At some point or another we’ve all heard about how important it is to send email communications on a regular basis to our mailing list of users or clients. We even posted a blog about “4 Reasons There’s a Goldmine in Your Mailing List”. Although this is mostly true it’s also important to remember that just because you have a massive database of email addresses doesn’t mean you should be sending everyone emails. In fact, if you’re not careful this can end up having a very negative impact on your email activity and hurt your bottom line.

In order to maximize your email campaigns, you’ll need to ensure you practice proper email list hygiene. But what exactly does this mean and how can this be accomplished? Keep reading to learn more about what proper mailing list hygiene is and what are some great steps to follow to ensure your lists stay so fresh and so clean.

What is proper email list hygiene?

Mailing list hygiene refers to ensuring your list of emails has the most up to date and accurate information available as well as ensuring you periodically review your lists and clean inactive users or emails that are regularly bouncing. Most important of all is ensuring you have a valid email address. If you attempt to send emails to addresses that are no longer being used by anyone or to an address that was made-up this can harm you in the long run. Working to maintain a clean list will get you better delivery rates and open and clicks rates. If you’re hoping to reach people’s inbox and not their spam folders or worse get rejected completely, you’ll need to practice proper email list hygiene. Below are some easy ways to keep your email lists clean.

Verify your user’s email address upon signup

It can seem strange to some and completely logical to others but always verify their email address. This means they can’t just type anything they like and submit a request. Verifying someone’s email can be done a few different ways. One of the most common forms of email verifying is called double opt-in. This works by sending you a confirmation email when you’ve signed up that forces you to click a link in the email you received in order to finish the signup process. By opening the email and clicking the link you are essentially confirming this email address belongs to me and is currently being used.

Another way to verify the email address is placing certain restrictions or rules that need to be met for the email address to be saved. This can include using a minimum number of characters before and after the @ symbol. Or not accepting emails that use the same letter or numbers too many times in a row like Proper list hygiene starts with a valid email address.

Remove email addresses that have been inactive for an extended period of time 

It’s only natural that some users will be more engaged than others. In other words, some people will open and read your emails on a regular basis and some won’t even bother to look inside. The more time passes the harder it can get to re-engage old users and get them to interact with your emails again. At some point continuously sending these users emails will harm your overall reputation and affect deliverability as well.

In time you should begin removing inactive or dormant users from your active mailing campaigns. One way to decide when to remove someone from a list can be by deciding on a predetermined number of emails you will be sending these people and monitor their response rates. This could mean sending 4 emails a month and deciding if they haven’t opened the last 4 they probably won’t open the 5th one. Another way could be to remove users based on the length of time since they last opened one of your emails. There is no exact science or recipe for this you’ll need to do some trial and error. Keep in mind once in a while sending an email to inactive users can help you bring some back. However, this should be done carefully and in small batches.

Suppress email addresses that bounce

No matter how clean your lists are at some point some emails you send may bounce meaning they never reach your inbox. It’s important to note there is a difference between a hard bounce and soft bounce. Soft bounces refer to a few possible options such as the inbox was full, or the email service provider was overloaded. In short the email was temporarily undeliverable. Soft bounces do not reflect that your email address is no good. They also don’t reflect how your next email send will go. A hard bounce is something much worse. In this case the email address is BAD. Sending to many emails that hard bounce can ruin your IP reputation and tank your future email campaigns.

If you have emails address that are soft bouncing too often or are hard bouncing even once you need to suppress them from your lists. Most email sending platforms like MailChimp will have suppression lists where you can add these email addresses.

Get permission to send them emails

2021 is the year user privacy will take the forefront. With so many new laws, rules and regulation happening around the world it’s easy to get in trouble for emailing users who never gave you permission to do so. Places like Canada that have enacted the CanSpam laws or in Europe where they introduced GDPR. There are some countries where you can get finned for emailing people you never requested permission from in the first place. Besides fines and getting in trouble with the law this can also harm your regular email activities. This will also lead to an increase in people clicking on this is spam which overtime tells ESPs you’re a spammer.

In order to avoid this, you need to make sure there is a checkbox on your signup forms to ensure each person is giving you permission to contact them in the future. This will ensure you avoid any complaints or any trouble with the law.

If you’re looking to implement proper list hygiene or other email best practices, we can help. ThreeeDots have over 10 years of experience sending emails campaigns. For more information visit or click here to send us an email to book your free consultation.

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