputation

Join David Fowler, Chief Privacy Officer at Act-On Software, and Craig Swerdloff, Co-Founder & CEO of LeadSpend, to discuss the different types of traps, how to avoid them, and what to do if you get blacklisted.

register for the webinar

“Clean laundry” photo by Michael Gäbler, Wikimedia

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  • Thomas Craft

    Interesting, we have always struggled with email hygiene due to an ever changing list of subscribers and added product lines. These are some good basic steps to follow that give a clear path to better performance from these emails.

  • Jay McBain

    This was a good refresher on data cleansing – would love to hear what tools others are using and finding success with.

  • bri44any

    As a bonus to following these tips, you’ll have better stats on email performance. :)

  • http://www.callbox.com.sg/ Dara Lin

    Agree, proper managing and cleaning emails prevents disorganize of data and will trigger for accuracy. Being active on email participation may look professional for the inquiring prospect.

  • Lisa L

    Bounced emails are my biggest pet peeve. When possible, I review the email addresses in the bounce list one by one and check for any obvious errors. As much as I hate to lose subscribers, I delete the ones that bounce, but look accurate; no sense in hurting our send reputation.

    • bri44any

      On the plus side, it’s great to catch a typo in an email address that you can keep rather than just having a bad email address.

  • Tim

    Sophia, definitely your point about “Watch out for the people who unsubscribe by sending you an email instead of clicking the opt-out link” is one to stay on top of. ESPECIALLY, if email is sent on behalf of someone NOT on the marketing team. It’s critical to make sure sales/management or anyone else outside marketing that “sends” emails forwards those manual unsubscribe emails to marketing promptly and marketing is diligent to add them into the unsubscribes list/.