Email List Hygiene: It’s Time to Start Spring Cleaning

email lists

It’s that wonderful time of year again when cold gray skies start to transition into warm sunshine, when the howl of harsh winter wind is replaced by the sound of birds chirping and cluttered corners are cleared of dust and cobwebs. As winter gives way to spring it’s time to start thinking about that dreaded spring cleaning…not necessarily cleaning your home, but spring cleaning your email lists!

Email list hygiene is an important best practice for any email program. It allows you to clear out the old and make way for the new. It is widely encouraged that email lists be “cleaned” at least once every six months to help improve deliverability and overall tracking metrics. Don’t do your email marketing campaigns a disservice by staying trapped in the winter lull; instead, follow these three helpful tips on how to properly scrub those email lists.

1. Remove Inactive Subscribers

Take a look at your engagement metrics and remove anyone who has not opened an email in the past six months. If people aren’t engaging with your emails, then stop sending to them, especially since ISPs take these metrics into consideration to determine delivery.

If it’s really just too hard to let go of those unengaged subscribers, create a re-engagement campaign. Direct these subscribers to a landing page and ask them to confirm their interest in receiving future email communications from you. This will also help to weed-out any invalid email addresses that have made their way onto your list.

2. Remove Bounced & Invalid Email Addresses

It happens more often than you think, all of the sudden your deliverability rate starts to deviate further and further away from 100 percent. Take a minute to look at the bounce rate for the list. Most email marketing platforms will flag an email address as undeliverable after three bounces, which is a good thing. This ensures that those inboxes will not continue to be hounded and it helps with your overall deliverability metrics. Also, it is beneficial to use a data checker or email validation at sign-up to account for user error or common typos.


Easy come, easy go. While you may see immediate benefits from a purchased list, the majority of the subscribers will not remain engaged in the long run. These people are more likely to hit the spam button first and ask questions later. Rather than purchasing lists, develop a sure-fire list building campaign to gather some fresh subscribers.