Email List Scrubbing: The Detailed Guide for Email Marketers

Feb 12, 2024

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels even in 2024. And while new methods, hacks and social networks pop up, email reigns supreme as the best way to reach out to potential customers. But what if you’re doing it all wrong?

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Email scrubbing ensures you reach real people and not fake email addresses.

The problem is: email addresses change all the time and on average, 23% of an email list churns every year. To get the best results, you want to make sure you’re sending to addresses that are active, valid, and belong to real people.

This is where email scrubbing services come in.

What is email scrubbing?

Email scrubbing is the process of cleaning your email lists to make sure all of the contacts are active, valid and in use. Also called email list cleaning and email validation, this process is crucial for reducing spam complaints, increasing email deliverability, and getting better results from your email marketing campaigns.

As people change their jobs, stop using email addresses, or use temporary ones to sign up, your list becomes cluttered with invalid email addresses over time. This results in higher bounce rates, tarnished sender reputation with various email service providers and overall poor results from email marketing.

A list of what to do to clean an email list


Why should you scrub your email list?

While an email list cleaning service is not that expensive or complex to use, you may be wondering if it is worth going through the process at all. Here are some of the reasons to use email scrubbing.

Fewer spam complaints

If the majority of your list is clean, it means that emails land in primary inboxes and not the spam folder. It also means that you won’t send emails to people who never opted in to be on your lists.

Most of your emails will land in the inboxes of people who expressed genuine interest in receiving messages from you. By default, fewer emails will go to spam.

No more duplicate email addresses

For a number of reasons, you could have the same address on your list more than once. For example, a sales rep could enter the address manually and then the person subscribes through your website later. This means that you could send the same email twice to one person.

While this is not as bad as sending to invalid email addresses, it still increases your chances of landing in the spam folder. Also, it means spending extra money on sending emails, and if you have lots of doubles, this can mean a sizeable difference for your email marketing budget.

Removing invalid email addresses

An email address can be invalid for many reasons:

  • it no longer exists on the email server
  • the email syntax is wrong (missing the @ symbol, using the wrong characters)
  • incorrect domain name
  • blocked or restricted domain

Many of these errors can be removed by doing a manual check of the addresses on your list. But if you have thousands of subscribers, checking each email for validity is nearly impossible.

Lower bounce rates

Having consistently high bounce rates can get you in trouble with email service providers and hurt your future email marketing prospects. A bounce happens when an email is not delivered, and there are two types: soft and hard bounces.

By using an email verification service to scrub your email list, you can reduce your chances of hard bounces. Emails that go to non-existing addresses and inactive subscribers often result in hard bounces. After giving your addresses a proper scrub, you can expect bounce rates to go down significantly.

Higher open and click through rates

When your emails reach valid email addresses, this means that real people interact with them. With a clean list, more people get to open your emails and click through and hopefully, convert.

If your email marketing strategy is underperforming, it may not be the case that your emails are poorly written or that you have a bad offer. You could just have a number of invalid addresses ruining your overall marketing metrics.

Cost savings with email service providers

ESPs such as Mailchimp have different pricing tiers. However, many of these tools charge you per email sent. The more email addresses on your list, the higher the monthly bill.

When you use email verification services, you are left only with valid addresses. This means that you spend less money for every email blast that goes out and the ROI of your email campaigns is improved.

More accurate analytics and reporting

You may be getting great results from your email efforts without knowing it. If a large number of addresses on your list are not valid, that means your entire email marketing reporting system is skewed.

After using email list cleaning tools, you’ll be left with only those addresses that really engage with you as a sender. For example, $10,000 in sales from 700 emails sounds a lot better than the same results from 1,000 emails.

When should you do email scrubbing?

Depending on the size of your list and how often you send emails, there are a few different best practices and different answers to this question.

Time-wise: every six months or so

At Bouncer, we recommend using our email verification service about twice a year. As we mentioned above, your list will churn at 23% annually, so doing a scrub twice a year helps you remove inactive subscribers and invalid addresses.

Of course, the bigger your lists, the higher the chances of spam email addresses showing up on it. If you have a lot of emails, scrubbing even more regularly is a good way to ensure a stellar sender reputation.

When you notice a decrease in open and click through rates

If you’re sending similar emails to the same lists and your open rates are not looking great, it’s time to employ an email list cleaning service. You may have an increase in inactive subscribers, resulting in higher email bounces.

With Bouncer, you can validate email addresses in a matter of minutes, so running a quick check can help determine the real cause of the problem.

When your spam complaints go up

If there is a higher number of spam complaints, you could be sending irrelevant emails to people who never agreed to receive them. Besides scrubbing your list, it’s worth using double opt in to make sure no one is adding irrelevant emails.

Also, you could re engage inactive subscribers by asking everyone on your list to confirm their subscription. This way, some email subscribers will voluntarily opt out and improve your overall metrics.

How to scrub your list – the easy way

Ready to improve your sender reputation, have your email deliverability skyrocket and have fewer bounced email addresses? Let’s see how you can scrub your email lists.

Use an email list cleaning service

Before doing anything in your email marketing tools, first grab a validation tool such as Bouncer. These are specialized tools that can go through hundreds of thousands of emails every hour, picking up every invalid email address on the way.

Bouncer - email list cleaning service

Here are some of the things that Bouncer can help you spot:

Just upload your list or integrate your favorite email marketing tools and Bouncer will quickly go through them to find the email addresses you should remove for good. At 98%, Bouncer has the highest accuracy in the email list cleaning service arena.

And if you want to move even more quickly, you can use the email list cleaning service API and add verification at the point of entry. In other words, you can validate emails as soon as someone enters them on your website!

Sounds like a plan? Sign up for Bouncer today and validate your first 100 emails for free!

Find unengaged subscribers

These are inactive subscribers that are on your lists but they’re not engaging any more. They stopped reading your emails and clicking through but they are not unsubscribing for whatever reason. You want to focus on active subscribers only and the inactive bunch is only lowering your email marketing results.

To find them, you can do one of the following.

  1. Remove email addresses that have not opened your emails in a specific time period (e.g. six months)
  2. Run a re engagement campaign and ask subscribers if they still want to receive emails. This way, only the engaged subscribers remain on your lists.

Segment or remove these subscribers

You may want to keep these subscribers on your list for some time period, and your email marketing tool will let you set them as inactive.

Alternatively, you could remove them altogether, after ensuring that they really do not want to hear from you again.

Give recipients options

Perhaps someone is still interested in receiving emails from you, but just not in the way you send them. Your subscribers inboxes may be cluttered with your emails, so give them a choice with your re engagement email.

Provide them an option: if they want to stay, they can change their email preferences – what they receive and when they receive it. This way, you’ll still have a good list of subscribers who interact with you more often.

Wrapping up

Having a good list of email addresses is a goldmine for marketers and salespeople. But you need to make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot with your email marketing efforts. Like a garden, an email list needs frequent tending to if you want the best results.

At Bouncer, we have you remove inactive and outdated email addresses, along with any other address you should stay away from. We offer high accuracy and integrate with your favorite email marketing automation tools.

And if you sign up today, you can validate your first 100 emails for free!


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