Why and How to Clean Email Lists

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Why and How to Clean Email Lists

July 20, 2022

Email list cleaning is the process that involves removing inactive and inaccurate data from your email database. A clean email list will keep your email engagement with your existing and potential customers high and your spam rates low. It also increases email deliverability, opens, clicks, and conversions.

If your email campaigns aren’t getting the proper engagement or they’re not reaching your clients’ inboxes, then you are in need of some email list cleaning. To keep your email list clean you must remove contacts who are uninterested, irrelevant or disengaged. If you haven’t done this, then it’s time to get rid of those emails by either cleaning your email database manually or automatically. 

Why you should keep your email lists clean and updated?

If your email subscribers aren’t getting your emails or when people unsubscribe from your email list and if your emails get marked as spam, then your email deliverability rate will suffer. When you send emails to your subscribers you will get to know how many of your subscribers are opening your email and clicking on a link through open and click through rates.  By keeping your email list clean you can connect with your target audience, and reduce spam. It gives you a better chance to directly reach and engage your audience and increase your ROI.

It Improves Deliverability Rate

If your email list has contact details of people who are not interested or have changed their email address, or if they have never opted in will result in spam filters and email bounces. So if you keep your email lists clean and updated you are likely to have a greater number of subscribers who want to open it and it will surely improve your email deliverability rate. 

Improves Open Rate

By improving the quality of your email database you can notice a marked difference in your open rate. So, check for inactive subscribers and make another attempt to reengage them before removing their contact details. Moreover, you should consider retaining only your active subscribers to improve the open rate.

Limit Unsubscribes

If you have a huge number of people on your email list, it is likely that some have lost interest in your email. Therefore, it could be a good idea to that you remove any subscribers who are no longer interested before they hit the unsubscribe button.

Reduces Spam Complaints

If your emails reach your spam, then it is likely that your ESP will flag your account for sending unwanted solicitations which can be bad for your reputation and your deliverability rate can suffer.

Keep Costs Down

ESPs rank their pricing by the number of emails you send, so to lower your costs, you have to remove the subscribers who are receiving your emails but never opening them.

How to Clean an Email List?

Identify Reasons for Bounces

Bounce rates reduce email deliverability. There are two types, hard bounce like an inactive email which is a permanent issue and soft bounce such as a full inbox is a temporary issue. Therefore, you need to clean an email list that has a hard bounce and resolve soft bounce issues over time.

Identify Disengaged Subscribers

Before you clean your email list you must identify whether a subscriber is inactive so that you can remove them from your list.  However, if your subscriber is disengaged you will still stand a chance to win them over. By rolling our compelling marketing campaigns you can refresh your disengaged subscribers who had willingly subscribed to your list at some point. 

You need to identify why your subscriber has not opened tour emails or engaged with any of your campaigns and why they have not clicked on any links in six months. When you have identified the reason for your disengaged subscribers you must prepare a separate list by filtering out common themes and plan a strategy to pique their interest. You can send a discount code or even try sending a personalized subject line before your remove these subscribers from your list of mailing database and consider them as disengaged and inactive.

Remove Inactive Subscribers

When you clean your email list you need to divide the inactive and active emails. By doing this you will not waste your time following inactive emails and subscribers. Having a clean list will improve your email deliverability and engagement rates significantly.

Check for Spam Filters

Spam filters affect your email deliverability therefore you must remove subscribers that mark your email as spam from your email database. 

Clean Duplicate Email Addresses

Most often you have noticed people don’t remember they have signed up for an email list. So, when they come across the same website again in the future, they are likely to sign up for a second time. This increases duplicate email addresses that need to be removed to avoid sending double messages to the same person. 

Correct Obvious Typos

You must regularly check for typos in your email list such as correcting @gmil.com to @gmail.com or @outlock.com to @outlook.com.

Best Practices to Keep Your Email List Clean and Responsive

By now you must have understood that email list cleaning is not a one-time job. It needs to be verified and updated regularly to keep it clean and your emails away from the spam folder thereby increasing your email deliverability rate.

Here are some of the best practices you can use to clean your email list:

  • Use double opt-in
  • Send welcome emails to your targeted customers 
  • Remove unsubscribes from your email list
  • Ensure your email list has good hygiene
  • Subject lines should not trigger spam filters
  • Manage bounce rates
  • Use interactive content to encourage click-throughs
  • Use automation to re-engage inactive subscribers
  • Resend email campaigns to soft bounces 
  • Provide an “opt down” option for the subscriber to manage their preferences
  • Send customized messages
  • Update inactive subscribers at regular intervals
  • Understand your email audience.


When you have an email list it is important to keep keep your email list healthy by regularly cleaning the collected email addresses. You can update your list by adding current contacts and email addresses. A regular clean-up can be beneficial to your company’s data reports and boosts your conversion rates. Removing inactive email addresses that are no longer valuable to your business gives you the best chance for success and increases your ROI.

Author - Mukund A P
Mukund A P Author at Span Global Services With having spent over 18+ years with the Champions group leading the APAC territories in the data domain, Mukundan has a reputation of helming some of the most formidable projects in the B2B sector. He is known for his ability to build relationships and make headway for his clients using his expertise in data driven solutions. Having worn a plethora of caps in his vast career he is not an individual of singular talents. Mukundans ability to handle multiple roles and his immense success makes him one of the finest leaders that this industry has seen.