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9 Best Practices For Maintaining A Clean Email List

9 Best Practices For Maintaining A Clean Email List

Are you tired of sending emails to a list full of inactive and unengaged subscribers? Do you feel like you’re just sending emails into the abyss, never to be seen or opened by anyone?


If so, it’s time to give your email list a good ol’ scrub down and follow some best practices for maintaining email list hygiene. A clean and engaged email list is crucial for the success of your email marketing campaigns.


Not only will it improve your deliverability rates, but it will also help you target your messages to the right audience and ultimately drive more conversions.


Whether you’re just starting out in email marketing or have been at it for a while, these tips and tricks will help you keep your list clean and your emails reaching the right people. So let’s dive in and start improving those email campaigns!


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What is email list hygiene?


Alright, so let’s define what exactly we mean by email list hygiene. Essentially, it’s all about keeping your email list up-to-date, engaged, and clean of any inactive or unengaged subscribers.


This involves regularly purging your list of any email addresses that have bounced or are no longer valid, as well as those who haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in a certain period of time.


By doing this, you’ll have a smaller, but more targeted and engaged list of subscribers who are actually interested in hearing from you. Plus, it’ll help improve your deliverability rates and avoid being flagged as spam.


Email list hygiene is just good practice for any email marketer looking to have successful campaigns and not end up in the dreaded spam folder.


Why should you clean your email lists regularly?


Email list hygiene is not just about having a clean and organized list – it’s about improving the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.


Here are four key reasons why you should make cleaning your lists a regular part of your email marketing routine.


  • Improve deliverability rates
  • Saves time and resources
  • Better targeting of messages
  • Protects your reputation


Let’s take a closer look at each.


Why you should clean your email lists regularly

1. Improve deliverability rates


As an email marketer, you know that deliverability rates are everything. If your emails aren’t reaching your subscribers’ inboxes, then all of your hard work is essentially for nothing.


That’s where cleaning your email list comes in. By removing inactive or unengaged subscribers, you’re essentially telling email service providers (ESPs) that your list is of high quality and not just a bunch of random addresses that you’ve collected over the years.


This increases the chances of your emails actually making it to your subscribers’ inboxes and not getting sent to the spam or the “promotions” tab.


Plus, a clean list means you’re not paying for subscribers who aren’t even seeing your emails.


2. Saves time and resources


So, you might be wondering, “Why bother cleaning my email list? Won’t it just take up more time and resources?” But the truth is, cleaning your email list can actually save you both time and resources in the long run.


Think about it this way: when you send emails to inactive or unengaged subscribers, you’re essentially sending emails to a black hole. They’re not opening or clicking on your emails, which means they’re not engaging with your brand or converting.


This means you’re wasting time and resources on sending emails that are never going to give you a return on investment.


On the other hand, when you clean your email list and remove inactive or unengaged subscribers, you’re only sending emails to people who are actually interested in hearing from you.


This means you’ll see higher open and click-through rates, which can lead to more conversions and ultimately, more revenue.


3. Better targeting of messages


Okay, so now that we’ve established the importance of maintaining a clean email list, let’s dive into how it can help you target your messages. When you have a list full of inactive or unengaged subscribers, it’s like trying to hit a moving target.


You have no idea who is actually paying attention to your emails, and as a result, your messages may not be resonating with anyone.


On the other hand, a clean email list allows you to focus your efforts on a more targeted audience.


You can segment your list based on engagement, demographics, interests, and more, and send targeted messages that are more likely to be opened and acted upon.


This not only leads to higher conversion rates but also builds trust and loyalty with your subscribers.


4. Protects your reputation


As an email marketer, your reputation is everything. It’s what sets you apart from the competition and helps you build trust with your subscribers. And let’s face it, no one wants to be known as the spammer who constantly sends emails to inactive or unengaged subscribers.


So, how does cleaning your email list protect your reputation?


First and foremost, it helps improve your deliverability rates. If you have a large number of inactive or unengaged subscribers on your list, it’s likely that your emails will end up in the spam folder or not even make it to the inbox at all.


By cleaning your list and removing inactive subscribers, you’ll have a better chance of getting your emails delivered to the inbox and actually seen by your target audience.


Cleaning your list also protects your reputation by showing that you value and respect your subscribers. No one wants to feel like they’re just a number on a list and by removing inactive subscribers, you’re showing that you care about the people who have chosen to receive your emails.


This helps build trust and loyalty, which is crucial for the success of any email marketing campaign.


Cleaning your email list protects your reputation by improving deliverability rates, showing that you value your subscribers, and ultimately helping you build trust and loyalty with your audience.


When should you clean your email lists?


Well, the answer is simple: it’s not a one-time thing, it’s a continuous process.


First and foremost, you should be constantly pruning your email list to remove inactive or unengaged subscribers. These are the people who haven’t opened or clicked on any of your emails in the past six months (or even longer).


Not only do they add unnecessary clutter to your list, but they also hurt your deliverability rates and can even get you flagged as spam. So, it’s important to remove these subscribers on a regular basis (at least every six months) to keep your list fresh and engaged.


Secondly, you should also be checking for invalid or bounced emails on a regular basis. These are the emails that aren’t going through because the address is no longer active or the domain doesn’t exist.


Not only do these emails not get delivered, but they also hurt your deliverability rates. It’s crucial to remove these invalid or bounced emails from your list as soon as you notice them.


Finally, it’s also a good idea to segment your email list based on engagement and interests. This way, you can target your emails to the right audience and increase the chances of them being opened and clicked on.


Segmenting your list will also help you identify the most engaged subscribers, so you can reward them with special offers or exclusive content.


As for the frequency of cleaning, as a general rule of thumb, you should aim to clean your lists at least once a quarter, or every 3 months.


This gives you enough time to see which subscribers are inactive or unengaged but also allows for some flexibility in case someone hasn’t opened an email in a few months but may still be interested in future campaigns.


Best practices for maintaining email list hygiene


The following are some of the best practices you should consider when trying to maintain email list hygiene.


  • Delete inactive subscribers
  • Segment your list of subscribers
  • Make use of double opt-ins
  • Provide opt-out and opt-down options
  • Use a professional email address
  • Send out re-engagement email campaigns
  • Grow your list organically
  • Leverage automation
  • Avoid language that will take you to the spam folder


Here’s a deeper look at these best practices.

1. Delete inactive subscribers


If you’ve been running an email list for a while, chances are you’ve accumulated a few inactive subscribers. You know the ones – they never open your emails, never click on any links, and never make a purchase.


While it might be tempting to hang onto every single person on your list in the hopes that they’ll eventually become active, the truth is that keeping inactive subscribers around can actually hurt your email marketing efforts.


Plus, if you’re paying for your email service based on the number of subscribers you have, inactive subscribers are just taking up space and costing you money.


So, how do you go about deleting inactive subscribers? The first step is to identify who they are. Most email marketing platforms will allow you to segment your list based on activity, so you can see who’s been active and who hasn’t.


From there, it’s up to you how you want to handle the inactive subscribers. Some people like to send a re-engagement email, offering a special deal or incentive to try and get them back. Others simply delete them from the list.


Either way, don’t be afraid to bid farewell to those inactive subscribers – it might just be the best thing for your email marketing strategy.


2. Segment your list of subscribers


Why do you want to segment your list? Well, it’s all about delivering relevant content to the right people.


If you’ve got a bunch of different types of subscribers – say, some who are interested in your blog posts, some who are interested in your product launches, and some who are just interested in your weekly newsletters – it’s going to be tough to send out one email that’s going to be relevant to all of them.


By segmenting your list, you can create different groups and send specific content to each group.


This way, you’re not overwhelming your subscribers with irrelevant information, and you’re also making sure that you’re sending the right content to the right people at the right time.


So how do you segment your list? There are a ton of different ways to do it – you can segment by interests, by location, by purchase history, and the list goes on. The key is to figure out what works best for your business and your subscribers.


And once you’ve got your list segmented, make sure to keep it up to date. Add new subscribers to the right groups, and remove inactive ones.


3. Make use of double opt-ins


If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a double opt-in is when someone subscribes to your email list and then has to confirm their subscription via a separate email.


This may seem like an extra step, but it’s actually a great way to ensure that the person actually wants to receive emails from you and that their email address is valid.


Think about it – if someone accidentally subscribes to your list (maybe they meant to sign up for something else), a double opt-in gives them the opportunity to correct that mistake before they start receiving emails from you.


And if someone uses a fake or inactive email address to subscribe, they won’t be able to confirm their subscription, so you won’t have to waste time and resources sending emails to a dead end.


Using double opt-ins may lead to a slightly lower subscription rate, but the trade-off is worth it. You’ll have a higher-quality list of engaged subscribers who are actually interested in hearing from you.


And in the long run, that’s going to lead to better email campaign results.


4. Provide opt-out and opt-down options


When it comes to email list hygiene, it’s all about giving your subscribers options. And the two most important options you can offer are the ability to opt-out and opt-down.


Let’s start with opt-out. This is basically a way for subscribers to tell you “thanks, but no thanks” when it comes to receiving emails from you. And you know what? That’s totally okay.


Not everyone is going to be interested in what you have to offer, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. By providing an opt-out option, you’re giving your subscribers the power to decide whether or not they want to stay on your list. And that’s a good thing.


Now let’s talk about opt-down. This is an option that allows subscribers to choose how often they receive emails from you.


Maybe they love your content, but they don’t want to be inundated with emails every day. Or maybe they’re interested in certain topics, but not others.


By offering an opt-down option, you’re giving your subscribers the ability to customize their experience and only receive the emails that are most relevant to them. And that’s a win-win for everyone.


Opt-out and opt-down options are two of the best practices when it comes to email list hygiene. They give your subscribers the power to choose how they want to engage with your emails, and that’s something everyone can appreciate.


5. Use a professional email address


We know, it might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people still use their personal email addresses for business purposes.


Let’s be real, no one wants to receive an email from “” when they’re expecting professional communication from a colleague or potential client.


Using a professional email address not only helps establish credibility and professionalism but also ensures that your emails won’t end up in the spam folder.


Think about it – would you rather send an email from “” or “”? The answer is obvious.


But it’s not just about the domain, the actual email address itself should also be professional. Avoid using cutesy or silly nicknames, and stick with something simple and straightforward like “”.


And don’t forget, it’s not just about the initial impression – it’s about maintaining a level of professionalism throughout all of your email communications.


6. Send out re-engagement email campaigns


Maybe they signed up a long time ago and just never really got into your content, or maybe they’re just too busy to open every single email you send out.


Whatever the reason, it’s important to keep your email list clean and make sure you’re only sending emails to people who actually want to receive them. One of the best ways to do this is by sending out re-engagement campaigns.


First things first, make sure you segment your list and only send the re-engagement campaign to those who haven’t opened or clicked on an email from you in a while. You don’t want to annoy the people who are still interested in your content – that’s not the goal here.


The goal is to gently remind the inactive subscribers that you’re still here and see if they’re still interested in receiving emails from you.


In the email, be sure to include a clear and concise subject line that clearly explains the purpose of the email. Something like “We miss you!” or “Still interested in hearing from us?” can be effective.


In the body of the email, be sure to remind them of the value they can get from your emails and offer them the option to stay subscribed or unsubscribe. Make it easy for them to make a decision and provide clear calls to action.


It’s also a good idea to offer some sort of incentive for those who decide to stay subscribed. This could be a discount code, access to exclusive content, or a free resource. This can help give them a little extra push to stay on your list.


Just be sure to be respectful and offer a clear call to action to make it easy for inactive subscribers to make a decision.


7. Grow your list organically


No one likes receiving emails from strangers, so don’t go buying lists or adding people without their consent. It’s just creepy and it will ultimately hurt your deliverability and reputation.


Instead, focus on building relationships with your audience and getting them to opt-in to your emails. This can be done through sign-up forms on your website, social media, or even in-person events.


Just make sure you clearly communicate the value they’ll receive by joining your list and always include an easy way to unsubscribe.


8. Leverage automation


When it comes to email list hygiene, marketing automation can help you remove inactive subscribers, send automated emails to encourage engagement, and even segment your list based on specific criteria.


So, how do you get started with marketing automation for your email list? Start off by choosing a platform that fits your needs. There are plenty of options out there, so do some research and see what works best for you.


Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to set up some automation. This could include things like sending a re-engagement email to inactive subscribers or segmenting your list based on interests or purchase history.


One important thing to keep in mind when using marketing automation for email list hygiene is to be mindful of your subscribers’ preferences.


Make sure to include an option for them to opt out, and always be transparent about what they can expect to receive from you.


9. Avoid language that will take you to the spam folder


One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting caught in the spam filter. No one wants their emails to end up in the dreaded spam folder, so it’s important to follow some best practices to avoid this fate.


First and foremost, pay attention to your subject line. This is the first thing your recipient sees, so it needs to be catchy and relevant. Avoid using all caps, excessive exclamation points, and spammy language like “free money” or “click here to win.”


Instead, opt for something clear and concise that accurately reflects the content of your email.


Another tip is to avoid sending emails to inactive subscribers. If someone hasn’t opened one of your emails in a long time, they’re probably not interested in hearing from you. So, be sure to clean out your list regularly and only send emails to those who are actually engaged with your content.


And last but not least, make sure you’re following the CAN-SPAM Act. This includes clearly labeling your emails as advertising, using a valid physical postal address, and providing a way for recipients to opt out of future emails.


If you’re following all of these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the spam filter and keeping your emails out of the trash, and into the right eyes.


How to revive a cold email list with re-engagement


So you’ve got a cold email list that’s been sitting in your inbox for months, maybe even years. What do you need to do to bring it back to life?


Here’s how to revive a cold email list with re-engagement.



  • Start by segmenting your list into smaller groups based on their level of engagement. This will help you tailor your messaging and make it more personalized.


  • Next, send out a re-engagement email to your inactive subscribers. This could be something as simple as “Hey there! We noticed you haven’t been as active as you used to be. Is there anything we can do to help?” or “We miss you! Are you still interested in receiving our emails?”


  • Incentivize your subscribers to come back by offering something valuable, like a discount or exclusive content.


  • Make sure your emails are visually appealing and easy to read. No one wants to spend their time reading a boring, text-heavy email.


  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different subject lines and email formats. Find what works best for your audience and stick with it.


  • Finally, make sure you’re consistently providing value to your subscribers. Whether it’s through educational content, entertainment, or something else entirely, make sure you’re giving them a reason to stay on your list.


Reviving a cold email list may take some time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. By re-engaging with your inactive subscribers, you can build stronger relationships and ultimately drive more sales for your business.


Practice good email list hygiene with Scale It Right


Maintaining good email list hygiene is crucial for the success of any email marketing campaign. It not only helps to improve deliverability rates, but it also ensures that you are only sending emails to engaged and interested recipients.


If you’re new to this or finding it difficult to keep your email list clean and organized, consider reaching out to our team at Scale It Right. Offering a range of email marketing services, we will also help you keep your lists clean to make sure your campaigns are as effective as possible.


Don’t let a cluttered and unorganized email list hold you back. Contact us to help you scale up your marketing efforts and achieve the results you desire.


About Scale It Right

At Scale It Right, we offer hyper-focused demand generation as a service to help your startup or SMB scale and grow. Our approach is designed to help businesses generate high-quality leads and accelerate their growth through targeted marketing campaigns and personalized outreach.

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