Cleaning Up an Email List

Hopefully, you are building a list of contacts that have given you permission to email them on a regular basis.  This can be done via a newsletter opt-in, free report opt-in, or simply a client list.

As time goes on, your list will get larger, and many contacts with email addresses you have collected years ago may stop interacting with you. As your list grows, you may be charged more to maintain that size of list. And, as people stop opening your emails, it can affect the deliverability of ALL of you email.

These are the reasons why you should periodically clean your email list.

How to Clean an Email List

The first step in cleaning up an email list is to remove or correct any contact records that have email addresses that hard-bounced or were returned. Hard bounces will never be delivered correctly.  Sometimes, you can see an obvious spelling error and correct the record so that the email can go through next time. In other cases, it’s best to simply delete the record with the hard-bounced email address.

Your list can also experience soft bounces, It’s OK to keep these on the list.  A soft bounce means the email was unable to be delivered temporarily but that the email does exist.  This can happen when a server is down for a few minutes but comes back up.

After cleaning up hard bounces, the next thing to look at is open rate.  If a contact has not opened your emails in a long time, it might be best to delete them so you don’t continue to pay for them. The length of time of inactivity varies based on the age and size of your list as well as the cost to maintain it. Some people say to remove contacts who haven’t opened any email in six months, but I usually like to go longer, such as one year.  The larger the list, the more frequently it should be cleaned.

Your email software may do some of this list maintenance for you.  Get to know what it does so that you’ll know what you need to put into place to keep your list fresh.

Once you’ve pruned your list, it’s time to build it back up.  You can do that in a variety of ways, through lead magnets, landing pages, special offers, surveys, quizzes, ads, and many other lead generation techniques.  You’ll find that when your list is newer, your open rate and deliverability will go up, and that’s a good thing for your business.