Email Spring Cleaning: Why and How to Clean Your Email List

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We all leave certain things to be cleaned at a “later” time; your email list shouldn’t be one of them.

If you’re in the email marketing business then quarterly cleanup isn’t optional — it’s necessary.

Leaving your email list means that you may be left to deal with a plummeting email deliverability rate, and that’s no fun.

Cleaning your email list isn’t difficult at all.

So, let’s rid your email list of the dust bunnies and get those email campaigns back on track!

1. What is email list cleaning?

email list cleaning


Email list cleaning is the process of removing inaccurate and inactive contact data from your email database.

Cleaning your email list helps ensure that you don’t jeopardize your reputation by sending emails that go to the junk folder or simply bounce.

By cleaning your email list, you’re essentially getting rid of inaccurate information like:

  • Fake emails
  • Outdated email addresses
  • Typos

List cleaning is also a super important part of managing your email marketing strategy, as it helps you to:

  • Maintain an effective workflow
  • Obtain an email list that’s usable and trustworthy
  • Target your energy towards users who show interest in your business
  • Save money

You have two options for cleaning your email list — you can clean it manually, or you can automate the process.

2. What happens when you don’t clean your email list?

email list


By using a dirty email list, you’re essentially risking your business’ reputation.

While a few bounces don’t seem to be cause for concern, they do reduce your emails’ deliverability, which, in turn, causes a whole host of other problems.

Here are 5 of the main problems that you’ll encounter if you don’t regularly clean your email list:

1. Damage your reputation

You damage your IP reputation if you have a faulty email list and send out campaigns to spam traps.

Other factors that contribute to a bad IP reputation include:

  • Recipients flagging your emails as spam
  • Low open rates
  • High bounce rates

2. Reduce your deliverability

Lousy data impacts your deliverability rate.

If you have fake or faulty email addresses on your list, then your email campaign will hit a hard bounce.

But that’s only a part of the problem.

Deliverability problems result in:

3. Increased email marketing costs

Most email marketing platforms charge you based on how many contacts you send mails to.

While they won’t cost you a considerable sum, they might use all your available emails, and that’s when they add up to the cost.

Platforms like Mailchimp automatically remove hard bounces but won’t remove soft-bounce emails until they’ve bounced 7 times.

What makes this even worse is that you’re wasting marketing opportunities and decreasing conversion opportunities.

4. Spam complaints

If email service providers (ESPs), like Gmail, believe that you’re sending spam, they’ll automatically send it to the junk folder.

But why would they think your emails are spam?

Well, when someone no longer wants to receive your content, they can report it as spam.

If you receive continuous spam complaints, your emails will be blocked, which prevents people who want to read your emails from receiving them.

5. Unsubscriptions

Using inaccurate data can result in leads unsubscribing from your emails.

Personalization and segmentation are both critical to marketing success.

When people subscribe to your list, they’re looking for content tailored to their needs, which won’t be met by sending generic emails with no real value.

If your contact data has incorrect information or missing fields, you won’t target your contacts effectively.

So, now that you know what happens when you don’t clean your list, it’s time to find out why it could massively benefit you to clean it.

3. Why is list cleaning beneficial?

benefits of cleaning your email list


Many benefits come with cleaning your email list.

The two most important benefits of cleaning your email list include:

  • Increased engagement rates
  • Meaningful relationships with subscribers

List cleaning will help you create a list of targeted and engaged contacts to provide valuable content to.

By doing so, you can focus all your energy on leads who show interest in your product or service and target your content to meet their needs.

What’s most important is that you’ll experience higher conversion rates, resulting in higher revenue and more business growth.

You can also reduce your bounce rates, which will improve your sender reputation because it shows ESPs that you’re a responsible email marketer.

As mentioned before, a good reputation will increase your deliverability rate significantly!

Now that you know what you can achieve when you clean your list, let’s get into removing the old dust bunnies!

4. 6 Strategies to help you clean your list

Cleaning your email list


Cleaning your email list may seem like a major task, but it doesn’t have to be!

Implementing these 6 strategies will leave you with a sparkling clean email list and reputation.

So, let’s get cleaning!

4.1. Ask questions

To understand why your list is dirty, you first have to ask why it happened?

Some reasons why your email list can get dirty include:

  • Human error

Human error is the top reason why inaccurate data ends up in your email list.

These errors can include typos, information entered into the wrong field, missing fields, and inconsistent formatting.

  • Data decay

Data decay is a natural process whereby you gradually lose data due to contacts changing their information and the data becoming outdated.

Decay occurs for several reasons, including people who change their email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, and jobs.

  • Duplicate information

There are a few ways you can end up with duplicate subscriber contacts.

Duplicates usually occur when the subscriber opts in for your list more than once to re-download a lead magnet, for example.

You may also find that you’ve manually added the same contact twice.

  • Faulty formatting

If your email service provider doesn’t have formatting rules, the chances are that you’ll end up with a big problem.

Without formatting rules, data can be written in many different ways by your leads, staff, and even yourself.

You want to ensure that you have strict parameters around how users enter data into your database.

Ensure that people enter information in the correct format by providing them with a template to do so.

You can use an opt-in form that clearly shows the way you want details entered as in the image below:


By showing how you want your data input, you can minimize the chance of a mix-up.

When your data format is correct, it’ll be easy to find things you need, such as email addresses, names, associated dates, etc.

Once you’ve asked questions and fixed all the errors you can from your side, it’s time to ask your subscribers what they think.

If your email list has low engagement rates, it can be difficult to tell if it’s because your subscribers aren’t interested in your content or just don’t care to act on your offers.

Here are a few ways you can engage with your email list:

  • Ask them to vote on a poll
  • Request feedback on your content
  • Allow them to set communication preferences
  • Offer them the ability to make a feature or product request

If your engagement rates increase, it’s time to filter out those who aren’t interacting with your emails.

4.2. Send a re-engagement email campaign

A low engagement rate doesn’t mean that your subscribers aren’t interested. Maybe they just don’t like the type of content you provide.

So, before you remove them from your list entirely, ask yourself if you could provide them with more appealing content.

Unengaged subscribers may just need a push in the right direction, and you can do that by offering:

  • A free gift
  • A discount code
  • Exclusive content

If they don’t engage with content that offers them direct value, it’s time to say sayonara!

Here’s an example of how you could set up your re-engagement email to draw attention:

example of how you could set up your re-engagement email

It’s also wise to keep in mind that certain users experience email fatigue — this essentially means that they stop checking their emails almost entirely for specific periods.

Email fatigue is especially prevalent around the holiday season.

To re-engage with these subscribers, you want to focus your energy on engaging with them on platforms that they spend time on, such as social media.

4.3. Segment your audience

Contact segmentation is an integral part of cleaning your email list. It allows you to:

  • Personalize your campaigns
  • Improve loyalty and engagement
  • Streamline mass customization
  • Increase customer satisfaction

Segmentation allows you to personalize your email campaigns based on your buyer personas and where they fall in your sales funnel.

It can also help you to send specific emails to the subscribers who set communication preferences.

Segment your subscribers based on demographic information, like location or the stage they’re at in your sales funnel.

4.4. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Most countries require you to provide a way for people to opt out of your email communication.

Take the US CAN-SPAM law that states that:

Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt-out of getting emails from you in the future.

The email marketing laws don’t specify how you need to do this, which means there are quite a few variations.

Some businesses make it extremely difficult to unsubscribe from the email sequence by either hiding the button or making it time-consuming and confusing.

Instead, try engaging with those wanting to unsubscribe by giving them the option of setting their email preferences before giving them the option to unsubscribe, as Frank & Oak did below:

Frank & Oak email preferences and unsubscribe page

Frank & Oak email preferences and unsubscribe page

Not giving your subscribers the option to leave will likely result in your emails being reported as spamand we already know how that goes down.

Many business owners can’t wrap their heads around the idea of making it easy for people to leave — especially not after they spent time and money to attract these people.

The truth is if you have a good email marketing sequence, the likelihood of people unsubscribing is unlikely — and if they do, you can focus more energy on the people who want to be there.

The main point: Make your email campaign worthwhile by providing real value and allowing people to easily opt out if they want to.

If you’re offering great content, you have nothing to fear!

4.5. Remove or merge duplicates

As mentioned before, there are a few reasons why you may end up with duplicate users on your list.

When you send double or even triple messages, you can end up reducing your return on investment (ROI).

So, not only will it cost you more, but your contacts who are interested may flag your emails as spam if they keep receiving multiple of the same email.

While you can manually remove duplicate contacts, most ESPs have automation rules to make this process easy.

Take, for example. Our software has multiple ways of identifying duplicate, inactive, and unsubscribed contacts.

Simply go to your contact list and filter your contacts with the 15 filter options — some of which go into even more detailed segmentation filters.

Then you can easily find any duplicates and remove them.

Using such specific filtering will make it easy to identify any duplicate contacts and correct errors from there.

4.6. Use marketing automation

Automating your email marketing strategy is a great way to clean your email list!

Automating your email marketing


You’re essentially writing rules to remove or segment subscribers who meet specific criteria, automatically.

With automation you can:

  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Remove duplicates
  • Set time limits
  • Identify low engagement
  • Segment your email list

Remember, marketing automation workflows are your best friend for having clean email lists, as you can filter and remove information you don’t want any longer.

5. Be proactive, and keep your list clean as it grows

You’ve implemented all the tips, and your list is spotless, but how can you keep it that way?

Well, it’s pretty easy.

You can set up a service to notify you every time you get bounced from email inboxes.

That service can then help you to define rules every time something like this happens.

For example: If an email bounces from a sent inbox, the email address would be removed from your list.

(These are known as webhooks, and they’ll help keep your email list clean without you having to pay much attention to it.)

Other measures you can take to ensure your list remains clean include:

  • Verifying your list regularly
  • Using the correct tone and language to avoid the spam folder
  • Making it easy to sign up (and unsubscribe)
  • Creating unique content and keeping it relevant
  • Using the double opt-in system
  • Encouraging people to share your emails with their contacts
  • Utilizing re-engagement campaigns for those stale email addresses
  • Regularly scrubbing your list
  • Asking for feedback whenever possible

Regularly employing these strategies will ensure that your email list remains clean for as long as you intend to use it as a marketing strategy.

6. The best email marketing tool logo logo

If you’re struggling to keep your email list clean, it might be time to switch over to a new email marketing platform, and what better option than

The best thing about our software is that it’s more than just an autoresponder — it's an all-in-one marketing tool.

There are a ton of email marketing features available on, like:

  • Managing your contacts and lists
  • Sending unlimited marketing emails
  • Using email marketing automation
  • Creating your own email marketing campaigns

What’s better is that because it’s an all-inclusive platform, you get access to the whole digital marketing toolkit.

With you can also:

  • Build sales funnels
  • Create a blog to promote your content
  • Automate your entire business
  • Create membership sites and online courses
  • Run your own affiliate program has different price plans depending on your needs, but the rule is that you start for free.

That’s right, we don’t ask a single cent or your card details for you to test our software.

Only upgrade when you’ve reached your Free plan’s limits, and choose from one of the following bargains:’s pricing plans’s pricing plans

If you choose to sign up for one of our annual pricing plans, we’ll throw in free migration on top of a 30% discount.

With, your marketing efforts are completely scalable, regardless of the job.

Even our Free plan gives you unlimited emails, so you won’t pay for an expensive tool before you’ve even got an audience to sell to.

There really is no downside to this email marketing software!

7. Conclusion

Email marketing can be an extremely lucrative business, if you play your cards right.

A vital part of maintaining a good email campaign is regularly ensuring that your email list is clean and up to date.

To summarize how you can do that in 6 simple steps:

1. Ask your leads questions

2. Send a re-engagement email campaign

3. Suggest that they change their email preferences

4. Make it easy for them to unsubscribe

5. Remove or merge duplicate contacts

6. Use marketing automation

And what better platform to use to automate your email and marketing sequences than

Sign up for a free no-strings-attached membership today, and watch your engagement skyrocket!

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