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Tips for keeping a clean email list

Your email success is heavily dependent on the quality of your email database. So how do you do this? We discuss a few tips to help you get started.


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Spring cleaning isn't limited to your closet

Like a dusty collection of trinkets, the best way to breathe some life into your email lists is to make sure things are kept clean and current.


Not only does this make the administrative task of managing your list a little easier, but you're also preventing skewed stats and paying for subscribers who, frankly, are no longer reading your emails.

So, how do you keep a clean email list? Here are 6 best practice tips to help you get this right.

Tip 1: Make cleaning your lists a habit

The key to a squeaky-clean email database is to have a cleaning routine that you stick to.

Create a schedule for cleaning up your lists. This could be some time spent once per month, for example, by looking at your data quantity and quality.

This will help you determine how often you will have to clean your list in future.

No matter how extensive your list is, if most of your subscribers are not interacting with your emails, try to understand why and begin problem-solving to prevent this from becoming an ongoing problem.

What to look for when assessing your email lists?

  • Check for duplicate email addresses or contacts

  • Check for email address typos (think @gmil for @gmail, etc)

  • Check for email addresses with strange domains or those with the word “spam” in them.

This ensures that your emails are getting sent to the right person and are not bouncing and is a great starting point in your cleaning plan.

Tip 2: Consider double/ confirmed opt-ins

A double opt-in or confirmed opt-in is a way to ensure that your subscribers truly want your emails.

As a quick reminder of how this works, once a subscriber submits their information to your sign-up form, an email is sent to confirm their subscription and membership to your email database. This helps with a few things.


It gets subscribers used to opening your emails and has the added benefit of signalling to their email provider and inbox that your emails should not be automatically marked as spam.

It also allows you to ask these subscribers to save your contact info or mark you as a trusted sender, so emails don’t get sent to junk folders, meaning you win the first part of your email engagement with these database members.


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Tip 3: Manage bounced emails and rates

Checking for bounced emails can keep your email-sending reputation intact and create better email engagement.

Bounced emails happen when there is a typo in the email address, if the email no longer exists, or for several other reasons.

These email bounces are broken down into two categories: Soft bounces and Hard Bounces. You want to ensure that you carefully differentiate between potentially temporary soft bounces and hard bounces, which are a sign that emails will no longer permanently reach such email receivers.

Pull your list of bounced emails after each email is sent, check for typos, errors and, if possible, the reasons for such bounces to help you prevent these from becoming an ongoing issue.

Tip 4: Use email automation strategically

Automation makes list cleaning easier (and quicker)

If your email platform allows this, set up an automated email that fires off if someone enters a segment of inactive or ghosting subscribers (more on ghosting here 👻).

Another way you can use automation is to remove subscribers from email workflows or campaigns that are no longer applicable to them. Ideally, having a segment in your database that caters to inactive subscribers is ideal. Many email platforms have these criteria built in.

You can set your criteria for what an inactive subscriber is and fire off some email content, in an automated fashion, to entice them to engage again. Remember, you want to scale your email efforts to avoid as much manual work as possible. Email automation is key to getting this right.


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Tip 5: Provide an "opt-down" option

Have an “opt-down” option in addition to an "opt-out" option.

What this means is that an “opt-down” option lets your subscribers choose how often and which emails they want to receive from you.

Unfortunately, subscribers often forget that they’ve subscribed to your email lists. This increases the chance that they will delete, unsubscribe, or send your emails straight to the spam folder, which are all actions that should be avoided at all costs. By providing an “opt-down” option, you’re allowing your email audience to stay on your list without them being overwhelmed by receiving emails they no longer want.

Preference centres are ideal in these scenarios as encouraging subscribers to simply opt out means you’re losing the opportunity to continue building on your relationship with them. This also gives subscribers some form of control over the email content they get from you.

Set up controls like these to help keep valuable subscribers while eliminating those who no longer want to or should be receiving your email campaigns.

Tip 6: Remove inactive subscribers

If you've tried to win them back and they aren't engaging, why keep inactive subscribers?

Having engaged subscribers that open, click and reply to your emails will always be beneficial to winning at email.


By removing inactive subscribers, you will drive up your open and click-through rates for your emails, and ultimately, create an audience that is more engaged over the long term.

As mentioned earlier, before you remove inactive subscribers permanently, ideally always try sending them one last email to try to re-engage them.


If this fails, permanently delete these people to not hurt your email deliverability, reputation and conversion rates.



A clean (email) house is always a good thing - Tips for keeping a clean email list in a nutshell


When the success of your email campaigns is reliant on your audience, there's nothing better for email business than having a database of value.


This can only happen if you keep it clean.


Don't neglect the value of this practice and use it to strategically win at email marketing today.



Before you go! You'll need an email list to clean first, won't you? Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by clicking here or on the image below 👇


Preview of the Ultimate Database Growth Playbook for Email by Email Expert Africa

Want more tips like these? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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