Proper Email List Hygiene: 7 Best Practices

Email hygiene is one of the most important yet overlooked parts of email marketing. Many businesses work hard to collect valid email addresses only to find that many of them don’t generate the desired results. Others mistakenly believe that email hygiene is a one-time process.

In reality, scrubbing your email list is a continuous tactic that keeps your email campaign in top shape. While you are working on subject lines, high-quality content, and a good sender reputation, you need to keep proper email list hygiene in mind. Otherwise, your email marketing efforts could be lost in vain.

Let’s take a closer look at the best practices aimed at keeping your email list clean.

Importance of Regular Email Hygiene

Email list cleaning isn’t just important to the success of your email campaigns. It’s necessary for your company’s reputation. Here are a few reasons why you need to keep making sure that your list includes active email addresses.  

Sender Reputation

Sender reputation is your standing with the current internet service provider. Essentially, it measures your company’s reputation.

If you continue sending emails to inactive email subscribers or hitting spam traps, the provider can lower your sender’s score. As a result of poor sender reputation, your emails will end up going to spam. Eventually, some internet service providers may decide to blacklist you.


When you run an email campaign, it’s imperative to analyze how well it’s working. For example, you need to understand what the conversion rate is. If you send 1,000 promotional messages and 10 email recipients take action, the conversion rate is 1%.  However, if out of 1,000 recipients, 100 email addresses were invalid, your conversion rate is well over 1%.

While these numbers may seem minor at first, such a discrepancy could affect your tactics and hinder your entire email marketing campaign.

Email Deliverability and Open Rates

With proper email list cleaning, you are making sure that only the right people receive your messages. If subscribers want and expect to receive emails from you, they are likely to open them instead of sending them to the spam folders.

Better open rates improve your reputation with email service providers and improve the results of your email marketing campaigns.


Scrubbing your email list isn’t a costly process. Meanwhile, sending messages to inactive subscribers is. Every time you try to send an email to a non-existing address or to a person who doesn’t want to receive it, you are wasting a part of your marketing budget.

Eventually, your marketing ROI decreases, forcing you to make adjustments to a successful email campaign. This could lead to worse results, poor reach, and lower revenue.

Email Engagement

Poor email hygiene leads to decreased email engagement. When you send messages to invalid email addresses or to people who don’t want them, engagement rates dip. This dismisses your email marketing efforts and makes it hard to maintain meaningful relationships with existing clients.

Proper Email Hygiene: Best Practices

Proper email list hygiene isn’t a time-consuming or costly process. It can easily become an integral part of your marketing efforts. Here are a few tactics you should implement to avoid poor list hygiene and improve your email campaign.

1. Implement Email Verification

When a new user signs up for your services or newsletter, it’s imperative to verify their email address. They could be giving you a fake address to get a freebie or simply making a typo when entering their details.

Email verification is an automated process. You can automatically send a verification email in response to the user’s action. This can help you make sure that you are adding active email addresses to the list.

2. Use Email Validation Services

Even if you work hard to ensure the stellar quality of email addresses on your list, their validity may fade with time. People change email addresses, lose passwords, change email service providers, and more.

By using an email validator, you can check your list regularly to remove inactive email addresses, delete spam trap addresses, catch typos, and check each contact’s validity.

Email validators are fully automated and take only a few minutes to check your list regardless of its size. They fix simple issues and alert you about serious problems so you can check them manually.

Some of the validation service providers offer real-time verification. The program checks the email address as the user types it into the form. This can help with preventing typos and removing invalid email addresses.

3. Remove Inactive Subscribers

Some of the addresses on your email list could be valid without bringing you any benefits. For example, someone subscribed to your list several months ago because they were interested in your products but never made a purchase. Or perhaps, they made one purchase years ago and have never taken action since.

By sending emails to these people, you are wasting your marketing budget. In the worst case, you could be generating spam complaints.

To make sure your old subscribers are still interested in your services, send them re-engagement emails. If they don’t react, remove these addresses from your list.

4. Always Provide Opt-Out Options

According to the CAN-SPAM Act, you are obligated to allow email subscribers to opt-out. Make sure the unsubscribe link is readily available in every email. Don’t try to hide the button because you don’t want people to leave your email list.

In reality, those who want to leave aren’t your target audience. Getting rid of them won’t hurt your marketing campaign. Just the opposite, it will increase the ROI.

5. Review Your Buyer Persona

If you are struggling with poor email deliverability and low open rates, you may not have the right people on your email list. If you are targeting the wrong audience, your email marketing efforts have a lower ROI.

Take the time to review which subscribers send your emails to the junk folder. Use them to create a negative buyer persona. This can help you get a better understanding of your target audience and improve your marketing campaign.

6. Implement Personalization Tactics

If you want to make sure your emails get a response from recipients, you need to implement personalization practices. Today, people are highly sensitive about the lack of personalization. If they get standard generalized emails, they are likely to send them to the spam folder.

Meanwhile, a message that has their name in the subject line and personalized offers in the body is likely to catch their attention. With the right approach to personalization, you can keep active subscribers and re-engage old customers.

7. Focus on Segmentation

If you are catering to several target audiences, don’t stuff all offers into one email. Eventually, such emails may end up in the spam folders, hurting your sender’s reputation and email list hygiene.

Design separate campaigns for each audience and segment your email list accordingly. This can prevent high bounce rates.

Final Thoughts

Email list hygiene is integral to the quality of your marketing campaign. A poor email list can hurt your reputation, decrease marketing ROI, and force you to make bad decisions.

By following the best email hygiene practices, you aren’t just keeping your subscribers happy. You are improving your company’s bottom line.

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