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5 Tips for Maintaining Email List Hygiene – Number 5 Might Surprise You

Email List Hygiene isn’t the most glamorous aspect of email marketing. While subject lines, hero images, and CTAs get all the attention, Email List Hygiene is part of the behind-the-scenes work that enables the more visible components of an email to succeed. Here are 5 tips for maintaining good Email List Hygiene. Spoiler alert: Number 5 might surprise you.

What is email list hygiene?

Email list hygiene refers to the practice of regularly monitoring and cleaning your email list. It involves practices such as removing email addresses that consistently bounce back messages, monitoring spam complaints, segmenting your list based on subscriber interests, and identifying subscribers who have not engaged in a while. Maintaining a clean and healthy email list helps to ensure that your messages are reaching the right people and not ending up in spam folders.

Why is email list hygiene so important?

There are several reasons why maintaining good email list hygiene is important, including:

Improved deliverability: By regularly cleaning up your email list, you can improve your email deliverability rates, ensuring that your messages are reaching your intended audience.

Higher engagement rates: When your email list is clean, your engagement rates are likely to be higher. This is because your messages are being sent to people who are actually interested in your content and are more likely to open and engage with your emails.

Lower bounce rates: A high bounce rate can negatively impact your sender reputation and result in your messages being marked as spam. By regularly cleaning up your email list, you can reduce your bounce rates and maintain a positive sender reputation.

5 Tips for maintaining good email list hygiene:

1. Use marketing automation: Marketing automation is a good way to scrub your email list and purge invalid, disengaged, or outdated email addresses. Just set rules to automatically segment or remove subscribers who haven’t engaged for a set time limit or whose addresses have bounced twice or more.

2. Monitor email bounces: Pay attention to email bounces and remove any email addresses that consistently bounce back your messages. This could indicate that the email address is invalid or that the recipient is no longer using it.

3. Monitor spam complaints: Keep an eye on spam complaints and remove any subscribers who have marked your messages as spam. This will help maintain a positive sender reputation and improve your email deliverability rates.

4. Segment your email list: Email list segmentation allows you to send targeted messages to specific groups of subscribers. This can help improve engagement rates and reduce the likelihood of subscribers marking your messages as spam.

5. Identify inactive subscribers: Check for subscribers who have not engaged with your emails in the past six months or more.  

What about number 5?

Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Don’t you mean ‘delete’ instead of ‘identify’ inactive subscribers?

Yes, it is true that many email marketing best practices guidelines recommend that you delete subscribers who have not opened an email in a long time in order to preserve your reputation. But you shouldn’t assume that everyone who hasn’t opened an email in a while wants to be removed from your list. If you consider the low cost of continuing to send email to inactive subscribers, the “nudge effect” the presence of your email in their inbox can have on other channels such as phone or store visits, and the potential revenue from reactivating them, automatically deleting inactive subscribers could be a costly mistake.

How to identify when to remove dead email addresses

We recommend a simple strategy to help decide if, and when, to remove an email address from the list, while maintaining your reputation.

Send a reactivation campaign: Try to re-engage anyone who hasn’t opened an email for more than 6, or even 12 months.

Separate your lists: Anyone who still hasn’t opened an email after the reactivation campaign should be placed on a separate list to your active recipients.

Send the same email to each list and focus on activity: The active list will now show a truer representation of engagement and your results will not be brought down by the dead email list. After every mailing (or month), move anyone who becomes active again to your active list and anyone on the active list that now qualifies as inactive, to the inactive list.

If possible, use a separate IP address for each list. That way you will minimize the impact of the “dead” addresses on your reputation.

Analyze the results over time before deleting anyone: This process will enable you to identify how much revenue emailing the inactive addresses is generating and how much it is costing you. Within 6 to 12 months you’ll have a much better sense of how long you should continue to email an unresponsive email address before removing it from the list. Learn more about bringing “dead” subscribers back to life.

Maintaining good email list hygiene is an essential part of your email marketing strategy. By regularly cleaning up your email list, you can improve your email deliverability rates, increase engagement rates, and maintain a positive sender reputation. Use the tips and examples above as a guide to keep your email list clean and healthy.