Email List Cleaning: How to Scrub Your Email List

Email marketing is an essential part of any promotional campaign. The ability to reach potential clients anytime and virtually anywhere is priceless.

However, email marketing doesn’t just involve creating high-quality messages to catch the client’s attention. Of course, fiery headlines and amazing deals do their job. But none of them works if the email address is invalid. That’s where email list cleaning comes in.

You can work your head off creating an ideal message with a 100% conversion potential. But if it doesn’t reach your client, the potential goes down to zero rather quickly.

The importance of email list maintenance can’t be overestimated. Scrubbing addresses may be annoying and time-consuming without the right tools. With time, it should become an organic part of any email marketing process.

It’s worth noting that problems with email deliverability are some of the most common reasons for losing hot leads. Many teams ignore the problem because they simply don’t know about its existence. Meanwhile, the importance of a clean email list is hard to overestimate.

If you want your marketing efforts to bring the best results, you need to make sure that your emails reach their destination. That’s why you must scrub your email list in regular intervals.

Email list scrubbing is easier than you think. Especially if you know how to use email list cleaning services.

What Is a Clean Email List?

What is a clean email list anyway? You have a certain number of email addresses in front of you. Hopefully, they are organic. Meaning, you haven’t purchased a pre-made list from a third party but collected addresses from potential clients on your website, brick-and-mortar store or social media.

A clean email list contains addresses that belong to real people, who may be interested in what you offer. These addresses have been used at least once in the past month or so. They aren’t blocked or abandoned.

Without proper email list scrubbing, you may experience the following issues:

  • You could fall victim to a spam trap and get blacklisted.
  • Your emails may bounce instead of getting delivered.
  • Your mail server IP can end up blacklisted.
  • You can keep trying to reach people who don’t want your services.

Internet Service Providers are working hard to keep spam emails out of their users’ mailboxes. Their software is like vultures circling your email, moving it to the spam folder or worse, get your IP address blacklisted.

Your goal is to avoid the bird of prey and send a perfectly clean email to the right recipients. How do you do that? What problems are waiting on the way? And how can email list cleaning services become your right hand? Read on!

Why Do You Need Email Cleaning?

Before we go any further, let’s figure out why you need to use email list cleaning services. What does email list scrubbing give you?

1. Validating

An email validation service can make sure each of the addresses you check is valid. How does it work? The program searches for typos and syntax errors to confirm a proper address format. Then it checks the domain to ensure it’s valid. After that, the program pings the address to check if it can receive emails.

All of the above is done without bothering the recipient. Such a checkup takes a few seconds when done by software. It could take you several minutes to complete it on your own.

2. Higher Conversion

Whether you are using mail list cleaning software or checking addresses on your own, the result is improved deliverability.

Let’s look at a simple example. You are sending 100 emails. Thirty of them get a reply. So, in an ideal world, you have a 30% conversion rate. Now imagine that 10 out of your 100 emails have bounced. In reality, you’ve only sent 90 emails. If only 30 of them get a reply (or action), you have a 33% conversion rate.

See what happens? When emails bounce, you can’t get the right picture if and how well  your marketing campaigns are working.

3. Improved Reputation

When you keep sending messages to the wrong people or use abandoned addresses, your email sender reputation suffers.

  • People who never want to get your emails are annoyed with your “spam” and send it to the spam folder eventually getting your IP into trouble.
  • People who want to get an email from you never receive it because of a silly typo made when sharing the address (typos can easily be caught by email validators).
  • People who have signed up for your mailings, may never receive them because your emails end up in their spam folders due to a high bounce rate and poor email sender reputation.

By the way, don’t forget about the CAN-SPAM act that protects users from spam emails. You don’t want to be violating it just because you forgot to clean your email lists.

4. Saved Money and Time

One of the top reasons why business owners and marketing teams choose to scrub the email lists regularly is that it saves them money. You can really save a lot of  money when you prevent emails from bouncing.

Don’t waste the time of your employees on sending emails to the wrong people and make the wrong decisions based on analyzing incorrect marketing campaign results.

When working with a clean email list, marketing teams have time to devote to other important matters. They can get a clear understanding of the campaign metrics.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to deal with such serious problems as IP or domain blacklisting. Recovering your email sender reputation is costly, extremely time-consuming and sometimes even impossible.

5. Better Personalization

Some of the best email list cleaning services can provide you important information about your clients just by checking the address. You may be able to acquire a name and an address to use for further marketing efforts.

While content may be the king, personalization is nothing less than a prince. Today, “dear sir or madam” doesn’t work anymore. If you want to achieve a response, you need to get much more personal with your greeting than that.

Did you know that according to a 2017 study by Experian, more than a third of companies believe that they have poor quality email lists?

While your competitors are struggling to find out why their emails are bouncing, you could be on top of your game with a clean list

How To Clean An Email List

Once you figure out that your marketing team can’t function properly without a valid list of addresses, you wonder how to clean an email list. Two ways exist:

  • Check each email manually by visually identifying syntax errors and typos and then send a message to ask for confirmation. This may work for companies with tiny email lists and plenty of free time.
  • Use a bulk email verifier to do all of the above automatically.  

Email list cleaning services should become an irreplaceable assistant for any marketing team. These programs aren’t just easily accessible. They do their work quickly and provide tremendous results.

So how do you scrub an email list using a validator?

1. Figure Out Which Lists Need Cleaning

When you are ready for scrubbing, start with the most active list. Many companies have segmented email lists. Check out the most active and the most recent one. Yes, you should clean recent lists as well. You need to make sure that only the right people are getting your emails.

The second in line is your old lists. Use the email list cleaning service to ensure all addresses are still valid. Then you can send a follow-up or confirmation email to make sure the client is still interested in your product. Unengaged clients are like excess baggage. You spend time and effort on them without getting any revenue in return.

Unless you have lists you don’t use, you need to scrub all of them regularly.

2. Check Your Bounce Rate

Before you start email list scrubbing, you may want to check your bounce rate. Having this information at hand can help you evaluate the efficiency of an email validator. An ideal bounce rate is zero. However, up to 2% bounce rates are allowed. If your indication exceeds 2%, you need to pay special attention to it.

Once you run the email list through a validator and use a clean list for mailings, check the rate again. You are likely to see a better result. In case the bounce rate stays the same, you need to pay close attention to the content. Most likely, some ISPs believe that your email looks like spam.

3. Use Email List Cleaning Software

Email validators don’t require any special knowledge. These programs come with a low learning curve. You can check how they work online. Simply type the address in and click “validate”.

Remember, the validator has no way of figuring out whether your potential client is interested in your product or not. The program makes sure that the address is valid and can receive emails. The rest is up to you.

The email list cleaning service alerts you about problems with email addresses, which it can’t fix. You’ll learn if you have invalid addresses on your list or addresses with syntax errors or possible typos.

4. React to Alerts

Take a close look at the information offered by the email validator. Take necessary actions to clean what the program can’t. Send “information update” requests to your existing clients if you aren’t sure if the address is valid.

One of the best choices to avoid the majority of typos is a real-time email validation API. It checks the address while the client adds it to the contact form and doesn’t allow common mistakes to be made – only valid email addresses are added to your list.

5. Clean Your Email Lists Regularly

How often should you scrub the email list? It depends on your marketing campaign. If you send emails on a monthly basis, scrubbing the list once every three months is sufficient. If you come up with messages every week, then you should clean the list at least once a month. If your campaign involves daily messages, consider cleaning the list once a week.

You should also consider validating newly added email addresses with a live, real-time check using an email validation API. Even the freshest and hottest addresses could ruin your bounce rate due to typos or deleted accounts.

5 Tips To Keep Bad Email Addresses Out of Your List

While it’s important to use a validator to keep the list clean, you can do a few things to ensure the wrong addresses don’t appear in the first place.

1. Create a Proper Sign-Up Form

When people sign up for your services and share information, they can make all kinds of mistakes. Make sure the form is as straightforward as possible without too many fields to fill out. You can also use a real-time email validation service to catch mistakes on the spot. Don’t forget about a strong CAPTCHA system to avoid bots.

2. Ask for Confirmation

When people sign up for your services and share their email, don’t simply put them on your list. Create an automated message that asks the potential client to confirm the email and the desire to keep getting information from you.

3. Make it Easy to Unfollow

Each one of your emails should contain a link to a straightforward unfollow form. If the client doesn’t want to keep getting your messages, don’t interfere. It’s much better to remove the unnecessary address upon the user’s request than deal with bounces, spam folders, and blacklists.

4. Keep Your Content Stellar

Spam filters pay special attention to the content of your letter. If it appears “spammy”, your message could be marked as spam even if it contains valuable information. Consider short and engaging headlines without too many capital letters, personalized greetings, and concise content.

5. Request Updates

When you send promotional or informational emails, ask clients to update their information. The updated form should be simple and straightforward. The user should be able to access it with one click.


Email list cleaning is an essential part of any email marketing campaign. By keeping your list clean, you ensure higher conversion rates, lower spending, better reputation, timesaving, and much more.

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