What is email data cleaning?

Maintenance of your email data is something that shouldn’t be an afterthought when it comes to your newsletters and mailing lists. 

Email data cleaning is an integral part of ensuring that your email lists are up to date and allows for better growth and management. Once you have completed the process it will leave you with verified and up-to-date emails so that you have an accurate mailing list. 

Why is email data cleaning important?

While manually cleaning emails might seem daunting, it is one of the most beneficial things you can do when it comes to your marketing and newsletter efforts. Email data cleaning will give you a mailing list with valid email addresses, which will provide you with better data to work with. 

Assists with GDPR compliance

General Data Protection Regulation, since 2018, requires all businesses to ensure that the information held by any business follows these rules: 

  • All information held by a company should be up-to-date and accurate. Email data cleaning removes outdated and inaccurate information so that only correct and current data is retained. 
  • Enhanced privacy for data processing. Email data cleansing means that personal data that could be used to identify someone is removed. If a data breach were to happen, the removal of personal information would reduce the risks of identity theft.
  • Email data cleaning reduces the risks of a GDPR penalty for breaches. Through regular cleaning of email data, you reduce the risk of holding sensitive information that can be used in a hack or cyber attack. 
  • GDPR is beneficial to the public because it requires all businesses to be transparent with the opt-in and opt-out and how the data is held and used. 

Email data cleaning means you will always be on the right side of GDPR regulations and avoid a penalty. 

Increased engagement

Imagine that you have set up an incredible campaign for a new product or service, and you create a stunning piece of email marketing. A lot of time, effort and money has gone into it. But when you look at the metrics, you don’t see that reflected. Instead, you see a high bounce rate, a low open rate and a low click-through. 

Through email data cleaning, you will remove all inactive and inaccurate email addresses. The first thing you will notice is an increased percentage of deliverability and reduced bounce back. 

Segmentation of emails is much easier when you have accurate information. You have better metrics to work with and can more successfully build campaigns and deliver them to people interested in your content. Segmentation is a must to maximise your email marketing list. 

Receiving an email that starts with Hi <USER> is one of the indicators of an out-of-date email list. Email data cleaning will mean you have the right information to deliver personalised emails. 

In general, email data cleaning will mean you have personalised emails, increased engagement, and more accurate metrics. 

Deliverability rate

Your email deliverability will be improved by email data cleaning because you will have an engaged email list. This means that people who want to receive your newsletters and other mailings will. 

There are several ways that deliverability is improved:

  • Your emails are more likely to be opened by engaged readers and previous customers. Maintaining a high level of email hygiene is one of the ways to make sure this happens. 
  • All emails on your email list will be verified, so you know they belong to real people, not spam bots, and no inactive email addresses. Sending emails to spam accounts or inactive accounts will reduce your deliverability. 
  • Invalid email addresses are often linked to spam complaints and high bounce rates. Both of these will negatively impact your deliverability rate. 
  • Spam traps are email addresses used to catch spammers and are used by email service providers and other anti-spam organisations. Email data cleaning will remove these email addresses and stop you from being marked as spam.

How to clean an email list

To clean your email list, you will need to look at your list in detail. Removing all inactive and invalid email addresses to increase engagement and deliverability. Cleaning your email list will mean your future campaigns are more likely to be successful.  

Here are the steps you can take to clean up your email list. 

  • Use a double opt-in to confirm new subscribers and confirm email addresses. A double opt-in will ensure that only valid email addresses will be added to your mailing lists. 
  • Segmentation of your email list will mean that you only send information and offers to the people who want them. You can segment by location, buyer behaviour, marketing preferences and interests. 
  • Use a verification email so users must actively verify their email, and if they are not verified, they can be removed. 
  • Engagement monitoring will allow you to remove users or segment them. Users who seldom or never open your emails should be something you circle back to and make a decision about. Segmentation to receive an email asking if they want future emails is a good idea. 

These steps will mean that you only deliver to users who actively choose to receive newsletters, offers and other marketing materials from you. Email data cleaning will give you better insight into your audience and help you to achieve your campaign goals. 

Assess the reasons for bouncing emails

There are several reasons that you could be experiencing a high email bounce rate. Cleaning up your email address should help to reduce the issue, but there are common reasons for a high email bounce rate. 

  • Spam filters might mark your email as spam; double check your emails are spam regulation compliant. 
  • Email servers can occasionally have tech issues that mean emails bounce. Email server issues are usually temporary and can be fixed by sending the email at a later date. 
  • When a user’s mailbox is full, the email will bounce back. You can’t fix this issue, but you can segregate the user for a short period and check to see if it has been resolved at a later date. 
  • Non-existent or invalid email addresses may be caused by a typo, but they could also be incorrect and outdated. Usually, the best course of action is to remove these. 
  • Your IP address may have been blocked if you have received spam complaints. You’ll need to check this and take action to have it corrected. 

Remove subscribers that appear inactive

A vital step in email data cleaning is removing inactive subscribers. While they do add to your total numbers, they offer no value. Removing inactive accounts is more than just deleting them from your database, though. 

  • What is an inactive subscriber for you? Is it six months with no action? Perhaps it is 12 months? It will depend on your business and the average activity you see from engaged users. 
  • Re-engagement before removal is a good idea. Send an email if the user would like to be removed or if they would like to change their preference. If, after the re-engagement email, there is no activity, they should then be removed.
  • Segmentation of the list so that you can meet their activity level or monitor them. 

Regularly monitor engagement rates so you can reduce the number of inactive subscribers. 

Tips for keeping your email list clean

Maintaining a clean email list is an ongoing process, and you should have a schedule to make sure it is done correctly. 

  • Monitor engagement rates are regular intervals.
  • Segmentation of your list so you can send targeted emails to the right subscribers 
  • Remove inactive subscribers
  • Use a double opt-in and follow up with a verification email.
  • Adhere to all email best practices; watch for spammy language, ensure you have mobile-optimised emails and offer easy unsubscribe options. 

At Instiller we provide email automation tools that are already trusted and utilised by countless major brands and smaller companies. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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