Email hygiene is the most important aspect of email marketing. A lot of factors like bounce rate, deliverability rate, etc responsible for the success of your email marketing campaigns depend on your email list hygiene.
According to Prospectify’s research, there are about 4.5 percent invalid email addresses among 1,000 random contacts after 28 days. Hence there is no doubt why keeping an up-to-date, clean, and quality email list is an absolute necessity.
What is Email List Hygiene?
Email list hygiene comprises removing inactive email subscribers from future email marketing campaigns and keeping your remaining list warm through good email sending practices. Regular email hygiene ensures that you are only messaging people who actually want to hear from you, which also helps you avoid having your email designated as spam.
With time the service providers and their regulations keep changing. The strategies that used to work before a few years ago might not be useful today. This requires you to change your email marketing strategies accordingly as well.
These days, internet service providers (ISPs) and email service providers (ESPs) have become smarter and more attuned to what recipients want to receive in their inboxes. The service providers look at different variables to decide if they want to deliver your marketing messages to your customers or not. Every ISP does its utmost to protect its customers from spam and unwanted email. Simultaneously, one of the top concerns for all marketers is to guarantee that their marketing emails are not mislabeled as spam. As a result, it is necessary to constantly review and maintain the hygiene of your listings.
Beyond tracking spam complaints, ESPs are diving deep into the emails you’re sending and the degree of engagement your emails are getting. Opens, clicks, unsubscribes, inactivity, and other metrics are factored into the algorithms that determine inbox placement. Once a receiver has agreed to receive your content, you must monitor and track their behavior over time. Even the most devoted subscribers can lose interest over time, making them more of a problem than an asset. This emphasizes the need to maintain good email list hygiene.
Developing and adhering to proper email hygiene practices is critical to the long-term effectiveness of your marketing initiatives as well as overall deliverability.
Before starting with why email hygiene is crucial, let’s talk about how to determine whether or not your email list is in good health and when you need to take care of it. Well, usually you get the first warning from your email statistics.
The health of your email campaigns can be easily determined by looking at their performance rate. A poor email performance certainly indicates a problem in your email list and campaign.
Declining open and click rates
The open and click rates of your emails should ideally increase or at least stay reasonably static at an acceptable level for your industry, but if those rates are declining, something is wrong, and it’s time to take action.
Unsubscribes acts as a self-cleaning mechanism for your mailing list, as unengaged individuals simply cease correspondence. However, the more users unsubscribe, the more your reputation suffers. The unsubscribing hampers the deliverability of your emails, leading to negative consequences from your ESPs.
Unsubscribe rates should be as low as possible. A rate of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent is OK, but anything above 0.5 percent requires attention.
The bounce rate compares the number of undelivered emails to the delivered emails. Facing bounces isn’t necessarily your fault; it could be due to a full mailbox, a mistyped address, a recently expired address, or a variety of other factors. But if you are facing a high bounce rate then you need to take the right steps in order to bring them down and stop them from causing major problems.
Increased number of spam complaints
Spam complaints may not always indicate that your recipients consider your content to be spam. Many people believe this is because it is easier to spam the message than it is to unsubscribe. In any case, a high spam complaint rate necessitates action, and those addresses must be removed.
Email deliverability is the percentage of emails that reach their designated address. If you have poor email deliverability, ESPs penalize you.
If your deliverability rate is less than 90%, you must take proper measures to ensure that it is not repeated in your future campaign.
Having any of the above issues means you have a problem with your email list or it can affect the quality and health of your email list and campaigns.
All of this sums up to a red flag which means you will have a hard time gaining leads, conversions, and sales.
Reasons why every business needs to maintain email list hygiene
Email cleaning or Email scrubbing can help you get rid of such problems and turn things around. The reasons are pretty simple:
Increased open and click rates
The open and click rates are measured as a proportion of total emails sent.
Cleaning up your email list implies that you are only sending emails to those that are interested. Even if the same people continue to open your emails, they will now constitute a larger proportion of the total number of emails sent. This raises your open and clicks rate percentages.
As your open and click rates improve, your statistics improve, and the metrics you need to ensure your highest conversion chances are maintained.
Fewer spam complaints
Cleaning your email list minimizes the number of spam complaints as well. Some subscribers report your emails as spam because they don’t recall signing up even when they did or simply if they don’t want to hear from you anymore.
Spam complaints are recorded by services such as Gmail, Yahoo, and others. If there are too many spam reports against you, they start sending your emails directly to the spam folder. They will do this for everyone you send emails to, not just those who reported you.
This significantly slashes down your chances of gaining conversions, leads, and sales from your email list.
Email cleaning reduces the number of subscribers who are irritated enough to mark your emails as spam. A lower number of spam complaints equates to a better sender reputation. This means that more of your emails will get in the inboxes of your subscribers.
Lower Bounce Rates
Emails can sometimes bounce, which means they never reach their intended receiver. As already said, this can be due to overflowing inboxes, changing or invalid email addresses, technological mistakes, etc. Usually, the bounces are not your fault, but it is necessary to keep your bounce rates as low as possible.
Too many bounces have the same impact as spam complaints: they tarnish your reputation, affecting email deliverability.
When you clean your email list by removing the bounced email addresses, you automatically reduce the number of bounces you will face the next time you send your emails. With a lower bounce rate, you will improve your sender reputation and also stop being a suspect account to the ESPs.
When you monitor your email list hygiene and scrub it proactively, there’s a fair probability of removing inactive subscribers before they unsubscribe to your emails themselves.
As a result, your unsubscribe rate will decrease as well, and you are saved from unwanted damage to your reputation and campaigns.
Even though list cleanliness does not guarantee 100 percent email deliverability, it can make a significant difference. Email list cleaning assists you in identifying faulty records that should be removed from your list prior to mailing.
This definitely boosts your deliverability rate and makes your email marketing campaigns a success.
A bad email list with inappropriate addresses can delay your mail delivery to the end recipient as they can restrict your mail or block you.
Reduced Costs and Increased ROI
Email services cost money. They often charge based on the number of emails you send, or the number of subscriptions, or both. Each unengaged subscriber who remains on your list costs you money. Hence cleaning your email list acts as financial aid.
Cost-cutting does not only save your money; it also results in a far higher ROI for the same amount of sales.
Besides, if you keep sending emails to the wrong or unengaged emails, it won’t help you make any sales either. Hence it is important to maintain your list hygiene first to improve your ROI.
Email list hygiene enhances your email performance rate, and the healthier your statistics are, the better it will be. It not only protects your deliverability, but if you follow best practices like keeping your messages relevant, engaging, and driven along with a clean list, you will be rewarded with increased engagement on your emails and an improved conversion rate.
Best Email List Hygiene Practices
Never buy lists
It’s never a good idea to buy an email list. Purchased email lists are infamous for having poor quality data, and because the addresses on the list aren’t your intended audience, you should expect a spike in spam complaints. Furthermore, email lists may conceal spam traps that can drop your deliverability rate from 98 to 25%, so resist the urge to buy lists.
Instead, go for creating your email lists from scratch by using a powerful email finder tool. Such lists ensure interaction with ideal prospects only.
Use double opt-in
Prevention is better than cure. It is always smarter to take proper measures from the time of building your list. Double opt-in is where you send a confirmation email to your new subscribers. They are subscribed only after they click on that confirmation email and confirm their subscription. By using the double-opt-in method, you get double surety from your subscribers and hence contribute to the creation of a solid and high-quality email list that performs significantly better than the single-opt-in method, cold lists, purchased lists, etc.
A double opt-in list provides higher engagement rates throughout the life cycle of customers, but the big benefit of using double opt-in is email list hygiene.
Find out the cause of spam, unsubscribes, and bounces
Before doing anything, you need to be sure about the reasons that are behind your deteriorating performance, especially when it comes to email bounces. Spams and unsubscribes can be caused due to irrelevance or when the receiver simply wants to stop hearing from you, whereas bounces can happen due to plenty of reasons.
There are two types of bounces- hard (this indicates that there is a persistent error and that your emails will never reach that recipient) and soft (which means there’s a temporary issue.) Your ESP will let you know the type of bounces you are facing, and you need to take care of them as per the requirement.
In case of spam, unsubscribes, and hard bounces, it is better to remove such addresses from your list at the earliest before they cause any serious damage to your email marketing campaigns, and for soft bounces, you should first try looking for any typos and correct them. If the soft bounces keep happening, then they can turn into hard bounces. Hence if they do not stop you need to remove those addresses as well.
Remove inactive subscribers
If a subscriber hasn’t engaged in an email campaign for more than 120 days (the magic number according to ESPs), then give them one more try with a re-engagement email campaign. You can send emails conveying that you miss them, what are the benefits of using your products or services, what are they missing out on while they are gone, or you can also try offering them attractive offers like free service/ product or a discount on their next purchase.
If they continue to refuse to respond, let them go.
Remove duplicate and disposable emails
If a subscriber ends up applying to your mailing list more than once, you can end up sending them the same message many times. This can annoy your subscribers. Hence, it is important to check your email list for duplicates and get rid of them.
Also, if a subscriber used a temporary or disposable address to take advantage of an offer or promotion, those addresses must be removed as well.
Use Email Verification Services
Most of the above-mentioned points cannot be possible without an email validation and verification tool. Email verification helps you to check your list for any invalid, mistyped, duplicate, disposable, spam, and bounced email addresses. One such tool is Clearout, which provides 98%+ accurate results, runs 20+ checks, and crafts a detailed report so that you can be confident with your further decisions on which addresses to remove and how to improve your campaign performance.
If you’re investing in a data cleansing tool, then you might as well opt for one that can easily integrate with other sales software like CRM, ERP, etc. Clearout.io provides seamless integration with CRMs, ERPs, Forms, and other tools that allows you to clean your database with ease and quickly.
After all, you can’t just clean your list and leave data in other databases outdated and dirty.
To wrap up:
Never take your email list for granted. The core of any effective email marketing program is a healthy, well-maintained email list. If you’re putting in the time and effort to run campaigns, you want to make sure you get results.
Unfortunately, the average email list depreciates with time, losing almost 25% of its value each year. As a result, cleansing your email list on a regular basis should be a top concern.
The interval in which you should validate and clean your email list depends largely on the size of your company, industry, and type of list. Even then, it is suggested to do it every 6 months at least and never longer than a year. If you want your email lists to be squeaky clean you can try cleaning yours every three months.
Keep the above pointers in mind and adopt the mentioned practices for your email list hygiene to get rewarding results from your email marketing campaigns.
About the Author
Aastha Shaw works in creating & developing content at Clearout and ClearoutPhone. These are Saas products used for email verification and phone validation respectively. She has been creating content for websites, blogs, and videos for marketing. You can reach out and connect with Aastha on LinkedIn.