Here’s another DIYMarketers community question ?–

Dear Ivana -?

HELP! I’ve been building an email list for the last several years, but I have to admit, I haven’t been consistent and haven’t really been communicating with my list. My open rates are rather low and don’t even ask about click through’s or conversions. I’m depressed. Have I killed my list? What should I do?

— Email List Killer


Email marketing is one of the oldest online marketing strategies being used today. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that it remains one of the most effective forms of online marketing. Consider this – for every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. You have to admit that this is pretty impressive; however, you’re only going to get results like this if you put the effort into maintaining your email marketing list. In addition to regularly sending out segmented emails, you need to on a semi-regular basis as well.

Why do You Need to Clean Your Email List?

You want there to be a lot of emails on your email list. The more emails you have, the more potential leads you have that you can nurture, right? This is somewhat true, but that doesn’t mean that more is always better. If you’ve been marketing through email for a few years without having gone through your email list to clean it, then odds are your list contains a lot of dead weight. There’s a good chance some of those emails no longer work, whether it’s because the email’s owner has closed his or her account or because that email never worked to begin with (it’s not uncommon for people to provide false email addresses). Or, some of the people on your list simply lost interest in your business. There’s a number of reasons you should get rid of these emails:

  • You’re wasting your time trying to nurture uninterested leads or non-existent leads.
  • Because your list is filled with non-working or non-responsive email addresses, it’s going to throw off your ability to analyze your email marketing efforts, which means your numbers are going to be off.

How Can You Clean Your Email List?

Now that you know why you need to clean your email list periodically, let’s go over how you accomplish this. The following are a few tips for cleaning up your email list and removing non-working or non-responding email addresses:

  • Clean up hard bounces – Hard bounces are emails that have returned without being opened. This usually means that the email address is no longer working (or never worked to begin with). Many email marketing software providers provide tools that automatically remove hard bounces from your list.
  • Look for fake or misspelled emails – Go through your list manually. There’s a chance that some of your subscribers have misspelled their email addresses, whether by accident or on purpose. These emails are usually invalid. Look for misspellings of “.net” or “.com” as well as email addresses that are missing the “@” symbol. Email addresses that use numbers for the name and domain are usually invalid as well. Look for these email addresses and delete them from your list.
  • Remove any casualties – Casualties refer to email addresses linked to company accounts. Since these are not personal email addresses, they probably aren’t valuable to you. Go through your email list and look for keywords such as “admin,” “webmaster,” and “helpdesk.” These should probably be removed.
  • Re-engage unresponsive emails – There are some email addresses that will be working just fine but won’t be getting any engagement. If you’re sending emails to a recipient who isn’t bothering to open them or doesn’t click on any of the links within the email content, then try to re-engage with that recipient before deleting their email address as a lost cause. There’s no point in continuously sending emails to someone who is no longer interested in your brand. When trying to re-engage with unresponsive email recipients, be sure to keep your emails concise and to the point. Inform them about your latest ideas and let them know you want to have a conversation with them in order to show that you still care about them.
  • Segment your email list by engagement – Most email marketing platforms will allow you to segment your email list by engagement. This will make it much easier to clean your email list in the future since you’ll be able to spot which email recipients are responding to your efforts and which ones are not.

It doesn’t take too long to clean your email list. Doing so will help keep you organized as well as make it easier to analyze your email marketing strategy. It’s usually not necessary to clean your email list too often. Once you’ve gone through your email list and cleaned it, it should be in good shape for a period of time. Just be sure to go through your email list on a somewhat periodic basis to keep your list nice and tidy. For additional advice concerning your company’s online marketing efforts, be sure to contact us at DIY Marketers today.