Lazy Email List Hygiene Costs You Big Money!

Quick, How Many Subscribers Do You Have On Your Mailing List?

Do you know? Do you cheer each time you check your statistics and find you’ve gained new subscribers to your blog? (I know I do!)

Now Here’s Your Next Question:

How many people are actually reading your e-mail? What’s your open rate?

And for the kicker – how many of those people that open your email are actually buying?

What do all of these questions have in common?

They’re all part of why email list hygiene is critical to your business and now, more important than ever!

Wait, don’t roll your eyes and think, “Email list hygiene? Boring…” Let me show you something I think will get your attention.

How Your Mailing List Could Be Decreasing Your Business

I don’t know about you, but my e-mail box is overflowing with all of the free offers, tips and tricks, and other blog updates (not to mention the true spam) that comes through.

And the truth is this – I don’t always have time to read every single piece of mail that I get, and I’ll bet you don’t either.

If you’re like most people, you scan your mailbox and see if anything jumps out at you, and if you’re organized, you delete anything that doesn’t immediately promise you a benefit of some sort.

Well the truth is, your customers are a lot like that too. But if you’re just sending them your normal email updates but not paying attention to how they behave when they receive your mail, you are costing yourself money.


Potentially, a LOT of money.

Maybe you’re super busy with running your business and you think “no harm, no foul”, if you have people who aren’t reading your e-mails.

But here’s something you don’t know that you should. If there’s too high a proportion of people on your lists who are NOT reading your e-mails, you absolutely risk having your e-mails labeled by internet service providers as SPAM.

Yahoo!, Google, Hotmail/Live, etc, they ALL do it.

That’s important enough to say again.

If you have too high a ratio of inactive e-mail addresses on your e-mail list, you very well may end up labeled as a spammer by major internet service providers – EVEN if you are not spamming.

And if that happens, even fewer people are going to see your carefully crafted e-mails.

Not to mention the obvious fact that any time you market to people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, you’re pretty much just throwing money away.

When Less Equals More

Still wondering if you really would benefit from a good scrub of your e-mail list? If so, let me prove a point to you here.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development had an “a-ha” moment about the benefits of scrubbing their e-mail list and only sending email to active, engaged subscribers.

Once they scrubbed their mailing list, they were shocked to discover that they ended up removing about 47% of the people on their list!

Almost HALF of their list was comprised of non-deliverable, dead or problematic email addresses.

But here’s the upside. Mailing to their newly cleaned list resulted in a 3% increase in their open rate. That’s substantial.

In fact, their reactivation e-mail had a conversion rate of 63%!

Best of all, they saved over $1,800 per month by not e-mailing low quality leads.

(Check out the full report over at Marketing Sherpa)

How to Scrub Your Mailing List

1. Decide who’s inactive. 

Define what your cut off is for someone who isn’t active. Many marketers use 6 months as a good rule of thumb, but I think that’s way to long to wait. Personally if someone hasn’t opened the last 3 emails we’ve sent them, they get bumped.

2. Re-engage your inactive subscribers.

Create an e-mail campaign (a series of e-mails in sequence) to encourage your un-involved subscribers to re-engage with you. The last thing you want to do is remove someone who just needed an invitation to rediscover your business!

3. Check for obvious typos.

Errors made when inputting addresses are just one kind of e-mail address you should be removing. Also look for obvious fake addresses and malformed addresses while you’re at it.

4. Evaluate and repeat.

Email hygiene isn’t a once-and-done project. It should be part of your ongoing marketing support. Cleaning your list on a monthly basis is a sound practice.

I know practicing email hygiene sounds tedious, but the rewards (higher open rates, higher conversion rates, decreased costs of marketing) are more then worth it the trivial effort it takes these days (specialty software makes it easy).

Stay tuned – in my next post I’ll introduce you to some automated tools for e-mail list hygiene and help you determine what features are a must!

Here are some other resources on this topic:


Don Schnure


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