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Why You Should Care About Email Hygiene


I’m sure you learned growing up the importance of hygiene. When you were a kid, your parents probably drilled into your head the importance of keeping yourself clean (making sure you wash your hands, bathe regularly, and change your clothes) and maintaining a clean living space (doing things like putting your dishes in the sink, cleaning up spills, and putting your dirty clothes in the hamper). We’re here to talk to you about the importance of a different type of hygiene: email hygiene.

Understanding The Importance of Email Hygiene

Email hygiene is the process of removing any “bad” email accounts from your business’ email lists. These “bad” emails affect your bounce rate: that is, the total percentage of emails sent that weren’t delivered successfully.

By cleaning and maintaining your lists, you can minimize the number of unsuccessful emails sent. And, it’s important to do this. When you do, you will have:

  • Better open and click rates
  • Reduced sending costs from your email marketing provider
  • Better targeting and relationship-building opportunities
  • Increased revenue opportunity
  • More accurate measurements of your email campaign’s success

Failing to do so will not only allow you to miss out on all of the perks listed above, but you’ll have a much greater likelihood of being blacklisted by email hosts.This tends to happen when your lists get too “dirty” - your IP’s reputation plummets, and your email communications start going immediately into the recipients’ spam folder.

And, don’t think your business won’t be affected by this:

  • ISP’s consider 95% of emails to have no value
  • Email databases naturally decay by about 22.5% each year
  • 73% of companies have issues with email deliverability
  • 60% of subscribers in an email list are inactive

As you can see, email hygiene is very important to your business’ email marketing efforts. It’s best to get started narrowing down your lists as soon as possible.

Evaluating and Maintaining Your Lists

When first starting to narrow down your lists, you should start with removing the hard bounces. A hard bounce occurs because an email address is closed or invalid. This may occur when a company closes, an employee leaves, or a company switches email servers. You can immediately remove any emails whose issues are unresolvable: if an employee leaves the business, their personal business email will no longer be used. If you think there is a typo or if you appear to be having a problem with an entire business’ email server, try contacting the person or business in question via phone to see if the issue can be resolved.


Consider using BriteVerify to verify that an email exists.


Next, work to resolve the issues with soft bounces. Soft bounces are temporary issues that affect your bounce rate that may occur if the recipient’s inbox is full, their email server is temporarily down, or the email in question is too large. You shouldn’t need to remove these individuals from your list, but make note of any issues occuring that need to be looked into.

After that, decide whether or not you want to include “role” accounts in your lists. Role accounts indicate departmental accounts such as sales@, support@, and info@. In many cases, these accounts will not engage with the emails you send them because they are managed by more than one person. Evaluate whether or not these emails are engaging with your communications, and consider removing the ones that don’t.

Finally, take a look at the inactive non-responders. These inactive recipients negatively impact your metrics. To mediate this, you can run a “wake the dead” or re-engagement campaign that encourages these recipients to engage with what you send them. You can choose to include language that requests that they opt-out of receiving further emails from you if they are not interested. If they do not, you should consider removing them from your lists yourself after an extended period of inactiveness because they are hurting your metrics.

Best Practices for Long Term Success

Going through and evaluating the emails on your list isn’t enough. For further success, consider the following:

  • Be diligent when entering emails: When a new email is added to one of your lists, make sure it has the four key pieces of an email: the user’s mailbox name, the @ sign, the name of the email server, and the domain name. Check ones that are automatically added to your system as well. Make sure there are no apparent spelling mistakes.
  • Implement double opt-ins: For any list you have that is compiled of people who choose to opt-in, implement a double opt-in into your strategy. This involves sending an email confirmation that asks them to click on a link that confirms their subscription to your content. This helps ensure that only the people who genuinely want to receive communications from you are.
  • Include an unsubscribe option: In addition to being required to do so by federal law, doing this helps you maintain your lists because the people who aren’t regularly engaging with your content remove themselves from your list.
  • Avoid letting your list go cold: A “cold” email list is a list that hasn’t been contacted in at least four months. Allowing this to occur is bad email etiquette. Try to commit to regular email communication with that list on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the type of list.
  • Use a quality email marketing provider: A good email marketing provider can do some of your list maintenance for you. For example, MailChimp automatically tags the hard bounces you received as cleaned and doesn’t count them as part of your email quota. However, you should still review these emails to see if you can resolve any of the issues.  

The bottom line of your email marketing is that you need to share things that your recipients will find intriguing, enough so that they won’t want to unsubscribe from your updates. This involves crafting a good subject line that encourages the recipient to open the email, content that is personalized to the recipient, and visually attractive copy that is mobile-friendly. If you don’t, you’ll struggle to receive success with your email campaigns, regardless of how clean your lists are.

You can count on us for assistance in making sure you have the right content to share, so feel free to contact us for help.

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