by Anna Wybieralska Apr 24, 2017

As email marketers, we're all guilty of wanting to keep every last hard earned email address on our list for all time, but that's not the best approach for optimal delivery results.

It feels good to have thousands and thousands of email addresses on your list, doesn't it? So many contacts! So many opportunities to reach out to people and tell them about what you're selling or sharing. As email marketers, we're all guilty of wanting to keep every last hard-earned email address on our list for all time, but that's not the best approach for optimal delivery results.

It's pretty much a guarantee that you've got one or several types of addresses on your lists that are actually reducing the chances that your good contacts will even open your mail. A bunch of old, role, stale or invalid addresses can drastically impact your sender reputation and can mean that even your engaged readers don't get your mail because ISPs start to see your mail as spam.

Here are 5 tips to follow if you want to maintain email list hygiene on a great level. Remember, that your healthy contacts will benefit a lot from it.

1. Don't get too attached to old addresses

We've mentioned this before on our blog, but we still see a lot of senders take their 12-year-old list and just sign up and "blast" these old email addresses with their campaign. You know what happens right? That account ends up getting stopped because the invalid rate is so high. You can't use your Elastic Email account to 'clean' up your old list just to see who might open your mail.

If you want to simply see what addresses are still even valid, you need to invest in a service that is designed to do that, here is an example. Email addresses can become old very fast, people change jobs, names, events end and begin, the average email address can become "old" within 6 months.

You need to remove or verify (using a service, not your Elastic Email account) any address that you have not sent to in 6 months or more.

2. Role addresses are okay, right? No.

If you take a look at your list and realize that you've padded it with a few role type addresses then you need to remove them. Role addresses are generic email contacts that usually take the form of the following - info@something.com, admin@something.com, help@something.com, support@something.com, staff@something.com and so on.

Don't send it to role addresses. In many cases, these types of addresses indicate that your list may be scraped directly from public sources on the internet when you should be building your list by using proper double opt-in functions. In addition, email sent to role addresses is often not opened and this doesn't improve your sender reputation, or improve your sales. This is an important rule of maintaining email list hygiene.

3. Stale contacts are not old contacts

They might be, but there's a little difference between stale and old - a stale contact might be an address that just signed up a month ago on your double opt-in form, but for some reason, that recipient is just not engaging (opening or clicking) with your mail.

It's tempting to keep sending to stale contacts because one of these days they just MIGHT open your mail - but... they probably won't. Stale contacts are dragging your overall stats down - find out more and how to fix this problem here.

4. Hotmail or hotmiall? Gmail or gmailll?

A misspelled email address will not reach the inbox - ever. If you purposefully or lazily send to what you know to be obviously incorrect email addresses it will cost you money and hurt your sender reputation. Take some time to run through your list (or again, use a service) to remove contacts that are not spelled correctly.

5. Maintain email list hygiene by eliminating duplicates and bounced addresses

Fortunately, when you upload your lists to Elastic Email, our system will remove duplicate addresses which give you a more accurate picture of how many unique contacts you have and avoids sending multiple emails to the same recipient. In addition, our platform will help you remove addresses that hard bounce. Any hard bounced addresses are automatically removed from your active sending lists and the status of those addresses is changed to a blocked or invalid state. It is recommended that you keep your blocked (invalid) lists intact on your account. With this record of bounced email addresses, you can prevent accidentally sending to an address that previously bounced or complained.

A little list of hygiene goes a long way to improving your overall delivery, sender reputation, engagement, and ultimately your sales. So, take a breath and just say goodbye to all those contacts that aren't doing you any favors - make some room for new recipients that are ready to welcome your marketing emails.

Anna Wybieralska

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