3 Ways to Stay on Top of Email List Hygiene

One of the key factors affecting email deliverability (whether you end up in your subscribers’ inboxes or in spam) is list hygiene. Though it’s not the most fun topic to discuss, if you’re working hard to grow your email marketing list, pruning your list of individuals that are no longer reading your emails is just as important as keeping the rest of your list engaged.

By sending campaigns to unengaged subscribers, you hurt your deliverability to subscribers who actually want to receive your email. This trickles into all key metrics: worse inbox placement means lower opens, even lower clicks, and of course, a lower conversion rate. By sending less email overall focused on your engaged subscribers, your campaigns will be far more impactful (and your costs will be reduced)!

What does it mean to have good email list hygiene?

A clean email list consists of valid email addresses that have recently engaged with your email campaigns. Depending on the cadence and type of marketing you do, what ‘recently’ means could vary anywhere from five days to a few months.

If you haven’t cleaned your list in a while and are sending to recipients that don’t engage with your email marketing, ISPs do take note. They’re constantly reassessing your subscribers’ engagement and won’t be afraid to sort emails into the spam folder if a subscriber hasn’t engaged in a while.

Keeping your email list clean

Now that we’re on the same page in terms of wanting to keep a list of engaged subscribers, let’s go over three key ways to uphold good hygiene!

1. Double opt-in

This one’s simple - to make sure your subscribers are explicitly aware that they’ve been added to your email list, send them an opt-in email after they sign up. If they click the link, they’ll be added to your list. If they don’t, they won’t.

Don’t be afraid of double opt-in! One of the benefits of this email is getting subscribers to engage right off the bat - that initial click to confirm the subscription is a great sign to ISPs that the recipient wants to receive future emails from you.


2. Winback campaigns

When subscribers stop engaging with your regular email marketing, you have the opportunity to re-engage them with a winback campaign. By specifically asking if they want to keep receiving emails from you, you’ll not only clear out subscribers who don’t want to be on your list anymore, but also winback anyone who decides they do want to stay on your list - it’s a win-winback 😉

The point at which you send a re-engagement campaign depends on your email marketing:

  • If you send emails daily, automate a winback campaign after five days of no engagement
  • If you send emails weekly, automate a winback campaign after one month of no engagement
  • If you send emails monthly, automate a winback campaign after four months of no engagement


This post includes some tactical and template inspiration: 8 Re-Engagement Email Campaigns to Start the New Year Right.

3. Use an ESP that tracks engagement segments for you

Juggling an email marketing strategy while keeping track of which subscribers are engaged vs. who’s falling off may seem like a lot. Luckily, many ESPs do most of the work for you! They’ll mark invalid, bounced or outdated emails when you import your data, let you keep track of key segments, and give you the tools to automate winback campaigns.

With Hive, your subscribers are sorted into engagement segments automatically:


You can choose to only send to active subscribers, and then set up automations to re-engage subscribers when they fall into your at-risk or inactive segments.

You can also keep track of list growth overtime, benchmarking and setting goals to improve the engagement of your list:


With a little bit of strategy on your end and the help of an ESP that values deliverability and list cleanliness, you’re well on your way to sustaining a clean email list full of happy, engaged subscribers!