Purge your list – implement email hygiene.

Let’s say your email list has 1,000 contacts. By this time next year, only about 775 of those contacts will be real, verified users. Give it another year and you’ll be down to around 600 engaged contacts, and the list only depletes from there.

According to Hubspot, “email marketing databases naturally degrade at a rate of about 22.5% every year.” In other words, over the course of a year, nearly a quarter of your contacts disengage – either closing their account, abandoning it, or no longer using it for some other reason.

It is not enough to simply implement email acquisition practices to recover the losses of a depleted database. The losses – the disengaged accounts – need to be purged. In order to maintain the most efficient and effective email list, companies must engage in email hygiene.

What is email hygiene?

Email hygiene is the process of removing “bad” email accounts from email lists. These accounts may be from people who switched jobs and closed their old company address, people who switched domains (ex: from aol.com to gmail.com) or people who unsubscribed. Whatever the case may be, their email address should be removed from databases in order to maintain high deliverability rates and a positive reputation.

What makes an email address “bad”?

When discussing email hygiene, it is imperative to understand hard and soft bounces.

When an email cannot be delivered to a subscriber’s inbox for any type of permanent reason, it is classified as a hard bounce. Some permanent reasons can include: sending to an invalid email address, sending to an invalid domain, or subscriber’s server blocks delivery. Addresses with hard bounces should be immediately removed from email lists.

To avoid hard bounces, start by ensuring that every email address on your list is comprised of four mandatory pieces. This includes the user or mailbox name, the @ symbol, the email server name, and the domain name. In the case of contact@thebridgecorp.com, “contact” is the user, “thebridgecorp” is the email server name, and “.com” is the domain.

If any of these four pieces are missing or include typos, it is likely the email sent will result in a hard bounce.

When an email cannot be delivered to a subscriber’s inbox for any type of temporary reason, it is classified as a soft bounce. Some temporary reasons include: subscriber’s email inbox is full, subscriber’s email server is down, or email is too large. Temporary reasons can be resolved and those email addresses can stay on the company’s email list, but the issue should be attended to immediately.

To avoid bounces and ensure that you are sending to real, verified, engaged users, consider implementing a double opt-in. This means that after users subscribe, you send them a follow-up email with an embedded link. Upon clicking, they are again confirming their desire to receive emails from your company. Double opt-ins result in highly engaged, verified subscribers that want to hear from you.

Maintain your reputation.

Keeping current with email hygiene will help your brand maintain a positive reputation among consumers, as well as among email hosts.

Sending to non-existent addresses or to spam folders is very damaging to your IP reputation. When you damage your IP reputation, deliverability among email hosts decreases. Eventually, the cycle repeats itself with increasingly negative effects.

Additionally, email inboxes are becoming more selective about the content allowed to enter. When you have an unclean list, complete with spam traps, unengaged and unknown users, email hosts tend to think you are a spammer. If the host deems your content as spam, your content will be redirected to the spam folder, and likely go unseen by the user. Again, the vicious cycle will repeat itself.

Use email hygiene to your advantage.

With nearly 3 billion email users worldwide, it is imperative to make sure that the emails on your list are real people who want to hear from you. Help email lists work in your favor by cleaning them consistently throughout the course of the year.

To learn more about Bridge’s email hygiene capabilities, contact us.

Elizabeth Bell

Author Elizabeth Bell

Integrated Marketing and Branding Intern

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