Posted by Meghan Skiff

Earlier this week, Punxsutawney Phil disappointed us yet again. According to this year’s shadow, we are in for six more weeks of Winter. For those of us in snow-prone locations, this leaves us with three viable options:

Option 1: Book a trip to somewhere sunny and warm.


Image: ABC South Florida

Option 2: Treat yourself to a facial and/or other spa treatments (paraffin anyone? give those blog typing fingers some love!).


Option 3: Spring clean your email list.


Don’t worry, you don’t have to choose just one. However, I highly recommend that you set aside some time to work on getting your email database in order. After all, there is a constant churn happening within your database. As your contacts move on to new jobs, unsubscribe from content or are otherwise unavailable at the email address that you have on file, a significant portion of your email database becomes out of date. In fact, according to Hubspot, approximately 25% of your email list expires each year.

Why It is Important to Have a Clean Email List

You might be the neat and organized type, in which case, this is a no brainer. However, there are serious reasons why keeping a clean email list is very important. Unclean email lists:

  • Can damage your reputation as an email sender, therefore impacting deliverability.

  • Put you at risk for being blacklisted by ISPs, which of course you don’t want to happen.

  • Can cause your email campaign results to suffer.

How to Clean Up Your Email Act

Step #1: Identify sources of “dead weight” in your contact list.

In email marketing, we want to engage with people who are willing and able to receive our content. Identifying the sources of dead weight can come in three forms:

  1. People who are unable to receive emails because their email address changed.

  2. People who have indicated that they’d no longer receive emails from you by unsubscribing or marking your message as spam. While the latter may sound alarming, it is sometimes more convenient for a recipient to click the “mark as spam” button rather than click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, so this does happen.

  3. People who are receiving the email, but not opening it. In other words, “Delete! Delete!”

Now that you know what is going on in your email list, it’s time to take action.

Step #2: Remove or re-engage email contacts.

Instances A and B above represent the portion of your email list that is considered “ineligible.” It is best to delete these contacts. They are not receiving your emails, so there is no sense keeping them on the list.

Instance C is a different story. There may be an opportunity to renew the interest of these contacts. In this situation, a re-engagement campaign is in order. This is a new best practice in email management, which provides inactive subscribers the opportunity to take interest in new content and/or re-evaluate whether they still want to subscribe to your emails.

If the result of the re-engagement campaign is that the contact is still not engaged, you may choose to drop them from your list. The school of thought here is this: If the subscriber is not opening your emails, that subscriber is not able to gain any value from your content. Therefore, what’s the point of keeping them on your list?

Step #3: Segment and smile.

One of the underlying themes here, which is critical to email marketing, is to do best by your contacts. Honoring their subscription to your content. One of the best ways that we can do that is by segmenting our email databases into lists that provide us, as marketers, with the insight and ability to provide subscribers with the most relevant content possible. When this happens, everyone wins: subscribers get what they want, and we see better results to our email marketing efforts.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll see you at the spa. In Florida. With a super clean email list.