Email Cleaning Benefits, Tools, and Recommendations

email cleaning gloved hand with spray cleaner

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Yep. Email cleaning is a thing. Bet you never thought about cleaning your email list. But you should.

As part of a new launch I’m doing, I realized that I had several files with about 6,000 email addresses I had collected in the past.

First, I thought about just ditching these emails because I hadn’t contacted them for a few years. But then, I realized that I could potentially try to bring those folks back. But how?

How can I verify emails and re-engage an email list that I haven’t talked to in a while without being kicked off my email marketing system?

The answer is — to clean my email list. This is also known as email list scrubbing or email verification email validation.

The good news is — there are tools for this. And even better news is that they aren’t as expensive as you think.

Let’s get started.

What is email cleaning?

Email cleaning is the process of removing inactive or invalid contacts from your mailing list. Sounds painful, doesn’t it. After all, you worked so hard to grow your email list.

But here’s the thing.

The average email list has around 60% of inactive contacts.

In other words, more than half of the emails you’ve collected are either invalid and not being delivered.

This is a bad thing. Because it’s costing you money to keep them and it can also hurt your standing with your email marketing service.

The benefits of cleaning your mailing list?

I know it’s tough, but when you think about it, if 60% of your email addresses are either fake or spam or inactive — then they aren’t real people! It’s ok — let them go.

Here’s why:

You’ll have an engaged and responsive audience at your fingertips

A clean email list (no matter how big or small) is a responsive email list. I like to visualize my email list as a group of my favorite people who like me enough to do what I ask, to take my advice and recommendations.

Your emails will get delivered

Email marketing services pride themselves on delivery. If a high percentage of your emails are getting blocked or filtered to the spam folder, that hurts your ability to reach the inbox and your customers. Email verification will identify those emails so you can decide what to do with them.

Your email stats will improve – and so will your relationship with your list

Your email marketing campaign statistics such as open rate and click rate are a function of the total emails sent. So if you have invalid emails such as duplicate emails, disposable emails, or spam emails, your overall email statistics will be much lower than they really are.

Drop in spam complaints: Getting too many spam complaints can have you blackballed from your email service provider. A good email

How do I get rid of invalid email addresses?

There are two ways to get rid of invalid addresses.

First, figure out which email addresses are technically invalid; spam, inactive, unsubscribes, bounced, etc. To do this, you’ll need an email list cleaning service.

Second, once you’re left with real email addresses, you can run a re-engagement campaign asking them if they want to stay on your list or just unsubscribe.

What’s the difference between Email Cleaning, Scrubbing and Email Verification Services?

The idea behind any bulk email validation tool is to remove bad emails from your list. They can be bad for a variety of reasons; spam emails (not valid or not verified as legitimate emails. Bounced emails (not deliverable, hence, not valid).

What is email cleaning? Email list cleaning is the process of regularly updating your email contact list by purging outdated contacts and being responsive to recipient preferences. This is the most general category. Email cleaning can include both email cleaning software as well as a manual process of deleting inactive emails.

What is email verification? Email verification is the process of making sure the emails on your list are tied to an inbox. In other words, it’s making sure that the messages you’re sending have somewhere to go.

What is email validation? Email Validation is a method of verifying if an email address is valid and deliverable. It also confirms if an email address has a reliable domain such as Gmail or Yahoo.

What is email scrubbing? Scrubbing your email list means to take out or delete all the email addresses on your list who never open, read, or interact with your emails. 

The bottom line is that you only want emails that are connected to real people who want to hear from you. Many of these bulk verification tools do more than one of these. So think about what you want to do and choose accordingly.

How often should I clean my email list?

How often you validate your emails depends on the number of new emails you collect at any time period. If you collect 10,000 emails per month on average, you’d want to make email list cleaning a regular part of your marketing process. I’d recommend doing a quarterly email list cleaning.

Email marketers with smaller lists (under 10,000) might only use an email list cleaning software about once per year.

How email scrubbing services work

Email cleaning services are designed to seek out, find and remove invalid email addresses from your list.

Here’s what they are looking for:

Email Address Syntax – These are emails that are obviously misspelled – janedoe@gamil.com or janedoe@yourcompany.con

Role-Based Email Addresses – Emails that start with info@, sales@, support@ — the email list cleaning service will only remove those emails if they are not being delivered.

Disposable Email Addresses – Lots of people will use test emails or disposable emails to keep their inbox clean. These types of addresses expire over time, so they will be deleted.

MX Records – These are email addresses that do not contain required MX records.

Spam Traps – Spam traps, sometimes known as honeypots, are used to detect and track spam emails. These are emails that have never been used before by a user. Anti-spam organizations, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and enterprises use spam traps to trap spammers. 

How to choose an email list cleaning service

Choosing an email list cleaning software or email validation software is really confusing. When you do a search on Google, all you get is lists of dozens of software at all different price point.

screenshot of search for email list cleaning

This makes me completely crazy! There are dozens of articles with dozens of tools and no one tells you how to choose a list cleaning service that’s right for YOU.

Well, since I’m in the process of choosing an email verification service, I’m going to share my journey and help you choose one for yourself.

Since I’m not an email list cleaning expert, but I do understand email marketing, I’m going to be curating my information from the best articles with the best advice.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

Has it been tested? Lots of recommendations on Google are nothing more than a listing of email verification services. It would be nice to see if anyone tested these services to check on their effectiveness.

How easy is it to use? I’m not very technical, so I’m looking for an email cleaning service that lets me upload my email lists from a spreadsheet. Another option is that the email checker connects with my email marketing software directly.

How the pricing works: Most email list cleaning services offer a “pay as you go” pricing plan. I prefer this because my email list is small (less than 100,000) and I’m not cleaning monthly.

How accurate is it? Because this is a bulk email verification, I’d like the results to be as accurate as possible — meaning that it removes BAD emails and keeps good emails.

The Best Email List Cleaning Services

I’ve narrowed things down to the top three email list cleaning services. The next step is to figure out which to try. For some help, I’ve hit GetApp, my favorite software directory to collect some verified reviews, pros and cons of each software.

Zero Bounce

screenshot of zero bounce email verification tool

Zero Bounce is considered the go-to email list cleaning service. It was on every “best email cleaning services” list and has excellent reviews.

What I liked about it:

I like that it’s the standard. That really tells you something. Especially if you aren’t cleaning your list all the time. Might as well use the best.

The pricing is reasonable and affordable. I like that that it’s structured for different list sizes.

Screenshot of zerbo bounce pricing table

99% Accuracy! Zero Bounce claims 99% accuracy. And, based on reviews and expert comparisons, they deliver 99% accuracy.

Security: I didn’t mention security as a key feature, but if you are in a business that has to protect consumer data, this is a must-have.

Gender detection: Another “unknown” but super cool feature. If you’re only collecting emails, how cool would it be to detect the gender of the address? Not just for email personalization, but for understanding your customer demographics.

Integrations: Another thing I like is the ability to integrate with the most popular email marketing tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Aweber – and dozens more!

screenshot of zero bounce email list cleaning integrations

WOW — so ZeroBounce is a great tool. The question I’m asking myself is what’s more important right now; a clean email list or savig money.

Let’s take a look at my two lower-cost alternatives and see if they are better.

Never Bounce

screenshot of never bounce email verification tool

Never Bounce is another great tool for capturing and cleaning invalid email addresses.

What I liked about it

So, what’s the difference between Zero Bounce and Never Bounce? I’m going to take a look at the critical features and see how they compare.

92% Accuracy: Their accuracy is less than Zero Bounce. That means that the bigger your list, the greater chance that it will miss bad emails and scrub good ones.

Security/GDPR: Never Bounce features their GDPR compliant feature. If you have subscribers from Europe, this will be an important feature for you.

Sync functionality: Never Bounce is unique with this synchronization feature. Its email checker works with your email marketing software to keep your list clean.

Integrations: Experts say that Never Bounce is the third highest in terms of integrating with your other email marketing services.

never bounce pricing screenshot

As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference in price between Zero Bounce and Never Bounce.

Your choice is going to come down to what features are most helpful for your business. Which security option is more important for you? Will it be GDPR or general email security?

Another important element is if one email cleaning tool integrates with your particular email marketing software.

As I look through the comparison features compared to the price given the size of my email list, I’m leaning toward Zero Bounce.

Email List Validation

email list validation email cleaning tool

This email cleaning service isn’t as well known as Zero Bounce or Never Bounce. But it’s a definite contender.

Not only that, but I can grab it on AppSumo for a lifetime deal of $59!

What I liked about it

Pricing: Email List Validation is more affordable than Zero Bounce.

email list validation pricing table

99% Accuracy: I wasn’t able to find anyone claiming otherwise. So, I have to take them at their word.

Security: Email List Validation is GDPR compliant.

Sync functionality: Integrates with the most popular email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, HubSpot, SendGrid, ActiveCampaign. BUT, it doesn’t integrate with as many services as Zero Bounce and Never Bounce – so make sure yours is on the list.

My Email Verifier

My email verifier email list cleaning tool

What I liked about it

While My Email Verifier wasn’t listed on every “best email list scrubber” lists, it’s certainly got a lot going for it.

99% Accuracy: My Email Verifier has been community tested and it ranks 1st for the highest accuracy level.

Pricing: My Email Verifier has you purchase credits. It’s 1 credit for each email address. So far, this is the most affordable email list cleaning service. For my list of 6,000, it would cost about $21.

My email verifier pricing table

Customer Support: If you’re not tech savvy My Email Verifier offers highly rated customer service.

Integrations: My Email Verifier currently integrates with only five email marketing services: Mailchimp, GetResponse, AWeber, ConstantConnect, and SendGrid. 

Pabbly Email Verification

Pabbly email list cleaning

Now this is interesting! Most email list cleaning services brag about how quickly they clean and verify your email list — except for Pabbly. Pablby email verification prides itself on taking it’s time.

Pabbly email verification is saying that they take their time so that they can guarantee accurate results;

What I liked about it

99% Accuracy: Unlike other email list cleaning services, Pabbly claims that they manually check each email address. This is why each verification takes about 24 hours.

Integrations: Pabbly boasts integrations with more than 300 different applications. They offer a search for your brand, I wish they offered a complete list by category because I can’t see how many different email marketing software they integrate with. I did see MailChimp, Moosend, Aweber, Constant Contact, Zoho Campaigns (and several other Zoho apps), Keap… and more it seems.

Pricing: If you don’t mind waiting the 24 hours to receive your results, you’re going to love the price. My Email Verification’s price is among the lowest of the bunch.

pabbly email list cleaning pricing table

Pabbly is a different kind of email list cleaning service in that it offers what they call SMTP connections. This means that you can keep all of your emails “clean” including ones you send via Gmail, Amazon SES, SendGrid, MailGun, Elastic Email, etc.

Best Email Cleaning Software Comparison Charts

Here is the comparison chart I put together from GetApp.

email list cleaning comparison chart

For more information and comparison information check out List Cleaning Advice. They also provide a terrific chart of email list cleaning services along with a summary of prices and accuracy percentages.

List cleaning advice comparison chart

Which Email Cleaning Service is Best?

OK, so after all of this research, which email list cleaning service is best?

Here are my recommendations:

Think about which of the outlined features are most important for your business. is it accuracy, bulk validation, eliminating duplicate email addresses or getting your mailing lists cleaned quickly. Pick the most important, must have feature and then a supporting feature.

Best email list cleaning tools by feature

  • Best accuracy – Pabbly
  • Best value – My Email Verifier
  • Best synch with email marketing campaigns – Never Bounce
  • Most popular overall – Zero Bounce

Since each of these services offers some level of “free” trials or tests, I’m going to take them up on it. I’m going to break out my existing email lists into small groups and run each batch through the email list cleaning services that I’ve outlined here. And see which validation service performs the best with the lists I have.

Conclusion

If you’re running a big email campaign, you’ll need to find at least one email list cleaning business that can help you eliminate bogus emails, increase productivity and deliverability, and safeguard your organization from spam and fraud. These tools will undoubtedly save you time by allowing you to quickly sort through hundreds of email addresses instead of manually going through them all.