Do you remember the last time you cleaned out your email list? Spring cleaning doesn’t just refer to your home or closet– it can also refer to your email subscribers.

While we love to think our loyal email subscribers stick with us to the bitter end, the reality is email lists actually decline up to 20%-30% every single year. That’s right, yearly you could experience a quarter of your list dropping off and contributing to your bounce rate (or worse, your emails could be going straight into the spam folder)! Having a healthy email marketing strategy means cutting your losses and working with your active email list going forward. 

Scrubbing your email list is an absolute essential practice, but you don’t have to feel any shame if you’ve never done it. There’s always a first time for everything, so allow us to guide you through your first email scrubbing experience. Let’s discuss why scrubbing your email list is such an important process for any business, when it’s time to start scrubbing and how you can start the process and leave with a healthier email subscriber list.

If you’ve been troubleshooting your business’s email marketing holes, it’s time to stop sweating your strategy and start focusing on scrubbing your email list. Let’s dive in!

Why Email List Scrubbing Is Important

Why is email list scrubbing important? This may seem like quite the redundant question, but since email scrubbing removes inactive email subscribers from your list, naturally you’ll want to clean things up to make sure your campaigns are sent to an active audience.

But the benefits of email list scrubbing go beyond removing inactive subscribers. For starters, it can automatically improve your open, response and bounce rates without having to do any other maintenance to your current email marketing strategy. With fewer inactive subscribers, you can ensure your emails are being sent to the right people — those who will open your campaigns and see what your business has to offer.

And speaking of email bounce rates, scrubbing your email list means fewer campaigns being viewed as spam. This could also mean fewer complaints about your emails coming in as spam, helping you narrow down your target audience for your campaigns and learn more about how your emails are performing with an active subscriber list. 

Now let’s say you scrub your email list and your email campaigns are still not performing up to par with what you’d like to see. This now gives you a clean slate to workshop your current strategy while being able to rule out inactive subscribers as a problem. 

And finally, if you are a business that pays for email marketing services, you can save money by scrubbing your email list. Many marketing services or agencies charge clients based on the number of subscribers in their email list. By scrubbing your email list to active subscribers, you’re able to cut down the costs of your current marketing service fees. 

I bet you didn’t know something as easy as email list scrubbing could provide your business with so many benefits. But all in good time — scrubbing your email list should only be done when the timing is right and your list is in need of it. So when is the best time to start scrubbing?

When To Start Scrubbing Your Email List

Scrubbing your email list provides a lot of benefits, but only when it’s done at the right time. You want to reap all the benefits of a good scrub, but if your email list isn’t in need of one, you won’t see as much of a return as you would when the timing is right. So what signs should you look for in an unhealthy, “scrubbable” mailing list?

The very first sign of an unhealthy subscriber list is a vast drop off of open and click-through rates. Fluctuation is normal, and a minor decrease could be due to a multitude of reasons, such as email strategy to send out times and more. However, if you’re noticing your open rates consistently declining or remaining low, it’s a good sign that your emails are being sent to subscribers who are no longer active.

An influx of hard bounces is also a sign that your email list is in need of proper attention. A hard bounce indicates that an email has been returned to sender because the email address is either inactive for a number of possible reasons or has been deleted. Hard bounces are a clear sign that an email address should be removed from a subscriber list as soon as possible so that they no longer affect marketing statistics moving forward.

Once these steps have been taken, you’ll want to get a bit more granular with your analysis and take a look at individual email campaigns. Individual email campaign statistics show you the campaigns that are giving you spam complaints or lower click-through rates, which can allow you to scrub out subscribers who no longer meet the requirements to be a part of your present target audience or who are no longer interested in your email content. 

Knowing when it’s time to start scrubbing your email list is vital to making the changes you need in a timely manner. So now that we know the when and the why, it’s time to scrub your email list.

How To Properly Scrub Your Email List

Follow this step-by-step guide to start properly scrubbing your email list for more accurate marketing results: 

Step 1: Segment your current subscriber list into active and inactive

Your first step is to divide and conquer. If you’re a business that keeps its subscribers segmented into multiple mailing lists, choose one list to start with. Pick the one that you feel needs the most work or yields the most engagement results. By dividing your list into active and inactive subscribers, you reduce your work and direct your efforts toward subscriptions that need to be re-engaged or removed.

Your activity benchmark is entirely up to you; however, a good starting point is to segment your list based on the subscribers who have opened your emails within the last 90 days. This gives you enough time to really make sure those inactive subscribers are truly not responding or opening your emails. 

Step 2: Run your inactive list through cleaning software

Once you’ve gone through the process of rounding up your “problem children” in your email list, you can then use scrubbing software to dig deeper into your inactive list and narrow it down to salvageable subscribers. 

Scrubbing software allows you to run your inactive email list and automatically have inactive email addresses removed. It also separates low-quality subscribers from high-value contacts you may want to focus on re-engaging with. Scrubbing software can range in price, with some offering free features to give you a taste of their value. 

Here are three email scrubbing resources we recommend looking into:

  1. Kickbox – Kickbox allows you to start your scrub for free and even provides you with high-value data about the overall health of your email list. It offers 100 free verifications — which is perfect if you’ve separated out your active subscribers already and only want to run your inactive list. After that, it charges $5 for 500 verifications.
  1. Mailbox Validator – Mailbox Validator offers a free trial of its services and also features a wide list of email integrations to make scrubbing your list that much easier. Their “Bulk Trial” offers 100 free verifications, and paid plans start at around $20.
  1. EmailListVerify – EmailListVerify offers integration with many software products, including MailChimp — very popular email marketing software among small and large businesses. It also offers 100 verifications for free, allowing users to upload their “dirty” email list and download a sparkling clean one once the process is completed. EmailListVerify pricing starts at just $4 for 1,000 verifications, making it the most cost-friendly option of the three. 

Step 3: Deliver a re-engagement email campaign to inactive subscribers

Export your clean email list and analyze the results for email subscribers who have not been engaging with your campaigns. This is a great time to get them back on board with your marketing efforts.

There are a couple of different ways to structure your re-engagement campaign for inactive email subscribers. The first option is to send out a “we miss you” campaign, usually with a small deal or discount to reel them back in. These types of campaigns work wonders for E-commerce stores that sell products instead of individual services or quotes on services, such as home renovation as an example. 

You can also use informational campaigns or provide value to your inactive subscribers within your re-engagement campaign if you do not solely want to focus on a discount code. These emails work well with businesses that offer more than E-commerce or maybe offer a service that doesn’t revolve around product sales. Here’s an example of a more informative email campaign: 

Re-engagement campaigns are a last-chance effort to gain back some of your subscriber list before the dreaded purge comes. 

Step 4: Scrub from your list inactive subscribers who do not re-engage 

Once you’ve given your re-engagement campaign enough time to sink in with inactive subscribers (this can vary depending on your business or industry), it’s time to cut the deadweight once and for all

Analyze your re-engagement campaign and search for those subscribers who have not contributed to its click-through rate. You can even put these subscribers into a spreadsheet and have them segmented to properly organize where they best fit. Consider the following questions to help you segment your list: Did they interact? Did they just open the email? Did they engage? Your inactive subscribers will be known as “Cold Subscribers” and can either be scrubbed away once more or filtered into a new email list dedicated to reviving these cold leads. 

Step 5: Celebrate your hard work

Do we even have to explain this step? You’ve done a lot to enhance your email marketing strategy and it shows — go take some deserved time to celebrate!

Keeping your list clean and healthy is the best way to ensure your email campaigns are delivered to the audience that matters most to your business. Come back to this blog every six to 12 months when your scrubbing needs updating, and you’ll be in the clear and onto better email statistics in no time.