How List Hygiene Can Make or Break Your Email Campaign

by | Sep 5, 2014

Your email list is much more than a static list of names. It is a dynamic and constantly evolving tool essential to communicate with your customer base. List hygiene plays a huge role in the success of your email list.

Why List Hygiene Matters

Email marketing revolves around deliverability. The best email campaign is no good if it never gets to the recipient’s inbox. Email providers like Yahoo and Gmail take note of bounce rates and flag IPs as spam if the bounce rate is too high.

Bad names on your list increase your bounce rate and put you at the risk of getting flagged as spam. This is an email marketer’s worst nightmare.

Put a list hygiene routine in place to avoid these headaches. Think of how you have to get your oil changed on your car every 3000 miles for the engine to function at its optimal level.

It is the same concept with list hygiene. In order for your list to function at its highest level you need to regularly rid your lists of:

  • Role names such as “” or “”
  • Inactive names
  • Misspelled names
  • Data entry errors

6 Ways to Use List Hygiene

Most see list hygiene as a chore. The reality is the right approach to list hygiene has a huge effect on the sustained success of your email marketing campaign.

1. Set a time period for “inactive users”. Conventional wisdom says 6 months since the last response is the standard amount of time to wait before considering an address inactive.

2. Have a re-engagement plan in place. Have an email you send to accounts with a couple of months of inactivity to find out how they are doing and see if you get a response.

3. Be diligent. Some warning signs of a list in need of cleaning are subtle. A drop in your deliverability statistics can be the result of bad data.

4. Bigger is not better. Don’t get discouraged when you see your list shrink. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development cut its list by 47% and saw an increase in both open rates and conversions. A list which is too big becomes too difficult to manage without some data slipping through the cracks.

5. Use a double opt-in. An effective way to eliminate spam accounts at the point of collection is to use a double opt-in. Have a welcome email and ask for a response to ensure a real person has signed up with a legitimate email address.

6. Use list segmentation as a complimentary strategy. List segmentation groups users together based on shared characteristics. Have your list segmented by frequency of engagement to make tracking inactive users simple.

Grandmother’s sage advice saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is also a saying every email marketer should apply to their email list. A clean list generates more conversation with qualified leads and gets your message in front of the right eyes. Make it part of your routine today.