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Cleaning Up Your Email List

Listen, I get it. You worked really hard to build your email list. The last thing you want to do is delete names from it. But cleaning up your email list actually makes your email campaigns more effective and helps you know if you’re hitting the mark with your subscribers. Let me explain.

Why Clean Your Email List?

We’ve talked before about measuring email marketing success. These measures — like open and bounce rates — are the most important reason to clean up your email list. 

We know that email marketing has a huge potential reach, with four billion people using email every day. Email is the most effective way to develop relationships with your customers and stay top-of-mind with prospects. But you can’t do that if they don’t get your messages. 

And you can’t truly measure the effectiveness or returns on your email marketing efforts if you have a messy email list full of bounces, unopened messages, and spam. If your bounce rates are up or your open and click-through rates are down, it’s probably time to clean your email list.

Cleaning Up Your Email List

Cleaning up your email list is essential for the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and the validity of your email marketing success measures. But how do you do it? Here’s what to look for to clean up your email list. And, FYI, you should do this at least once a year. Some experts recommend cleaning as frequently as every three months.

Remove Duplicates

Some people sign up for an email list, then forget they’ve done it. Or maybe they sign up to get a lead magnet, like a free e-book, then do it again. I know I’ve done this before. Either way, you don’t want to bug them with multiple emails. And they’re only going to engage with one. So, remove any duplicate email addresses.

Delete Spam Accounts

Most of us probably can identify a spammy-looking email account by now. Like the other day when Keanu Reeves followed me (or not) on Twitter. If you see emails that are obviously spam, go ahead and delete them.

By the way, watch for an excessive increase in subscribers. For most email subscriber lists, slow and steady growth is the expectation. If you get a ton of subscribers in a short time, that may indicate that spam accounts are flogging your account. If so, time to do some immediate clean-up.

Identify Inactive Subscribers

You can tell when subscribers engage with your posts. Identify the list of inactive or unengaged subscribers. Consider whether you want to remove them from your list or place them on a different list and use an email campaign to attempt to attract them to your content again. Once they become more active and engaged, you can move them back to your main list.

Review Bounces

Bounced emails mean the subscriber isn’t receiving your messages. Subscribers’ emails bounce for two reasons. 

First, a soft bounce means the address is still good, but there’s a temporary issue with receiving that message. For example, maybe their server was down, or their inbox was full. 

Second, a hard bounce means the email address is no longer good. If you see an error in the email address, revise it. We make a surprising number of mistakes, even just spelling “gmail” incorrectly, when we’re signing up for things quickly. Otherwise, delete any subscriber with a hard bounce.

Delete Unsubscribers

Some people will unsubscribe to your email. I know it hurts, but the truth is that people change and outgrow your messages over time. You’d rather someone unsubscribe to your email than mark it as spam. Mailbox subscribers log messages marked as spam, and they’ll begin to send your messages there after so many people do this. So, unsubscribing is OK. Delete or archive any accounts that unsubscribe. Then they won’t count in your analytics or for billing.

What to Expect From a Clean Email List

What can you expect after you clean up your email list? Well, you’ll temporarily have fewer subscribers than you did, and that’s OK because you’ll also get more accurate analytics. 

Cleaning your email list should result in:

  • Higher delivery rates
  • Better open and click-through rates
  • Fewer bounces
  • More accurate overall analytics

Cleaning up your email list allows you to really measure your email marketing efforts. So, while your overall subscriber number will decrease every time you clean your list, you never really had those people to begin with. They were harming your ability to tell how effective your email marketing efforts really are.

Need Email Marketing Help?

Email marketing is such an amazing growth tool for your business. Content Journey would love to help you manage your email marketing efforts. Want to talk more about how email marketing could benefit your business? Book a call with our lead guide, Lindsey Miller.

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