If you’re investing time and money into email marketing, then you need to prioritize maintaining a high quality email marketing list. Email marketing professionals refer to this ongoing process as list cleansing or list hygiene, and it refers to removing all email addresses from your list that could negatively affect your results.
Why List Hygiene is So Important to Email Marketing Success
There are two key reasons why list hygiene is so important for email marketing. First, if you’re not sending messages to a clean list, you’re likely wasting a lot of time and effort and seeing lower performance metrics than you could be seeing.
Low quality lists include a variety of email addresses that are undeliverable, disengaged, or even spam traps. If you continue sending to those email addresses, not only will your results be poor but also, your domain reputation will deteriorate over time.
That leads to the second reason list hygiene is so important – to ensure your future email messages are delivered to inboxes rather than to spam.
How a Low Quality List Affects Your Email Deliverability and Results
Email service providers (ESPs – like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Apple, etc.) set up elaborate algorithms to detect whether or not email senders are sending content that people actually want or not. A lack of engagement or negative engagement with your messages (e.g., never opening them, deleting them without opening, marking them as spam, blocking you as a sender) shows ESPs you’re not sending content people want.
As a result, your domain reputation (also referred to as sender reputation) decreases. As your domain reputation decreases, so does the number of your messages that go to the inbox. Instead, ESPs start to associate your domain with spam and more and more of your messages will go to recipients’ spam or junk folders until you take steps to repair your domain reputation.
How to Cleanse Your Email Marketing List
A critical part of building successful email marketing programs is to clean your list on an ongoing basis by removing disengaged and problematic email addresses.
Keep in mind, engagement is a very big piece of the puzzle in terms of list cleansing and getting your email messages to inboxes, but it’s not the only piece. To ensure your list is high quality, you also need to remove hard bounced email addresses, unsubscribed email addresses, and spam trap email addresses.
To sum it up, you need to clean your list of the following problem addresses to protect your deliverability and get the best results from your email marketing investments:
Remove Disengaged Email Addresses
Contacts who have not engaged with your messages should be removed from your email marketing list. There is no specific “rule” as to when disengaged contacts should be removed from a list. It depends partially on how often you send messages to them, whether you’re sending to an opt-in list or not, and more.
A simple rule-of-thumb is to assume after you’ve contacted someone multiple times (e.g., five times) with no engagement, move them to the disengaged status and try to re-engage them in the future (e.g., six months).
Remember, a lack of engagement hurts your domain reputation, so you need to monitor recipient engagement with your messages and proactively remove disengaged contacts from your mailings to protect your domain and deliverability in the future.
Remove Hard Bounced Email Addresses
There are two categories of email bounces – soft and hard. Soft bounces are delivered when an email address is temporarily unavailable to accept messages. For example, you could get a soft bounce on an email address if the recipient’s inbox is full. Soft bounces don’t need to be removed from your email marketing lists because they should work again in the future.
Hard bounces are delivered when an email address is permanently undeliverable. For example, this may happen if the email address isn’t valid or something is wrong with it. Hard bounces should be removed from your email marketing list as soon as possible because they will never work.
Furthermore, if you send messages to hard bounce addresses, ESPs will assume you’re not bothering to clean your lists, and your domain reputation and deliverability will go down.
Remove Spam Trap Email Addresses
If you buy an email marketing list from a low quality source, it may include spam trap email addresses that could hurt your domain reputation and deliverability. You only have to send to one spam trap email address to immediately hurt your reputation.
There are two kinds of spam trap email addresses that should be removed from your email marketing lists immediately: recycled spam traps and honeypot spam traps:
- Recycled Spam Traps: Email addresses that were valid and belonged to someone at some point in time but have since been abandoned and become spam addresses.
- Honeypot Spam Traps: Also called pristine spam traps, these email addresses never belonged to anyone. ESPs created them to catch spammers using robots to crawl websites and scrape email addresses. ESPs hide these addresses on websites to catch scrapers and people who buy low quality lists.
Sending to recycled spam traps shows ESPs your list quality is low and your reputation, and deliverability will go down. Sending to honeypot spam traps shows ESPs you’re sending to scraped, low quality lists, and your domain reputation will tank instantly. As a result, your future messages won’t get to inboxes and your email marketing results will suffer significantly.
List Hygiene and the Cannabiz Media License Database
When you use the Cannabiz Media License Database to send email marketing campaigns to cannabis and hemp industry license holders, you don’t have to worry about list hygiene because most of the process is handled for you automatically. Let’s take a look at each process:
How Cannabiz Media Handles Disengaged Email Addresses
Cannabiz Media automatically puts email addresses that have not engaged with your past five messages in an undeliverable status, so you can’t email them again until they engage with one of your previous messages or six months go by.
If you’d prefer to control this process more conservatively, you can use custom disengagement and re-engagement tags to move email addresses on and out of your lists, but you can always feel confident that no email address will receive a sixth message until they’ve engaged with one or more of the previous five messages you’ve sent to them.
How Cannabiz Media Removes Hard Bounce Email Addresses
Cannabiz Media removes any hard bounce email addresses from the License Database, so this part of the process is taken care of for you without any intervention on your part.
How the Cannabiz Media License Database Has No Spam Trap Email Addresses – Ever
Since the email addresses in the Cannabiz Media License Database are not scraped from websites or purchased from third parties (they’re all obtained and verified by our team of human researchers through reliable sources), you don’t have to worry about spam traps. There aren’t any in the License Database.
Key Takeaways about the Importance of Using a Clean Email Marketing List
Email marketing success depends on a combination of the right audience, the right content, the right call-to-action, and the right timing. However, all of your efforts are wasted if you’re not sending messages to a clean list.
That’s because your domain reputation and your deliverability will decline if you send messages to “bad” email addresses. Therefore, only send to trustworthy, clean lists for your email marketing to be successful.