Email list hygiene…what is it? We hear hygiene and we think of showers, soap, etc. Without email list hygiene we’re not saying your email lists have b.o., but they could figuratively stink.
Let’s break it down before we dig in. Back to basics: what are email lists? We know, we know, this is very basic. But not everyone’s as skilled a marketer as you are…but, we digress. Email lists, simply put, are lists of email addresses your brand has collected.
As an added layer, brands can have one large email list, made up of every subscriber a brand can contact, or they can have many, segmented based on various criteria. Different customers may require different communications, and a good way to start initial individualization efforts is to segment your lists to ensure customers get relevant information.
But, once you have your lists, you have to keep ‘em clean. Let’s explore what that means and why it matters.
Why Email List Hygiene Matters
Keeping a clean email list can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your email strategy. It can impact deliverability, data, metrics, and the overall customer experience.
Deliverability is a critical aspect to any email marketing strategy. It’s essentially whether or not your emails can get to their intended audiences. If your emails aren’t being delivered, there’s no point in developing an email strategy.
Cleaning your email lists can help improve deliverability. Say you have emails on your subscriber lists that no longer exist. The emails you send to those subscribers will bounce. This could then cause email providers to recognize your domain as spam and send all of your emails—even those sent to emails that are still active—to the users’ spam folders.
By cleaning your list—removing those inactive emails—you can improve deliverability and, as a result, improve the authority and reputation of your domain.
If your lists aren’t organized, your emails are being sent to spam, or not being delivered at all, you risk getting inaccurate, unhelpful data in return.
Say, for example, you’re seeing low click-through rates on your store opening emails. Ok, yes, it’s possible people aren’t interested in learning about your new store location, but it’s also possible there are people on that specific list that live nowhere near your new store. The information isn’t relevant to those users—of course they’re not going to click through.
By cleaning your lists, you can ensure that not only are your subscribers’ email addresses correct, but that the messages they are receiving are relevant. This can impact—and improve— your email engagement data and allow your team to focus on strategy, rather than figuring out why numbers aren’t where they should be.
Keeping clean email lists can also help improve the overall customer experience. Think about unsubscribing. Yes, brands are required—by law—to provide easy methods for unsubscribing to marketing emails, but does the unsubscribe button really work?
We all know a brand that continues to send emails long after we’ve opted out of further communications. While it’s hard to see users remove themselves from your email lists, you can always create a strategy for winning them back. But, if their trust in your brand has completely eroded, the chances of getting them back only decrease.
Ensuring that unsubscribed users are actually removed is only one way that cleaning email lists can lead to happy customers.
How Do You Scrub a List Clean?
Now that we’ve covered why email list hygiene is important, let’s cover how to clean a list. It requires no elbow grease so put down the sponge, step away from the soap.
The first step to cleaning your lists is validating email addresses. Like we mentioned earlier, some addresses on your lists could be inactive. To find them, run an email list validation to separate valid from invalid addresses.
You’ll also want to remove duplicate addresses. Multiple email addresses mean there’s the possibility that the same user receives messages more than once, or ends up on multiple lists.
Lastly, consider removing the unengaged subscribers. If someone hasn’t opened an email from you in years, you can likely take them off your list. This timeframe depends on your products and services and overall lifecycle, but don’t worry—if they want to receive your emails, they’ll sign back up. By removing their email they may even become eligible for new customer discounts, which could re-engage them.
Email list hygiene is about making your life easier, as a marketer, and improving your brand’s customer experience. With the right audience on your list you can more easily segment and create individualized campaigns that deliver joy to your end users.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Email list hygiene isn’t a one-and-done task. It’s ongoing. In fact, Email on Acid recommends cleaning your email lists once per quarter—sort of like spring cleaning.
Go ahead and set that calendar reminder now. We’ll wait.
Email lists should be all about quality, not quantity. Clear the cobwebs and get your lists whittled down to those customers who are hungry for your content. Your LTV will thank you.
Once you’ve done your quarterly (or bi-annually, or monthly, etc.) deep clean, the work’s just begun. Now you have to ensure the content you deliver aligns with what your customers—yes, each of them individually—want. Think of a clean email list as a blank canvas. With that squeaky clean list you can start to segment your audience and design journeys that are unique to each customer.
To learn more about email marketing and how you can design unique customer experiences, schedule an Iterable demo today.