When something gets dirty, you clean it. Whether you attack it with a scrubbing brush or dump it into a bucket of bleach, you’re going to clean off all of the offending grime and remove those stubborn stains.

Remembering the joy that your tarnished and grubby item brought you when it was pristine, in its best working order and most beautiful. That joy can create the drive and determination to get it back to being the thing of beauty it once was.

How about your email lists, then? Are they pristine? Do they make you proud as they did when you first built them up, with such optimistic numbers? Or are their metrics failing, where your ROI was once up there with the best of them?

If they’re anything short of what you need to meet your marketing goals, it’s time to clean up that email list.

What is a mailing list cleanup?

Cleaning up your email list is a tried and tested way of getting rid of what isn’t working for you and concentrating on what is.

There are a lot of suspect offenders on that list: creating bounces of all types, ignoring your messages, deleting them without ever even reading the subject line. And what about those stunning subject lines you’ve poured hours of your time over?

If those emails are landing straight in the spam folders, nobody’s going to get to see them in the first place.

Cleaning up your email list means getting rid of all those repeating offenders. What it will bring to your marketing is improved metrics—all with their own payoffs.

Why you should I clean up my email?

Clean means efficient; a clean and efficient email list will give your domain and your emails far greater deliverability. This measure isn’t something you hope for; it’s a real rating, decided by the ISPs, so they know exactly how to treat your emails.

Poor deliverability – send it to spam, block it! It’s dirty—don’t touch it, whatever you do.
High deliverability – get that email in pride of place, in the inbox, ready to be read, where it belongs.

What makes an ISP rate your deliverability as good or bad? It’s not guesswork, that’s for sure. They continuously measure all the emails you send to monitor what happens to them.

If your emails get deleted without being opened or read—you’re marked down.

When an email gets bounced because the address no longer exists—you’re marked down.

If your readers fail to click any of the calls to action in your messages, the ISP assumes your content isn’t interesting or relevant—and guess what? You get marked down.

Recipients mark your email as a SPAM, and you get marked down.

Low ranking affects your deliverability, and your domain ends up with a low sender score.

Why should you clean up your email lists, then? To make sure your sender score is the best it can be—above all the red lines and metrics that continue to provide you with a high rate of deliverability. And to make sure your emails arrive in your recipients’ inboxes.

How often should I clean my email lists?

We’ve discussed this matter before, so read our article about cleaning schedules here. For those of you without the time or inclination for that, here’s a quick summary:

  • We’d suggest you clean your lists somewhere between every 1 to 6 months.
  • If your list is growing quickly, then you should clean it more often than one that isn’t.
  • You should also clean a list that’s about to be delivered, and again, after each campaign.

Why before and after?

Cleaning the list before you send it will save you money (that’s if your email server charges you per unit). You’ll remove addresses that have only recently become inactive. You’ll also clear out all the addresses that would have earned you a hard bounce, or ended up as spam.

And after a campaign? You’ll have all that fresh data to work with—outlining all sorts of problem addresses in your pile.

How to clean up a mailing list?

Okay, that’s an interesting question. How should you clean up those email lists? There are a few ways to tackle things, but which is usually best? And is it the right method for you?

Well, the smart option is to combine those methods and get the best of both worlds.

Mailing list cleanup services

Let’s put it another way. Your car is filthy. You’ve been driving all night through the pouring rain, over dirty roads, and all of that mess is caked into every nook and cranny of your pride and joy.

How do you clean it? Do you take it to a car wash? Do you leave the job to the hand-washing team outside the supermarket while you do your shopping? Or do you do it yourself?

Clean it yourself

Nobody loves your car (or your email list) more than you do. You know how your campaigns work, the type of client you’re looking for, the engagement you expect, and the areas that need your undivided attention.

You know the sort of things—under the wheel arches and behind the door sills—all of those awkward to get to bits that only you care about.

By cleaning your list (or your car) yourself, you can be sure it’s received the best attention where it needed it the most.

But how efficient are you?

Can you spot spelling mistakes, as well as AI, can? Would you be anywhere near as fast as a piece of software or an email clean up app? One that has been specifically designed to spot and clear hard bounces at the click of a button?

You’ll get tired, distracted, bored… you are the best person for the job, no doubt, but not every job. Right?

What about getting it hand-washed while you do your shopping?

You can pay someone to do the job for you. It’ll be easier than doing it yourself, but will you get the same level of thoroughness you need?

In the car park, a paid worker might not be so thorough with a queue of cars waiting in line.
In the office, it could well be the same.

Using a software service (or driving through a car wash)

Let’s consider the car wash. It’s fast, easy and efficient, but you’ll have to part with some of your hard-earned cash for the pleasure. What you’ll get is high-pressure jets, attention to both the shell and underneath your car, and you’ll also get a quick polish to finish everything off.

But, the issue with a car wash is, there’s a chance you’ll find a few areas where the dirt didn’t quite come off. Those problem areas that you still need to sort out yourself. The bits that you’ll complain about, that if a job’s worth doing properly, you should have darn well done it yourself.

What you’re forgetting, though, is that apart from those few small instances, the car wash has done a far superior job in so many ways than any human ever could.

That’s why you should use Bouncer

Bouncer clears issues in minutes that would take you days to complete for a list with thousands of addresses.

It’s far better at spotting spelling mistakes and typos, and it certainly doesn’t get tired or procrastinate. It deletes bounced, blocked and spam problems without a second thought. It can save you masses of time and money.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t manually check your lists too—we absolutely think you should. But do yourself a favour, and let us do the bulk of the hard work for you.

Clean your email list with Bouncer

How to keep your email list clean – ideas

Now you’ve got a lovely clean list, how do you keep it that way? Here are a few tried and tested methods to keep you operating at your prime.

Always use a double opt-in

A confirmation email will guarantee that your new subscriber is a real person, and is interested in your content. If they don’t reply to your confirmation email, then they could be a robot or a script or weren’t that interested in the first place. And if not—you don’t need them.

Engage with your contacts

Ask your subscribers if they’re actually interested in what you have to say. You’re allowed to ask for feedback, whether you do it as a questionnaire or a poll is up to you. What you will do, though, is find out more about your customers and gather clicks in the process.

Engage with re-engagement

Look for ways to re-engage with your audience. If you can find out what they want, then you can provide it. Try luring them back with an offer or a gift. We all like something for nothing, and it often buys customer loyalty.

Embrace the unsubscribe button

Losing contacts isn’t a bad thing at all. If it’s losing recipients who are never going to be a customer, then it’s brilliant for you and your metrics. They’re doing your job for you. Keep the unsubscribe button where it’s easy to find. You’ll be doing yourself a favour.

Never EVER buy email lists

The cardinal sin. Okay, you might bump up your list numbers by vast amounts, but it’s a terrible gamble that any of those are the right type of recipient to turn into a customer. You can’t even guarantee the addresses are still active. Just don’t do it. Ever.

Summing up (with a nice coat of wax)

You’ve got options, so use them. Get the best from what’s available, and you’ll stand to succeed.

Whether you need a nice shiny set of bumpers or an email list that will boost your ROI by dropping your bounce rate—a mix of methods is often the best accumulative way to manage your email marketing.

If you need to know more about what we do, or a helping hand cleaning up your list, we’re always here and ready to help.

Let Bouncer clean your email list!