Email Marketing Tactics #20: Clean Up the Email List

Nothing lasts forever.  That’s as true for email subscribers as anything else.  An email opt-in is not a lifetime commitment.  Opt-outs should be a foregone conclusion as subscribers should have a simple way of removing themselves from communications.  However, many email marketers are reluctant to scrub their email lists of inaccurate or bouncing emails.  Maintaining your email list will help keep costs down and improve delivery.

Most Internet Service Providers take bounce rates into account as a SPAM signifier.  Therefore, quality email service providers will have an interest in clean lists.  However, don’t rely on a reprimand from your email service to prompt you into cleaning the list.  Make it a routine.

Depending on your email service’s billing practice it can save money.  Removing emails that bounce means less overall sends which reduces costs for per email billing.  Removing bad email addresses has the potential to drop under subscribers thresholds and drop rates to a lower tier for per subscriber billing.

A monthly or quarterly review of bounce rates is a good idea.  The larger the list the more frequent the review should be.  Bounce rates will grow over time.  It is not a sign of a poor performing email campaign as these recipients aren’t even receiving the message.  It’s a signifier of the transience of email addresses.  Plan on 20% of your email list going bad every year.  That is the rate that the average person changes email addresses.

Cleaning up an email list is an often overlooked necessity.  Many email marketers resist cleaning the list because they like seeing a lot of email addresses in heir subscriber list. They see it as a sign of success. Be honest with yourself.  Anyone can create thousands of fake email addresses and point to it as a sign of a thriving campaign.  The point is to communicate a valuable message to an interested audience, not gather email addresses.  Remove the bad email addresses so that you get an accurate sense of how the campaign is performing and a realistic view of who is paying attention.

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