Email scrubbing helps you to keep your mailing list efficient. Suppose it’s full of expired addresses or subscribers that are no longer interested in you or what you have to offer. In that case, they’re part of a bigger problem—your email deliverability.
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What is email scrubbing?
Scrubbing is an industry term for cleaning out addresses that are no use to you. Scrubbing helps you attain your best possible sender score and improve your deliverability. What’s not to like?
Why scrub email addresses?
It’s all about metrics, and how they affect your results.
The ISPs keep a close eye on how your email campaigns are received. They use that data to determine whether you’re a great/good/unwanted source of information for their users.
If you send out an email and it gets deleted without being read or sent straight into the spam folder, your ISP knows. If too many of your recipients do the same, then the ISP decides you’re not a valuable source of information and sends you to the spam folder itself—or worse still, blocks your domain.
Scrubbing your email list will result in:
- Fewer spam complaints
- Better open and click rates
- More efficient allocation of budget
- Improved performance, metrics and ROI
Things to take care of before a good scrubbing
There are a handful of things every good marketer needs to know before making hasty decisions. Accurate data is everything. It removes the guesswork from our decisions.
Checking a few simple areas could hold the answers to why your emails aren’t getting opened; saving you from deleting what could be active and worthy addresses.
- Can you work out why emails are bouncing?
- Are you collecting addresses using opt-in methods or an alternative two-factor authentication?
- Do you communicate with your subscribers to find out why they might have lost interest?
How to scrub your email lists?
- Segment your email list
- Clean the segment
- Attempt to re-engage your freshly cleaned segment
- Delete the bad addresses from your list
- Check the automated responses to your campaigns
Each email delivery app will have its own ways of organizing itself, and what it calls its elements—but ultimately they’re all there to do the same job, and they work in very similar ways.
If you can’t locate the areas we talk about, search through your software’s help files, and they’ll turn up—only with a different name or slightly different action.
Step 1 – Segment your list
The first thing to do is take all of the suspect addresses to one side to determine if they’re worth keeping or not.
You do this by moving subscribers who don’t engage anymore into a list of their own. You do this using ‘segments’.
Find the ‘create a segment’ option in your list management, and there will be an option for inactive or cold subscribers. They both mean the same thing. In fact, your software might call it something different again (but it’s unlikely). Inactive (or cold) subscribers are the subscribers on your list who haven’t opened any of your emails for 90 days.
If a subscriber hasn’t opened any of your emails for 90 days, it’s unlikely they’re going to during the next 90. It’s assumed most businesses send at least one email each week; that’s about a dozen emails over 3 months. It outlines a habit that’s more than likely already stuck. Why would they do that? Well, it’s easier than unsubscribing.
If your software doesn’t include a cold/inactive option, then choose your own parameters.
Your segment could include all addresses that didn’t open any of your previous 5 or 10 email campaigns. It’s the same type of segment, only a different set of search criteria.
Perform the search for all of your inactive or cold subscribers and segment them.
Download them into a new spreadsheet containing the addresses, and move on to Step 2.
Step 2 – Clean your inactive addresses segment
If you’re an eagle-eyed superhuman with all the time in the world—or you have a really small list—then you could do this manually.
What you’re looking for is misspelt and fake email addresses, yet that’s only half the battle.
This is where you can’t beat using email scrubbing software to do the hard work for you.
Bouncer is ready to help.
Not only do our email scrubbing services track down misspelt and fake addresses, but they also check for all kinds of bounces, duplicates, expired addresses, non-existent domains and more. It’s far more thorough than you could ever be, and a hundred times faster.
Scrub an email list for free.
That’s right. Bouncer gives you 1000 credits absolutely free to get you up and running. It’s also a great opportunity for us to show you how beneficial our verification tool is, and how much it will add to your ROI and streamline your budget.
Running your list through our software will leave you with a new list of emails that are getting delivered, yet sadly, ignored. So, what do you do with them?
You could unsubscribe the lot and have done with it. Or, you could give them one last chance to engage. On we go to Step 3.
Step 3 – Can you re-engage your inactive subscribers?
Consider why your subscribers aren’t reading your emails.
- Did they lose interest?
- Find someone cheaper?
- Do they no longer need what you have to offer?
- DID THEY DIE?
Whichever reason (apart from the last one, of course…), there’s a possibility that with the right information or offer, you could win them back.
So, ask them what they want.
If they don’t reply, then that’s it. The love affair is over, and it’s time to unsubscribe them for good.
If they do reply, can you use that information to get them back on the hook? Perhaps, squeeze a few more sales from them? Or at the very least, garner a few more clicks to bump up your metrics?
Here’s what your re-engagement email could offer:
- A discount on their next purchase
- A free gift with their next order
- Access to premium services
Alternatively—why not just ask them if they want out? If they’re just not interested anymore, then they’re no good to you. They’ll never be a good customer, at least, not any time in the near future. So, lead your emails with the following messages (or similar) and ask if they’d like to unsubscribe.
- We miss you!
- Where have you gone?
- Was it something we said?
Okay, you lose a few numbers from your list, but your metrics jump up, as does your list quality. It’s a clear win.
Step 4 – It’s time to say goodbye for good
Well, maybe not for good. Yes, they need to go from your list—they’re doing nothing but harm on there—but save those addresses in another spreadsheet in case you can use them somewhere else.
If you need to target ads on other platforms, for example, Facebook or Google Ads, this list gives you a clear headstart when you’re launching a new product or service, or breaking into a new market.
Otherwise, head back to your inactive subscribers’ segment, delete all of the users it holds, and then upload the salvaged emails back into your list.
Job done. Treat yourself to a coffee.
Step 5 – Check for automatic response emails
This is the final part of your scrub.
Depending on how large your list is, it could take quite some time, but any addresses that you find and remedy, are all small steps for the greater good. Only you can judge the value of a truly scrubbed list against your time.
For many, this might not be worth the effort, but taking a few minutes here and there could add an extra level of sheen to your all-new shiny metrics.
If a reply to your campaign looks like a robot sent it, and not a human, you should use that information as part of the process.
Automated emails uncover a host of truths.
- The address is no longer valid
- The employee no longer works here
- The recipient has changed departments
- They’re out of office
Whatever they say, you’ll be able to determine if the address is valid for your needs. If they’re out of office, have they really been absent for 90 days? And if so, are they worth keeping? If they’ve moved, changed jobs, been fired, or disappeared into thin air—it’s time for them to go.
That’s it! You’re all scrubbed up and ready for your new streamlined results
With a streamlined list, your rates of engagement will improve significantly—just as you need them to. Not necessarily because you have more opens and clicks, but because you have far fewer poor and pointless subscribers dragging your quality metrics down.
The ISPs work on percentages, remember, not just the number of clicks. If you’re sending out a thousand emails and fifty people open them, your rates will be much higher than if fifty people opened the same message, but without sending it to the two or three hundred addresses that were never going to open it in the first place.
Better for your metrics, and better for your budget. It’s a win-win, and all it takes is a good scrub.
Izabela is a leading contributor to the Bouncer’s blog. She is inspired to help companies all around the world to get emails into their recipients’ inboxes
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