The Importance Of Email List Hygiene

A clean email list sets the foundation for your email marketing strategy. By having a handle on which of your subscribers are new, active and engaged, at risk, or completely inactive, you can set goals for email list growth and be smarter about what kinds of emails you’re sending.

In this post, we go through some of the key ways email list hygiene will impact your marketing strategy, along with tips on best practices.

What does it mean to keep your list clean?

Keeping your email list clean not only includes pruning bad or inactive email addresses, but also keeping tabs on which contacts have not engaged in a long time and are at risk of falling off. The more you ensure you’re sending to active contacts, the better your sending reputation and deliverability will be!

How does sending to a list with bad hygiene affect your sending reputation?

ISPs (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) use how subscribers engage with your email campaigns to determine inbox placement. Always segment your list and send relevant content? Straight to inbox. Frequently email subscribers who’ve never engaged? Straight to spam. Just take a look at the spam folder in your own mailbox - it’s likely filled with a mix of people trying to “send you money” and emails from legitimate brands that you never engage with.

The bottom line: by sending campaigns to unengaged subscribers, you can hurt deliverability to subscribers who actually want to receive your email. Emailing an inactive list trickles into all key metrics: worse inbox placement means lower opens, even lower clicks, and of course, a lower conversion rate.

So what should you do?

Here’s a list of best practices that will help you build a clean list from the start, and keep it that way!

1. Introduce Double Opt-in

To make sure your subscribers are completely aware that they’ve been added to your list, send them an opt-in email after sign up. If they click the opt-in link, they’ll be added to your list.

There’s no need to be afraid of getting subscribers to double opt-in - the benefits are worth it in the long run. Getting subscribers to engage right off the bat by initially clicking to confirm their subscription is a great sign to ISPs that the recipient wants to receive future emails from you.

Puma even further incentivizes subscribers to double opt-in by offering a coupon code.

2. Create a winback campaign

When subscribers stop engaging with your emails, you can try re-engaging them with a winback campaign. By specifically crafting an email that checks to see if people want to stay on your list, you’ll clear out inactive subscribers while winning back anyone who wants to stay.

You have lots of options when it comes to winback campaigns. This post runs through what you should be thinking about: Email Automation 101: How to Create an Engaging Winback Series.

Topshop created a clear winback email that gives their customers the option to unsubscribe. Bonus, they link to their socials for those who want to get updates, but not via email.

3. Say goodbye to inactive subscribers

Once you’ve set up a winback campaign, it’s time to prepare yourself to say goodbye to inactive subscribers - the ones you haven’t seen in awhile who weren’t re-engaged by your winback emails.

The best thing to do is to ease these subscribers out overtime. Try slowing down your sending cadence - if you send daily content, try sending it once a week. If that doesn’t work, try switching to once a month. Eventually, it will be time to send the final winback email - continuing to email these subscribers isn’t worth the hit in your sending reputation (or paying to send them email!).

Keep it clean

By thinking about list hygiene throughout all aspects of your email strategy, you’ll be able to keep a clean list while improving your sending reputation. Hopefully a few of these tips will come in handy as you continue to find the practices that work best for you!