September 13, 2021

Out With the Old, In With the New: How to Clean Up Your Email List

Have you ever stood in front of your packed closet and instead of cleaning it out, you spent 10 minutes trying to locate the item you want to wear? Your closet is bursting at the seams because maybe you don’t have time to clean it out or you’re afraid to give up items. Regardless of the reason, your cluttered closet is only holding you back.

The same can be said for your overflowing email lists that accumulate over time. Sure, there are many reliable addresses in your list, but inactive, incorrect, and old emails are only weighing you down. You should be cleaning up your list often to bolster the best email results.

Tell Me About Email Scrubbing

Cleaning up your email list is often referred to as email scrubbing. In true Marie Kondo fashion, you’re actively cleaning up your list to produce a leaner, healthier audience that should spark joy. Instead of sending emails to the 20,000 people on your list with only 5,000 of them engaging, you should clean up your audience to only include those 5,000 subscribers that are actually reading your emails.

Why Should I Clean My Email List?

You may be looking over your email list and thinking, “Well, I don’t have that problem! I have a healthy list.” But, if you’ve inherited an email list or have been growing your list for at least a year, it could use a little TLC. Here are 4 reasons why you should consider cleaning your email.

Reduce Your Email Marketing Costs

Almost all email marketing platforms are priced based on the size of your list. If you are only really reaching and engaging with half of your contacts, why would you pay for double that? Trimming down your list to the most important and engaged followers will ensure that you pay the right price while increasing conversions. Plus, return-on-investment on your email marketing efforts can be better calculated with an accurate price on time spent and money paid for your tools.

Capture Accurate Reporting

Speaking of accurate information, measuring the success of your email campaigns is done through engagement metrics such as open rate, click rate, subscribe rate, and unsubscribe rate. When you have inactive or unreachable emails in your total, these numbers are skewed as they are measured against the total number of email addresses in your list, regardless of if they are engaged or not.

Sending communications to a lean and scrubbed list will clue you into which styles of emails resonate with your audience, what time is best to send emails, and you’ll have more accurate AB testing.

Improve Reputation

When you clean your list and remove inactive subscribers, you will decrease the number of spam reports filed against you. If someone only signed up to redeem an offer and gets frustrated with the number of emails you send, they can flag you for spam. This hurts your credibility with email providers like Gmail and Outlook, creating distrust from you for future emails. Reduce your chances of ending up in “email jail,” aka the spam folder, and implement email clean-up regularly.

Prepare for New Trends

Finally, having a lean, reliable email list helps to prepare you for changes in your industry or the digital world. Recently, Apple announced big changes to its email privacy policy in its upcoming iOS 15 roll-out, which will deal a huge blow to open rates. Apple will download emails to their server if a customer is using the mail app on their phone, iPad, or Mac computer, producing a completed open on the reporting side, even if the user didn’t open the email at all. According to Litmus, 58.4% of desktop users use the Apple Mail app exclusively for receiving emails.

By cleaning on a routine basis, you can pivot your strategy with much more ease and protect your ability to exceed your email goals.

Ok, But When Do I Scrub?

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that email scrubbing is a huge benefit to the success of your email strategy. Now you’re probably wondering at what frequency should you be cleaning your contacts? While there is no hard and fast rule to this, the recommendation is to clean your list at the rate it’s growing. If you are gaining thousands of new subscribers each month, definitely expect to schedule cleaning more frequently. At a minimum, you should schedule email clean-up on a bi-annual or annual basis.

How to Clean Up Your List

The good news — email scrubbing can be pretty simple! While it requires a strategy and some time, the payoff is huge.

Remove Unsubscribed and Cleaned Emails

An easy way to get started with email scrubbing is to remove unsubscribed and cleaned emails. These users have either willingly let you know they no longer want your emails or are unreachable. Go ahead and remove these contacts from your list.

Segment Based on Engagement Levels

Next, you’ll want to group your list based on engagement with your campaigns. If you send emails on a weekly basis, you’ll want to group those users that haven’t opened an email in the past 2 months. On the other hand, if you only send a monthly newsletter, your criteria for low engagement will be extended over a longer period of time.

Programs like Mailchimp do a great job of grading your contacts and segmenting them based on how likely they are to engage with your emails. We recommend grouping the least active users into two segments: sometimes engaged and rarely engaged.

Create Dedicated Campaigns for Least Active

Finally, the most time-intensive part of the process involves crafting email language based on the parameters that you segmented your least active users with. Some examples of re-engagement emails are:

You can set up automations or rules if someone doesn’t act on these emails to either send them a last chance email or segment them into a group to then remove them.

Upgrade Your Email Marketing With PHOS

By cleaning up your email list, you can better plan, create, and send emails that help further your marketing efforts and business goals. At PHOS, your team of marketers is here to help you create a lean list of potential and current customers, plan email campaigns, and measure the success of your email marketing.

Ready to upgrade your emails? Chat with us today!

Bailey Revis

Bailey is dedicated to infusing joy into every single touchpoint she has at PHOS with team members, clients, and our community. As Director of Marketing, she oversees our incredible team of marketers, supporting them as they foster great relationships and exceed our clients’ goals.

Outside of PHOS, you’ll likely find Bailey talking non-stop about Taylor Swift, enjoying an abundant amount of cold brew, curating incredibly niche Spotify playlists, or chasing sunsets.