Imagine you’re a door-to-door salesperson. Out of the 500 houses you regularly visit, there are usually only 50 or 60 people who will open their doors for you. Wouldn’t it be so much more efficient if you could go straight to those houses and miss the others out?

Think of what you could do with all that wasted time, knocking on doors you didn’t need to. You could be sipping cocktails on the beach, or catching up with old friends.

Wouldn’t that be a much better use of your time?

What is email list cleaning?

Email marketing can be just like that. In this article, we’re going to show you how you can skip all the houses that don’t have any intention of buying from you, and how to go straight to the ones that will give your product a chance.

In more practical terms, we’re going to show you how to clean up a mailing list and the rewards you’ll reap by doing so.

Why you should clean up your email list?

Quality over quantity. It’s that simple.

Whether you call it email cleansing, email scrubbing, list cleaning or any of the myriad other terms for pretty much the same thing, it’s part of the process you should be doing at least 2 or 3 times each year.

Your instinct might be that the wider the net you cast out, the more leads and conversions you’ll pull in. Sadly, research shows that that’s not the case. The information you get back from your email campaigns should show you that too, by how many of your recipients ignore your messages or even worse, send them straight to their spam folders.

For better returns, results and ROI, we want you to start preaching to the choir and deleting anyone who simply isn’t interested. That way, you’re ROI will go up, your metrics will look far superior, and you’ll have a much more guided and efficient sales funnel.


The benefits of a clean email list

  • Greater open and click rates
  • Fewer spam complaints
  • Reduction in hard bounces
  • Lower costs
  • Improved metrics

How do I clean my email list?

The following suggestions are some of the key areas into how to clean up your email list.

All hard bounces must go

First things first—check your bounces for hard and soft issues. A hard bounce is the result of an email address that is no longer valid. If your email service doesn’t automatically delete hard bounced addresses, then do it yourself.

Check for duplicate addresses

Again, if your email service doesn’t automatically check for duplicates—you should. Recipients receiving multiple copies of the same message won’t appreciate you clogging up their inbox.

Eliminate spam addresses

You know what a spam address looks like. They can be full of randomly generated characters that make no sense or are trying too hard to look like a genuine brand, yet still failing to do so. If they don’t look like addresses registered by real people, it’s time for them to go.

Eliminate spam complaints

You’ve done it yourself. You receive an email from a sender you’ve lost interest in and instead of deleting it or clicking their unsubscribe option, you dump it in your spam folder.

Those messages send a report to the email service providers, letting them know that your messages are useless and possibly unsolicited. That’s a black mark against your name (your sender reputation). Too many of those will affect your campaigns’ deliverability.

Be proactive when open and click rates drop

When your recipients have stopped opening your messages, clearly they’ve lost interest. You can try to reengage them with a campaign designed to lure that type of recipient back—but don’t try too hard. If they aren’t interested, they aren’t interested. Delete them from your list and get back to selling your products to someone who is.

Honour your recipients’ unsubscribes

If any of your subscribers ask to be removed from your list, do it straight away. There’s nothing worse than receiving messages you don’t want when you’ve asked them to stop. If you don’t, those messages are heading straight for the spam folder, which will damage your email reputation.

Search out those obvious typos

As you check through your list of hard bounced email addresses, make sure there isn’t an obvious reason for the bounce. Too many hard bounces are down to poor syntax—that’s a misspelling or bad typing to you and me.

Correct the error and test them again. Chances are you’ve just saved yourself from deleting a valuable lead.

How to ping the server to validate an email address

One way to check if an email address is valid without sending an email is to ping the mail server.

You’ll need to use a console app to do this. It’s an accurate test, but it’s longwinded, technical, and overly time-consuming for more than a few addresses.

1. First, you’ll need the MX record from the domain’s DNS server. You do this by using a lookup command in your console app. Once you’ve accessed the list of mail exchanger MX records, you want the one with the highest priority—and that’s the one with the lowest preference value.

2. Validate the address via SMTP. Again, using your console app and the appropriate commands, connect to the email server via the MX record previously located, establish an SMTP handshake, specify the email address that needs validating, and finally perform its validation.

3. View your results. You will receive a ‘250 OK’ message for a valid address or the following message for failed addresses: ‘The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try double-checking the recipient’s email address for typos or unnecessary spaces’.

As we said, this is a long-winded process that requires a more than a basic level of expertise. It’s useful if you only have one or two addresses to validate, but if you’ve got a long list of addresses to validate, it’s really not a practical option.

Manual email list cleaning vs. automated email list cleaning

Depending on how big your lists are, you could be tempted to clean an old email list manually. That means scouring through your data and making all of those crucial decisions yourself.

Unless your list has a tiny number of addresses, an automated system is always going to come out on top. And even if your list is small, you should be looking into how you’re going make it bigger and bigger, filled with new and positive leads—so it won’t stay a small list for long.

We believe Bouncer is one of the best email list cleaners on the market—and here’s why:

  • It’s fast, efficient, and it does all the hard work for you, freeing you up to take on the tasks that are a better use of your valuable time.
  • Incredible 99.5% accuracy
  • Secure data with GDPR compliance
  • Simple, user-friendly tools
  • Address validation
  • Free domain provider checks
  • Catch-all checker
  • Disposable email detection
  • Role-based address detection
  • Domain and MX record validation
  • Customizable result filtering
  • Integrated with your favourite email sending tools

If the information we’ve put together in this article isn’t enough to see the value of our automated email list cleaning, take us for a test drive! You can clean up your email list free—we’ll gladly give you 1000 address validation credits, the moment you sign up.

There you have it—it turns out less is more, after all

Now you know how to clean up an email list, you can strip out all of the old redundant addresses and start selling through your cleaner, streamlined selling funnel.

Your metrics will be stronger, your deliverability improved, and your ROI much greater without all of those dead-end addresses adding to your campaign cost.