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Sick of us going on and on about the importance of a clean mailing list? If you are cleaning your mailing list on a regular basis, feel free to pat yourself on the back and close this tab. If not, read on to find out why it’s SO important, and how you’ll need to go about doing it. The more email marketers we have onboard, the less we need to keep talking about it. Really, it’s that simple!

Why is a clean mailing list so important?

Did you know, it’s normal for your mailing list to decrease by 20-30% each year? Don’t panic, we are all in the same boat! We know how much blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into building that list, it’s hard to see it reduce. But, if you really think about it, what’s the point of emailing an inactive subscriber? They are not going to open your email, let alone follow a call-to-action! They could even start doing the unthinkable, marking your email as spam as a way to unsubscribe 😱! Therefore, if you are asking yourself right now “when did I last clean my mailing list?” it was probably too long ago!

What happens when you send emails to a “dirty” list?

Apart from the possible spam complaints (mentioned above), a number of email IDs on your list are going to be invalid. This is going to increase the number of hard and soft-bounces per email campaign, inevitably, causing damage to your domain and IP reputation. In turn, that means your active subscribers will eventually start finding your emails in the spam folder! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, the thought sends shivers down our spines!

How to clean your mailing list

Before we get in to “how-to“, let’s talk briefly about “how often“.

According to Opt-In Monster, you should be cleaning your mailing list a couple of times per year. If you think that’s too often, or not often enough, a way to gauge how clean your list is, is by monitoring open rates, click-throughs, and bounce rates. If you see a downward pattern occurring after each campaign, it’s probably about time to give your mailing list a quick scrub-a-dub-dub.

If you are an SMTP2GO user, you can easily monitor real-time delivery stats within your SMTP2GO dashboard. There’s also a dedicated review team who’ll monitor bounce and spam rates. They’ll let you know if they’re looking a little too high.

Ways to clean your list

  1. Remove invalid and duplicate email addresses – Top tip! When removing invalid email addresses, look out for those obvious typos, such as ‘name@hotmai.com’. You may just be able to salvage a few!
  2. Find your inactive subscribers and send them a re-engagement email.

An example re-engagement email campaign to get a clean mailing list


3. Remove inactive recipients after your re-arrangement campaign, and of course, those who opted to unsubscribe. We know, it hurts. 😥

4. Manually remove auto-response email subscribers – Top tip! If your list is too big, don’t bother! But, if it’s a manageable list, sieve through your inbox to see which recipients replied to a campaign with an auto-canned response. There could be a few that confirm the address is no longer in use, such as an Out-Of-Office reply stating that a person no longer works for a particular company.

Ways to avoid a really “dirty” list in the first place

  1. Double opt-in.
  2. Make it easy to unsubscribe.
  3. Ask your recipients just how active they want to be when signing up! If you have a CRM in place, you can ask them how often they want to hear from you. Perhaps they don’t want to receive your weekly newsletter but DO want to be on your list for the monthly discount, for example.
  4. Make sure your signup form is detailed, and ask the recipient to confirm their email twice! This will avoid those annoying typos.
  5. Segment your campaigns. Top tip! Don’t annoy your subscribers by sending them information that doesn’t apply to them. Segment your list and you’ll see more engagement.

Tools to help clean your mailing list/ monitor reputation and deliverability

NeverBounce (10% discount for SMTP2GO users): This is a great tool that lets you check the validity of the email addresses on your mailing list. It’ll check for spam traps, invalid email addresses, and duplicates.

BriteVerify –  Similar service to NeverBouce.

Sender Score – For great deliverability, this great tool gives you an insight into how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) rate your emails. It will give you something to think about and help you focus in the right direction.

Hunter – This tool can help you clean your email list quickly and easily. Its Email Verifier feature makes multiple checks to ensure every email address on your list is safe to use. You can use it to verify a single email address or a list of email addresses. Its API allows you to verify email addresses with a simple API call.

Sentiment Widget Builder –  You can add a widget to your email which will request the recipient to evaluate your email and give it a rating. Some of the feedback given could be instrumental in improving future campaigns.

Overall, keep it clean guys!

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