10 Email List Hygiene Best Practices

We have 32 teeth and to keep them in tip-top condition, we invest quite a bit in the hygiene of our teeth: brushing, flossing, mouth washing, and semi-annual dentist visits.

Whether your email lists number 32, 28, or more, you would be wise to invest in these email list hygiene best practices.

Why is email list hygiene important?

In a word: deliverability. With a clean list of active subscribers who are engaged with your messages, your sender reputation improves, your emails get inboxed, and your open and click-thru rates improve.

If you notice a bounce rate of 3-5% or more, it is time to invest in some list hygiene lest you set off a spam alert.

Some stats to consider:

  • The average email list deprecates 25% each year
  • More than 20% of email registrations contain typos, syntax, domain, and other errors
  • 63% of email marketers have a goal of “growing and retaining subscribers”

Part One: Proper Registrations

The first part of list hygiene is properly collecting subscriber information in the first place. The best practices:

  1. Do not buy lists – subscribers must have opted-in to receive correspondence from you.
  2. Do not share lists – even if another company allows you to use their lists, unless the subscribers truly want to hear from you, this will backfire.
  3. Adhere to CAN-SPAM – ask for permission to send users email messages, always be clear and give them an option to opt out or unsubscribe (because there are opportunities in unsubscribes).
  4. When a new user subscribes, send a welcome email and if it bounces, automatically remove the user from your list.

Part Two: Regular Brushing & Flossing

If you have adhered by these best practices to collect email registrations, there are still best practices of ongoing maintenance to keep your subscriber list clean.

  1. Send a periodic email asking subscribers to confirm their interests and preferences to ensure the messages they receive from you are relevant and timely.
  2. Use advanced segmentation to ensure you send the right message to the right person at the right time.
  3. Scrub your lists of all of these users:
    • Duplicated email addresses
    • Invalid addresses that have had a hard or soft bounce
    • Anyone who did not clearly opt in
    • Users who are not active and engaged (after sending a reengagement campaign)
    • Unsubscribes
  4. Use different providers to send to different segments. For example, transactional messages or those sent to your most engaged subscribers can be sent from a low-cost provider; but re-engagement campaigns or to those who are on the brink of being scrubbed for lack of activity, use a premium service with the highest deliverability rate for the given segment.

Part Three: Semi-annual Cleanings

Properly collecting emails and performing ongoing maintenance best practices will keep your email list sparkling clean. Still, a couple of times per year, best practice is to do some deep cleaning.

  1. Run a permissions pass and delete every subscriber who is not 100% clean, opted-in, and engaged
  2. Get professional help from tools like EmailOversight, Xverify and Webbula that can confirm your list is clean (and clean it if it is not)

Email List Hygiene Explained

Email list hygiene is incredibly important because it plays an enormous role in email deliverability. A clean list will ensure more of your messages get inboxed, and when more get inboxed, more get opened. And when more get opened, more get clicked. And when more get clicked, more get converted.

While hygiene is never anybody’s favorite chore (how many Tweets have you read about the joys of going to the dentist?), the result is more profit for you. Now THAT is something to Tweet about!

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