Email List Cleaning: Why Bother?

Spam complaints, Undeliverables, and Unsubscribes

Taking the time and effort necessary to keep your email list clean can seem like a waste.  After all, if people aren’t interested in your emails they can just ignore them, right?  Alas, there is a lot more to it than that, as a few bad apples that spammed their email messages to consumers unrelentingly have made both email platforms and consumers more sensitive than ever to unwanted emails.

As a result, sending emails to uninterested consumers can cause your emails to be marked as spam, hurting your sender reputation and potentially causing your email platform to penalize you or even ban you from sending emails.  Some things to keep in mind when it comes to making valid email addresses the main component of your list by keeping it clean of bad addresses are as follows.

Spam complaints, Undeliverables, and Unsubscribes

Email platforms will typically devise their threshold ratios for determining sender reputation around formulas relating to spam complaints, undelivered emails (typically caused by bad or nonexistent addresses), and unsubscribes.  If your score in these metrics breaches the threshold, you may be fined or have your ability to send emails blocked.  As a result, keeping your lists as clean as possible makes good business sense, both from the perspective of ROI and of avoiding the penalties that can come with a bad sender reputation.

Cleaning Up Your List

While your email platform will generally provide you with reports allowing you to monitor your bounceback rates and identify bad domains and undeliverable addresses, its up to you to scrub these bad addresses from your list.  You can also use software programs that allow you to check email address by domain to make sure they are valid, as well as helping to identify duplicate addresses on your list.

Lead Acquisition Policies

Be cautious when purchasing email lists, as these may be full of bad addresses that will reflect poorly on your sender reputation.  If at all possible, try to generate leads through methods you control, such as contests, visits to your website, or the like.  If you do purchase lists, you should check them for bad domains prior to using them to reduce the potential for bouncebacks.

Monitor Inactives

Inactive leads can turn into bad addresses or result in spam complaints if not attended to.  To deal with leads that have not responded to your emails for set amount of time, say, 6 months or a year, you may want to attempt to re-engage these leads with a targeted campaign, perhaps by asking that they verify email address to remain on your list.  If you don’t hear back from them you can remove them from the list.