List Cleaning Is Serious Business

List Cleaning Is Serious Business

Skip List Hygiene at Your Own Peril

When you’re mailing to big data, you’d better do some big cleaning. Serious email marketers accept this fact about list hygiene . Before you upload precious data into the mailing queue you’ve got to give it a thorough scrubbing. Otherwise your email deliverablity will tank.

It doesn’t matter if you are your own mailing list provider or if you get your data from one of the mailing list brokers, list cleaning is absolutely vital to your mail list because that’s how you root out all the sneaky devils trying to crash your mailing party.

Yes, unfortunately your list is going to shrink. But it’s only going to be tighter and stronger. That freshly cleaned list will help you to maximize deliverability, avoid being black listed or being labeled a “spammer” by ISPs. But the key point here is that, in the long run, it reduces your operating costs for mass email marketing.

You can try to shave expenses by using a /24 (block of 254 usable IPs) to weed out bounces and in-actives. The problem with that (besides a burned IP block) is that you cannot really remove spam-traps and other baddies that can seriously hamper your mailing.

It might be frustrating to you that ESPs don’t provide list cleaning because, after-all, isn’t offering this service going to be as good for them as is for You? Well, if that were REALLY the case, they’d do it. But, in fact, most people (not YOU of course) are sloppy with their list hygiene and proper cleaning is a labor intensive (see: costly) process.

scrubbed data list

Some ESPs will automatically remove bounces and un-subscribes from your list as long as you are uploading onto the same list in your account. However, because lists are independent of each other and share no information, there’s no universal, account specific suppression list. Bounces and un-subscribes tend to be managed on a per-list basis only, which doesn’t get you very far.

Deleting bounces and un-subscribes is not enough

To run a successful mailing operation you must budget for hardcore list cleaning. You’ll be wasting your time if you don’t. No ESP or block of IPs will tolerate your polluted list for long. Their entire businesses hinge on achieving great deliverablity for all their clients. Dirty lists put every clients’ sending reputation at risk.

There are numerous data cleaning services that can slice and dice your list(s) a bazillion different ways. Some services specialize in only bounce removal, while others specialize in list verification. Most have their own unique mix of tools.

Here’s a tidy list of some of the numerous, little tasks list cleaners do to help you mail your best.

Spam Trap Suppression

Spam Trap Suppression helps you rid your list of, spam traps (duh), frequent complainers, honey-pots, seeds, bots, bogus, abandoned, expired and disposable emails which can royally muck up your sending. Some services also specifically remove emails if they are a member of Spamcop.

Bounced Emails

List cleaners often maintain a huge list (like 200 million+) of hard bounces so they can scrub your data against theirs. This includes emails which have sent a challenge response or requested removal.

Email Correcting

Email correcting tweaks your list, correcting for invalid or improperly formatted email addresses as well as syntax and spelling errors. It’s amazing what simple misspellings can do to destroy your lead count.

Keyword Scrub

Keyword scrubbing removes from the list words like “spam,” “junk,” “abuse,” etc.

Throwaway the Throwaways

Many services can remove all temporary, disposable, junk collector email addresses. These email addresses are usually implemented for a one time use –to sign-up for or skip providing a valid email address.

Domain Verification

Data cleaners usually have a proprietary database to scrub your list against. They can verify the status of a domain multiple times over a period of days to determine its true status. This protects you from a false status that would cut into your list by incorrectly marking perfectly good email addresses as “invalid.”

Role Account Deletion

Role account deletion is used to nix stuff like: sales@, support@, info@, admin@ etc.

Mailbox Checks

To check mailboxes, dedicated IP addresses are used to ping mailboxes in real-time to figure out whether messages will soft bounce, hard bounce or deliver.

Status Coding

List cleaners have their own coding systems to inform you exactly WHY email addresses are bad. You can use the results to help you find and fix any data collection issues.

Email Activity Metrics

Some list cleaners can tell you the age of an email address, how often its used and the date it was last opened.

Once your list is squeaky clean there’s no rest for the weary. No slacking off! To keep your ESP or IP providers off your back, you must remain vigilant.

Four questions you need to ask yourself moving forward:

  • Are my opt-in steps clear?
  • Is permission always confirmed, not assumed?
  • Am I regularly cleaning inactive addresses from the list?
  • Am I asking subscribers to add my email address to their contact list?

These simple steps will help ensure that your mail isn’t filtered on over into the bulk folder and that all the effort you put into getting your list clean in the first place, isn’t lost.

Email is still one of the most effective and lucrative forms of marketing. Don’t let the honey pots and bots get you down.

4 Responses

  1. […] ruthlessly. It’s been run through at least two hygiene services. Don’t go budget on list cleaning, a bouncy list can gum-up your entire sending […]

  2. […] List cleaning is a daily challenge. We’ve written about mailing list hygiene extensively, click here to read about keeping your lists spic-n-span. Basically, if someone reports your email as “spam” get that person’s email […]

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