Maintaining List Hygiene

Why list hygiene is important, and how to clean an existing list?

Liz Gannes avatar
Written by Liz Gannes
Updated over a week ago

What is list hygiene?

List hygiene consists of removing cold (inactive) contacts from your email campaigns, and keeping the remainder (engaged list). This practice improves your inbox placement rates, while saving your investment as you'll only be paying for, and engaging with your active contacts.

Why list hygiene is important?

Email service providers (ESPs) are continuously reviewing the emails you're sending to the recipients, and the engagement they are having with those emails. Your inbox placement is determined by various factors like your opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam complaints. A poorly maintained list resulting in low engagement is one of the major reasons for your messages getting flagged as spam.

  • Mailable: Mailable contacts are eligible to receive emails. A contact typically becomes mailable by subscribing, or submitting a consent.

  • Unsubscribed: The contact is not eligible to receive emails. A contact becomes unsubscribed by opting out via the email preferences link in your emails, or the contact is not eligible to receive emails.

Clean an existing list

Here’s how you can clean an existing list:

1. Confirm contact consent

Ensure that you're working with a list of mailable contacts, subscribers that still want to hear from you. Confirm a contact's interest by sending a re-engagement email that requires a contact to simply submit a consent or unsubscribe.

2. Remove cold recipients

Delete those contacts that are uninterested, or haven't engaged with your content in 4 months or over.

3. Locate and address the apparent issues

  • Remove any duplicate entries

  • Delete all the fake email addresses

  • Delete any bounced email addresses

  • Delete any email addresses that marked your emails as spam

  • Correct any typing errors in email addresses

  • Remove any role-based addresses from your list (e.g., admin@, support@).

It's much easier to drive conversions, and engagement if your contacts are real.

Maintaining list health

In addition to periodically cleaning the contacts list, you should also ask for feedback from your contacts.

1. Content relevance

It's important to understand what your audience wants, so send them an email asking why they signed up, and what kind of content you can offer.

  • A recipient is far more likely to mark an email as spam, if it is not recognizable, and does not align with what they expected.

  • Set an established sending schedule. Contacts who have not heard from you in a while may not remember signing up for your content or mailing lists. You should stay relevant while not over-communicating.

2. Best Practices

With these best practices, you can deliver value to your contacts, so that they look forward to engaging with your emails, therefore keeping your list warm. Some best practices include:

  • Engage your new subscribers through a welcome email sent after they sign up with a campaign to keep new subscribers from getting cold.

  • Use contact segments to provide tailored emails based on the recipient's attributes and interests.

  • Personalize your content by using merge tags in your email content, including default (e.g., Name, Email, etc.) and custom fields.

3. Performance monitoring

Review the performance of each email that you send. This will help you increment on content that works while addressing issues. For example:

  • A spam complaint on an email will increase your chances of bouncing, or landing in the spam folder for all emails moving forward.

  • A consistent lack of interest among your recipients does damage to your sending reputation. Note down the emails with lower open rates, so you can make adjustments to the content.

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