Maintaining a clean email list is at the forefront of any successful email marketing campaign. You shouldn’t expect much from an email list of disinterested or unengaged contacts. But even more important is the accuracy of the list. Sending newsletters or promotions to an email list with outdated, low quality or harmful addresses is worse than sending no email at all. Even a list with a few of these addresses on it is headed in the wrong direction but can be mended. This is where email list cleaning is crucial.

What is email list cleaning?

Email list cleaning, sometimes called email verification or validation, is the identification and removal of harmful or invalid email addresses. Even if your list is great and has high engagement, you still need to clean it regularly. Email addresses that are good won’t always stay that way.

The pandemic has made email list cleaning even more crucial

2020 has been an atypical and challenging year for the entire world, and for email marketers, it’s presenting some unique challenges. With millions of furloughed or out of work, there are countless email addresses that have been deactivated or haven’t been checked in months.

According to Christopher Penn, a Chief Data Scientist at Trustinsights.ai, email lists decayed 25% in the first few weeks of the pandemic. That’s a rapid decline in data quality. As more and more email addresses are going invalid, it will get worse.

All of these inactive and former email addresses have dramatic consequences on email marketing programs.

Here are just a few:

  • Senders are facing massive bounce rates due to so many B2B email addresses becoming invalid.
  • High bounce rates tarnish the reputation of the senders. If your overall bounce rate is higher than 2%, your inbox placement is at risk.
  • Because they’re not reaching their subscribers, businesses are seeing a decreased ROI from their email campaigns.

Why should you clean your email list regularly?

There are 5 reasons why you should clean your email list. Maintaining your list’s health helps boost engagement and keeps your list from decaying.

Prevent a high bounce rate

When an Internet Service Provider (ISP) bounces or returns an email, this negatively affects your deliverability. ISPs look at your sender reputation to determine whether you follow email marketing best practices or not.

Even if you aren’t sending spam emails, a high bounce rate can mean you are perceived that way. This is why keeping your bounce rate low – ideally, under 2% – should be a priority.

Cleaning your email list minimizes bounces by identifying invalid and fake addresses. You should remove them without regret.

Reduce spam complaints

Certain people have a habit of marking emails as spam. They sign up to be on a particular email list and because they forget or have malicious intent, they carelessly mark you as a spammer. Even if they wanted to opt-in your email campaigns, you don’t want these people to get on your list.

The solution here is to identify them before they mark you. A good email validation service can root them out. Furthermore, by using a real-time email validation API, you can keep them from signing up in the first place.

Remove unengaged subscribers

Yet another problem for many email marketers is spam traps. ISPs and blacklist providers frequently set up spam traps using email addresses formerly used by a real person. They no longer are checked by a real person, but when someone sends an email to these addresses, they identify them as spam. Then they block these addresses under the logic that only a spammer would be sending emails to such an address.

Not all email verifiers can detect spam traps and the truth is, not all spam traps can be detected, due to their very nature.

Get rid of duplicate contacts

For different reasons, especially due to incorrect data migration, you end up with duplicate email addresses on your list. Not only will you pay more to send an email to the same person twice, but this may also get you marked as spam.

Email validation is great for getting rid of these duplicate contacts as there is no real benefit to keeping them.

Remove role-based emails

Role-based emails are those addresses like info@, admin@, or mail@. They are typically checked by a team of people rather than a single person you could connect with. It’s best to remove role-based emails because they have little value to you as a marketer.

Also, with so many people checking this inbox you never know who will mark you as spam. Cleaning your email list will help you identify any role-based emails and remove them.

How to clean your email list

There are two common methods to verify your email list: in bulk and in real-time. For most people with an email list, using both makes the most sense.

Bulk email list cleaning

If you have never cleaned your email list, this is where you should start. You upload the list onto the platform of a reputable email validation company and it will identify all of these problematic contacts so you can remove them. Ideally, you would do this every quarter or, at least, before every important campaign.

Real-time email list cleaning

A key to having a healthy list is to not allow bad email addresses to sign up in the first place. Do you have a newsletter signup form or a registration page where people can create an account on your platform? A real-time email verification API is a great idea. All you need to do is set up an email validation API that will detect faulty and suspicious emails and prevent them from subscribing to your list.

How to choose an email list cleaner

It’s important to keep in mind a few key features when choosing your email list cleaner service:

  • Accuracy
  • Pricing
  • Cleaning speed
  • GDPR compliance
  • Integrations

A good email validation company should also be accessible with support available around the clock.

It’s also great if there are added features, like the ability to add missing data to your list. 

Another important question is whether the email list cleaner can easily integrate with the other services and programs you use. When it integrates with your email service provider (ESP), cleaning your list is much easier. All you have to do is import it from your ESP to your email validator, clean it, then export it back into your ESP.

Conclusion

With the amount of effort that you are putting into creating compelling emails, you may overlook email hygiene. This is like only worrying about the shine of your car while the engine is in dire need of repairs. The best way to maximize the efficiency of your list and get the highest possible ROI is to commit to scrubbing it at regular intervals.